Whether you’re hoping to escape to or from a winter wonderland this holiday season, the goal for most of us is to relax and enjoy a little time away. By air, land, or sea, domestic or abroad, the pressure of travel can quickly ruin the holiday spirit. Regardless of which holiday you choose to celebrate, a little advanced planning can ease the stress of traveling during the most wonderful time of the year.
Being alone during the holidays carries with it a certain stigma, along with invites to places that make being home alone seem like a dream vacation. Avoid the awkwardness that comes with trying to deflect that well-meaning relative, friend, or neighbor, and plan a solo adventure that will be the envy of everyone you know. Traveling alone may seem intimidating at first, but the flexibility it provides allows you to take advantage of that last open seat on the plane, meet some new friends on a singles cruise, or round out the final headcount on a backcountry permit without a second thought. Whatever adventure you choose, what you learn about yourself along the way will make it a holiday worth remembering.
Embarking as a Pair
If you are traveling with a partner, determine if you’re looking for adventure, or just need some downtime together away from your everyday routine. Either way it's important to remember that this getaway is for both of you, and having reasonable expectations is the best way to make it a success. Remember that collaborating will ease the stress of travel, and allow you to participate in activities that you’ll both enjoy. However, compromising is key if your couple motto is “opposites attract.” If you’re looking for the nearest black diamond slopes while your partner seeks directions to the sauna, divide and conquer then recouple for dinner to ensure you both go home satisfied.
Gathering with Family
For some folks, the holidays are not the holidays without family. Whether you’re visiting relatives, or just taking a family vacation with your kids, preparedness is the key to maintaining your sanity and your budget. Follow these tips to help economize and please the family simultaneously:
Let no weight limit go unmet. This is especially true with flying. If you pay to check a bag, get your money’s worth by packing to the full limit your airline and destination will allow. Fight the urge to pack everything you own, but take advantage of the limit to avoid having to buy items you might need due to unexpected weather changes or unplanned activities. Just be sure to save space for any gifts you will be taking along, or bringing home with you as you plan which personal items to pack.
Bring your own food for the road. Instead of springing for the inflated prices of convenience food, pack your own. In most cases prepared food is not a liquid, cream, or gel, and will make it through airport security without issue (even a whole cooked pizza). Most airports also have stations to refill water bottles, so a short stack of plastic cups will keep you from having to spring for beverages once through security. Driving? Even better. Pack a cooler for the road, and hit a rest area along your route for a quick picnic.
Plan your pet’s holiday well in advance. Nothing will derail a holiday trip faster than forgetting to make arrangements to board your pet. Even if you are able to find a boarding facility with space available at the last minute, remember that prices go up as capacity goes down. If Fido doesn't get to join you on the trip, be sure to plan for his care before worrying about what goes in the suitcases.
A holiday vacation doesn’t have to turn you into a giant stress ball. With careful planning and flexibility, you can make the most of your winter adventure. In fact, these tips are helpful no matter what time of year you’re traveling. Good luck, and bon voyage!
Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.