The busiest travel days of the year are upon us, and although I consider myself a (well) seasoned traveler, I have never once hit the road or taken to the airways during a major holiday. Whenever I see the lines at security during Christmas, I thumb my nose and thank my lucky stars that our family lives just down the road. All of that is going to change this year, when, for the first time, we are headed out of town for Christmas. I have to admit to a little neophyte travel fumbling despite all my seeming experience. Traveling at Christmas just seems to feel a little more pressing, so I have been doing some research to find out how to make the most of traveling during the holiday season.
Before you Leave
- Simplify the holiday routine. We aren’t huge Christmas decorators to begin with, but we have scaled back on the production this year. I wanted to have some decorations just for the enjoyment of the season, but we didn’t do any outdoor decorating or major displays. Yes, we look like the anti-Griswolds, but it works for this year. We also sat down with the kids to make sure we discussed the traditions of the past and got a feeling for what really made it feel like Christmas for everyone. We are hitting the important activities and skipping the rest to help the season have less stress.
- Plan for the logistics ASAP. The details like pet boarding, house sitting, and even parking at the airport can be booked months in advance during the holidays, leaving you high and dry. The call after the confirmation number has to be planning these logistics so that you can turn your attention towards holiday cheer.
- Do it in advance. Everything was done on an accelerated schedule this year. Presents were bought and wrapped before Thanksgiving, and the tree went up earlier than usual, as well. Packing was done extra early, rather than the typical night before rush, in anticipation for the general busyness that comes with the season.
- Give gifts that don’t need packing. Gift giving is one of the biggest challenges of traveling at Christmas. Wrapped presents and TSA don’t mix even with mistletoe, and baggage limitations make even bringing along unwrapped gifts difficult. Rather than buy presents once we get there, we are planning to give gifts of experiences to family members during our travels. Treating everyone to a special dinner out will be more memorable than a present that might not last the year.
- Take a vacation before the trip. This is a tip that was born out of the necessity of needing an airport parking spot on the busiest travel day of the year. We are booked in a nice hotel with an indoor pool and fun family activities near the airport that offers free parking for guests. Not only do we save money, and ensure ourselves a parking spot, but I am really looking forward to checking into the hotel as a signal to slow down and enjoy the holidays.
At Your Destination
- Make a home away from home. Home Sweet Hotel just doesn’t say Merry Christmas to me, but a home rental is ideal for holiday travel. We used VRBO for this trip to give us a place to feel like home even while we are away, but any number of home rental companies would do the trick for a Home Away for the Holidays.
- Plan for your needs in advance. Planning for things like groceries and baked goods is a stressful part of Christmas at home, and even more so while traveling. A little research turned up plenty of companies that will do everything from buying your groceries to setting up a Christmas tree. Christmas dinner can even be catered. There is no end to the needs that can be arranged by concierge services to make the holidays easier while on the road.
- Bring along a little holiday cheer. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without a Christmas tree, but we won’t be bringing one in our suitcase (or springing for a concierge style tree). Instead, I am packing a felt tree like this one from A Frugal Friend and plan to let the kids create their own ornaments to add to the true.
- Make a new holiday tradition. Christmas traditions can happen anywhere, and being somewhere new can actually create a fun new activity that can last for years to come.