If you are planning a trip this holiday season, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to plan well ahead of time. Whether you’re going to visit family at their home or planning a holiday vacation, treat it like the trip of a lifetime. After all, it’s the holidays. So, you want it to be special and, hopefully, stress-free. This means to plan, budget, and plan some more. Here are five tips to follow when traveling this holiday season.
Study Your Destination
Know as much as you can about your destination before you arrive. Use Google Maps to look up where you’re going. Determine the distance between the airport, if you’re flying, and the destination.
Find restaurants and other sites of interest near the hotel or wherever you’ll be staying. Mapping out your stay will help ensure you’ll fit in all the items on your itinerary. Plus, it will make it easier to create and stick to a budget.
Know the weather and, as best as you can, the places you’ll be visiting so that you pack appropriately. Also, be aware of any local customs that require different clothing than what you’re used to wearing.
Next, plan for an emergency by learning which hospitals are in the area, including those with trauma centers. It’s a good idea to take medical information with you, beyond what you might already carry in your wallet, especially if you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when packing is trying to get everything ready without writing up a list first. To-do lists make travel plans so much easier.
Make a list of what to pack, everything you need to do before you leave, and the itinerary for when you arrive. Be sure to keep in mind the items you use every day because whatever you don’t have to think about are the very things you’re most likely to forget.
Next, make a pre-travel list. Include pet, plant, and house sitters, any necessary prescriptions to be filled, travel insurance, upcoming bills so that they’re paid on time, and checking luggage for damage.
Then, make an itinerary for the trip itself. Be sure to do whatever it is you want to do while you’re there.
Be Flexible, but Organized
Be flexible with your plans but stay on top of things.
If you can, work your schedule so that you can leave a few days before the holiday. This way you may be able to avoid the busiest travel days. If you’re driving, plan your trip so that you will avoid the worst of the traffic.
If you’re driving to your destination, have your car inspected. You don’t want to have car problems while traveling. Also, apply for a driver’s permit if you need to drive in another country.
As you prepare for the trip, periodically double-check everything: dates, times, arrivals, departures, etc.
Save Yourself Time
Save time where you can. This includes packing as lightly as possible while taking everything you will need. This uses less luggage.
Book what you can in advance, such as the flight, airport parking, and rental car. If you know the restaurants where you plan to eat, go ahead and make reservations. If you know ahead of time events you want to attend, see if you can buy tickets online.
Mail the presents before you go unless you’re driving to your destination. This way you won’t have to worry about losing your luggage or passing through security, assuming you have your packages wrapped. If that’s not an option, put small gifts in your carry-on bags.
Make Alternate Plans, Just in Case
You never know. Sometimes life gets in the way of the best-made plans. Maybe you’ll need to cancel a flight and drive to your destination. Maybe your transportation doesn’t show up, or the hotel makes a mistake with your reservations. Be prepared for the unexpected with a plan B, just in case. Whatever happens, go with the flow and enjoy yourself. It’s the holidays.
By: Katherine Robinson, a writer for Edmunds