3 Quick Tips To Smooth Your Holiday Travel Experience

December 7, 2015

holiday travel

The winter holidays mark the peak travel season of the year, with a significant surge in the number of people embarking on long-distance trips exceeding 50 miles. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, this annual increase can reach up to 50%. While most travel during this time is done by car, train stations, bus terminals, and airline hubs also become congested with individuals visiting loved ones. As if that wasn’t enough to raise your stress levels, the added challenge of winter weather brings its own set of issues, including delays, expensive road accidents, and even trip cancellations. To help you navigate through your holiday journeys and remain a composed trip planner, here are a few suggestions to consider.

Plan ahead

As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you are driving, make sure your car is in tip top shape (including brakes and tires) and fully winterized before heading down the road. Have an emergency kit with flares, blankets, a first aid kit, and a flashlight with you in the car at all times. Double-check your routes and keep a close eye on the weather; don’t hesitate to change your route if need be. In bad weather, stick to the big roads. Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times in case you need to call for assistance. Having a AAA membership can save a lot of money should you breakdown and require towing.

If you plan to travel by air, it’s always a good idea to arrive at the airport well in advance and be prepared for potentially lengthy security lines. Packing light can help streamline your airport experience. Additionally, opting for early morning flights, particularly the first flight of the day, can reduce the likelihood of encountering flight cancellations. Booking a ticket on the actual holiday itself, rather than the day before or after, can help you avoid larger crowds and potentially save money, as airlines often offer more affordable tickets on less popular travel days. By following these tips, you can enhance your travel experience, minimize stress, and potentially enjoy cost savings during the busy holiday season.

Stay connected

Download the latest travel apps to your phone or tablet before leaving home. FlightView has real-time flight information including gate assignments, delays, and cancellations, and GateGuru can even give you the approximate time you will spend going through security. If you’re driving, GasBuddy will find you the closest and cheapest gas available and SitOrSquat will find you the cleanest, closest bathroom (definitely a testimony to the power of our online world!). At the very least, you should have Google Maps for real-time traffic conditions and The Weather Channel app for the latest weather conditions. Consider investing in an inexpensive portable cell phone charger, too, for long travel days and in the event of a car breakdown or lack of outlet access in an airport.

Remain Calm

No matter how stressful the situation, you can and will make it through it. The oft-repeated aphorism that “you get more flies with honey than with vinegar” is especially true when dealing with difficult people in stressful holiday travel situations. Rude fellow travelers, surly airline employees and rental car associates; most, if not all, of their bad attitudes can be killed with kindness. If you’re nice to them (even if they are jerks), they are more likely to help you efficiently. Keep your cool, take a deep breath, and try to find your center in the midst of chaos. If you practice meditation or yoga breathing, often this comes in handy in these situations. Bring earplugs in case of screaming children or inconsiderate loud seatmates. Don’t get too hungry or you risk getting “hangry”! Keep snacks and a drink or two with you, and make sure to eat before or bring food with you on your flight. The same goes for a road trip; occasionally it can be hundreds of miles in between rest areas/gas stations depending on where you are traveling, so make sure to pack snacks so you don’t start biting each other’s heads off in the car.

The Alliance Direct Benefits is committed to helping you save money while traveling and arrive at your destination safely this holiday season! Members qualify for the Association Motor Plan, which offers 24 hour free access from anywhere in the U.S. and Canada with coverage up to $125 per event should your vehicle become disabled or damaged. The Hotel Access Card also offers members anywhere from a 10% to 70% discount on lodging at 26,000 locations nationwide. The Alliance also offers members rental car discounts up to 20% off at Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, and Zipcar. For more information, and to become an Alliance member, visit the Alliance Direct Benefits website today or call us at 1-800-733-2242 (M-F, 7am-5:30pm Central Time).

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