Being home for the holidays is so important to us, now more than ever as many of us have been separated from family and friends for a very long time due to COVID. Traveling during the holidays is always stressful, even in the best of times, so here are some things to remember as we navigate the airports and byways. Hopefully, these few tips will make your holiday season more joyful.
I have traveled and observed during this COVID time and I think the most important things I can tell you is to have acceptance, patience and empathy for those around you. If this is your first time venturing out since the lockdown, be forewarned. Things have changed, at least for now, and without question, I have found people and flight attendants on edge and at times not particularly nice so just a friendly tip, “go with the flow”.
Plan way in advance not only to ensure better flight times and prices but also the ability to get tickets for the activities you want to do while at your destination. Planning dinners and getting reservations are of the utmost importance as space is now limited. Pick up the phone and call all your frequent flyer affiliates to check their benefits like flights, hotels, car rental, event tickets, and airport lounges, as well as any restrictions. But before that, as the first step of planning, you need to determine the number of days you can take off work in order to plan and enjoy a vacation without the stress of having to get back quickly. You can easily do so with a PTO Tracking Software that many companies use to allow employers as well as employees to keep track of annual leaves. Once you have that part of the planning process covered, you can continue to make your bookings and check what venues will be open at your destination at the time of your travels.
Check out different websites for flights and do not pooh-pooh flying into a smaller airport that is nearby. In addition, you will probably get better pricing if you fly on non-peak days. When booking, be very conscious of the airports and connecting time. It is unrealistic to think you can make a 30-minute connection in JFK although in Charleston, SC it’s not a problem. Know your airports! Also, take into consideration delays and weather. I always try to get connections in cities I know or where I have friends, just in case my flight gets cancelled while making a connection. Obviously, a non-stop flight is best but not always available or economically feasible.
The night before you leave, in addition to having your bags packed (try to pack as light as possible), make sure you have earplugs, a blanket and of course, the ever-present mask. Word of advice, make sure you have multiple ones with you. Gas up your car and charge your electronic devices. Don’t wrap presents as you run the risk of having them unwrapped at the airport. Have all your traveling documents together, print your boarding passes or have them easily accessible on your phone and have snacks tucked away in your carry-on as food is now limited on the plane.
The morning of your travels, wake up early to avoid rushing. That is when doors are left unlocked, curling irons on and a coat left on the kitchen chair because you are running late and frantic. Trust me, I know first-hand! Get to the airport much earlier than you normally would as parking, ticketing and security will, without question, be backed up.
And last, but probably one of the most important tips to make your holiday season bright, is to take things in stride. Don’t get upset if the plane is delayed or you spent the entire flight listening to a baby cry. During times like those, take a deep breath, meditate, get out your book or throw in your earplugs. Remind yourself how grateful you are to be going home, being able to spend the holidays with friends or traveling to a new place.
If you are driving, a word of caution: At the time of this writing, I was amazed that not all pitstops along the way allowed travelers to use their restrooms, so bring toilet paper and leave your modesty at home. This is a time of joy, so don’t let anyone or anything (COVID) steal it from you.
Have a blessed holiday season and safe travels.