Will you be traveling this holiday season? This time of year can be busy — and magical — but it is possible to have a stree-free holiday on the go. Whether you’re headed for a family vacation in the sun or Grandma’s house, following these holiday travel tips will help you enjoy your family time away from home.
5 Holiday Travel Tips
1. Travel before Christmas Day for the lowest crowds and best deals.
If you’ll be vacationing at a beach or ski resort this holiday season, or visiting a theme park, the crowds press in hardest after Christmas Day. In fact, between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally the busiest time of year for many family resorts. Book the week before Christmas instead. Even last minute holiday travel deals can be found, and pre-Christmas bookings usually fall outside of peak season pricing. We once spent a blissful week at Disney World from December 17-22nd enjoying near-empty parks and discounted lodging. Near the end of our visit, we could see the crowds coming in just as we were leaving.
If you can avoid it, don’t fly during the Thanksgiving holiday. Because time off is more concentrated during Thanksgiving (most families only have a few days off), prime time for air travel is more condensed. The more demand, the higher flight prices soar, and the higher stress-levels rise in busy, over-crowded airports. Driving during Thanksgiving is usually the better bet: the weather is milder than during the winter holidays, and you stay out of the crowds. If you do need to travel by air, use the following holiday travel tips for hassle-free flying.
2. Spend time wherever you are
So many times when traveling, we rush from site to site, city to city. If there is a way to slow down and spend more time at each destination — even when that means visiting less places — you will better understand and enjoy the culture where you are. Eat local and spend time at less crowded tourist attractions. You may even consider renting a bicycle and enjoying a little bit of cycling tourism on your own or with a tour.
3. Think outside the (gift) box when bringing presents with you.
Taking the holidays on the road can be stressful — and take up a lot of space in your luggage or car! If you have small children, they’ll expect Christmas or Hanukkah presents to be waiting whether they’re at home or on the road, and it is possible to make it happen. Consider shipping gifts straight to your hotel, rental, or resort (and save on shipping costs and energy consumption by shipping straight from the company, instead of from home).
We also buy travel toys as Christmas gifts: small board games, art projects, and books can be fun gifts to open while driving or flying, and serve a practical purpose, too. Older kids may be able to appreciate the gift of experiences instead of physical toys. This year, we’ll be presenting our school-aged kids with gift certificates for a paintball session, which they can enjoy after the holidays during their break. Consider a family membership to the zoo or children’s museum. The gift certificates takes up no room, yet are substantial presents they’ll enjoy receiving.
4. Consider a home rental, even if visiting relatives.
Or perhaps that should read especially if visiting relatives. You may be traveling to spend time with loved ones, but if you have small children, not having your own space can be challenging. Renting a vacation home in the same town or city as your relatives affords you your own kitchen and multiple bathrooms, and week-long rentals can be a better deal than multi-night hotel room stays. Kids and adults have their own rooms, and bedtimes and naptimes can be observed. We use HomeAway for the best selection world-wide.
5. Rent as much equipment as possible at your destination.
Many baby and toddler gear rental companies now exist in major cities and tourist destinations, saving families the need to lug strollers and high chairs to their resort or hotel. Now that our kids are older, we still rely on delivery service for supplies like groceries. We place our order online before leaving home, and enjoy having our groceries waiting for us when we arrive. Many stores now deliver to local hotels, saving families that harried trip to stock up on food when all they want to do is jump in the pool or get some rest.
Will you be traveling this holiday season? What are your best holiday travel tips?
Photo credit: HarshLight.