All The Tips You Need For Easy Holiday Travel

As the holiday season approaches, so does the need for travel. The COVID-19 pandemic halted travel in 2020 and beyond, but it appears as though more people are returning to their holiday traditions this year. In fact, Nerdwallet reports that over 113 million Americans plan to travel far enough to require a flight or a hotel room during the 2022 holiday season. While this is great news for individuals and families, it may lead to extra chaos for holiday travelers. This chaos, unfortunately, is likely to be fueled by labor shortages and chronically stressed-out passengers (via Travel Noire).

There is still hope, however, for smooth sailing this holiday travel season. From limiting the spread of winter colds, influenza, and COVID-19 to entertaining kids during long flights or car rides and everything in between, here is how to limit your stress level during holiday travel.

Plan ahead

While it's always advised to purchase airline tickets as early as possible to get the lowest price and highest availability, labor shortages are making it even more necessary to secure your spots in advance (via Los Angeles Times). This goes for lodging as well. Some hotels don't have enough staff to run at full capacity, limiting the supply of rooms even further. As soon as you have your travel plans finalized with your friends and family members, purchase any necessary tickets and book your lodging. 

Expect the unexpected

Sometimes, the best thing you can do to get through an anxious time is to manage your expectations, according to Psychology Today. Between fuel costs, inflation, winter weather, COVID-19, other weary passengers, and labor shortages, you're bound to face some sort of delay. Accepting this truth before you even leave home can make the difference between taking a change of plans in stride or experiencing a full meltdown in a public airport. Make sure you stock up on snacks and download a few audiobooks, podcast episodes, and albums because the only sure thing is that waiting is likely.

Consider a road trip

If the price of flights and the possibility of being exposed to viruses like influenza and COVID-19 has you more stressed out than usual this holiday travel season, consider driving. The familiarity of your own car and the ability to stop for a break any time you want can be a very comforting prospect (via Travelers United). Driving also eliminates a lot of stress for parents, who tend to spend time and energy worrying that their kids will bother other airline passengers by crying or fidgeting.

Utilize hotel alternatives

Between labor shortages and an abundance of travelers, hotel rooms are likely to become scarce during peak holiday travel. They've also increased in price due to the increased demand and decreased supply. If you weren't able to book yourself a room well in advance of your trip, you're better off looking for alternative lodging. You may be able to land an entire house or apartment for the same price you would have paid for a high-demand hotel room by browsing Airbnb for vacation rentals in the area of your destination and along the route to get there.

Use miles and rewards

Many people claim that they are saving their air miles and credit card rewards for a special occasion but hesitate to pull the trigger when that occasion arises. If ever there was a time to use every reward and air mile you have available to you, it is the post-pandemic holiday travel season. In fact, you may even want to consider committing to opening a new credit card account and saving all your miles and rewards every year in the future to use for the sole purpose of holiday travel (via Nerdwallet). 

Leave early

The importance of arriving at the airport early cannot be emphasized enough. While arriving well before your flight is always important advice to follow, the combination of more travelers and fewer staff members is likely to equal long waits that could push you toward missing your flight (via Insider). Those who opt for road trips should also depart as early in the morning as possible to avoid the type of heavy potential holiday traffic congestion that could add hours to your trip. 

Pack quiet entertainment

Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose for your holiday traveling, your children are going to be faced with long stretches of sitting. If you want to avoid boredom-based misbehavior, make sure you come prepared (via Healthway). Even if you're driving, prepare a carry-on bag that will stay with you when all the other luggage is packed away. Fill the bag with silent activities, like fidget toys, coloring books with crayons, and a tablet with headphones for each child. Be sure to download movies and shows before you leave. 

Test and mask up

While public concern about the COVID-19 pandemic is easing, according to Harvard Health Publishing, the virus still poses a threat to people who are at high risk of complications. Before you head to the airport or drive to another state, test yourself and everyone else who plans to accompany you with an at-home COVID-19 test kit. If anyone tests positive, either cancel your plans or verify with a test at a drive-thru testing center or a doctor's office. If everyone tests negative, carry on, but pack your masks. Even if masking isn't required in your area, it may still be the norm along your route or at your destination.