Updated 11.17.2018: Want to know the secret to hassle-free holiday travel? Stay at home. Okay, now that I have your attention, let’s talk holiday travel tips.
Our best holiday travel tips for boomer travelers
Many boomers travel to see children and grandchildren over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Or they book a holiday cruise to escape the season as Alan and I do every other year when we find ourselves alone for the festivities.
Whether you’re traveling to visit family or to avoid the season, you have to get there. Although I can’t guarantee an uneventful trip, this holiday travel advice is the secret to our arriving in a joyful mood. Hopefully they’ll work for you as well.
Holiday Travel Tip #1: Pack plenty of patience
Bring patience if you’re planning to travel during the holidays, whether that means a flight across the country or a road trip to the next state. Yes, something’s sure to go wrong—a delayed flight, poor road conditions, car trouble, or a crying baby sitting next to you on the plane.
Will patience overcome your travel woes? No. But patience will make a bad situation a whole lot better. That’s why it’s one of our top holiday travel practices for dealing with delays.
Approaching the gate agent in a calm and patient manner brings more positive results than being a grumpy baby boomer. And you have downloaded the airline’s app for easier rescheduling when all the other passengers are waiting in a long line to reschedule flights, right?
If you’re driving, be sure to load an electronic device with inspirational reading or calming music before leaving home to feed your patience while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. And these road trip apps will help find another route, locate the next gas station or pick your parking spot.
Holiday Travel Tip #2: Plan ahead
Wait! Before walking out the door, have you checked that the flight is on time? Or what about road conditions? What’s the weather forecast? As I mentioned earlier, there’s an app for that.
- Download the app from your airline for updates and the ability too make itinerary changes on the fly. You’ll find it more responsive than waiting in line at the airline help desk.
- Bookmark the department of transportation sites for each state along your route to make it easy to check current road conditions. Some states offer free apps. And use Along The Way to know what’s at the next exit just in case you decide to wait out the traffic at the closest hotel or restaurant. It’s on our list of Best Road Trip Apps.
- Keep up with the weather by downloading your favorite weather app like NOAA Weather Radar or The Weather Channel: Forecast .
Of course the smart boomer traveler asks these questions several days in advance. Do you?
Holiday Travel Tip #3: Be in the know
And if you really want to plan ahead, create a travel contingency plan. Write down a list of alternate flights just in case weather cancellations happen. For a road trip, map out a second route in case of road closures due to traffic accidents.
Holiday Travel Tip #4: Arrive early
One of the best ways to avoid holiday travel hassles is to arrive before everyone else starts to travel. Arrange your schedule to arrive a day ahead of the prime travel traffic days. Then leave a day early or stay until the rush is over. If this is too much family togetherness, take a day trip to give everyone a break from each other.
Check out our entire library of boomer travel tips.
When we travel to board a cruise over the holidays, Alan and I always fly a day or two ahead of the boarding date just in case weather delays us. We use the extra time to explore the port city before embarkation or rest up from all the packing and trip preparations.
Holiday Travel Tip #5: Ship presents or pack them unwrapped
If you’re traveling to see family over the holidays, ship presents to your destination. With so many companies offering free shipping with a purchase, it’s the only way to go.
If you must bring presents on a flight, pack them unwrapped in a checked bag, then host a wrapping party with the family. The grandkids will love it. Not sure if you can carry it on the plane? Check the latest TSA guidelines.
Holiday Travel Tip #6: Wear a smile
I know it sounds simple but wearing a smile is one of my favorite holiday travel tips. It may not solve your holiday travel hassles but a smile is guaranteed to make you —and those around you —feel a lot better about the delays. Come on, it’s the holidays so spread a little cheer as you go.
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Be sure to check back each year as we update our holiday travel advice with the latest information and websites. Or subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet Weekly Broadcast to be the first to know!