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Keep The "Happy" In Your Holiday Travels

Holidays can be a hectic time and when you mix in the additional plans and details of traveling, the joy of the season can easily get lost in the pressures of your itinerary. So what can you do to ease the mad rush of the holidays?

Whether you are traveling for Christmas or spring break, cruising for the summer or skiing for the winter, the sooner you start your plans, the fewer problems you'll run into. "Always plan ahead and be flexible on any vacation, especially holidays," says Chuck Brook, owner of Express Travel Inc. in Medford. "Last minute vacations can run into all kinds of problems. Planning ahead insures you are able to get the components of the vacation that you want."

Planning ahead lets you choose from a larger range of vacation destinations, too, depending on your personal tastes and budgets. For example, "a cruise is great because it's all inclusive," says Debbie Anderson, owner of Let's Go! Travel in Medford. "You only unpack once and everything is taken care of."

Planning ahead applies to your travel days, too, says Anderson. It's a wise precaution to allow extra time at airport security, for example. "The paperwork may say to come an hour early, but if you get hung up in a line, you may miss your flight." The same is true of allowing time for winter road conditions if you're driving.

While planning lets you choose more options, says Brook, "being flexible on your travel dates insures you will get the best price." Group travel also allows some extra flexibility, points out Anderson and sometimes it can mean better discounts or flexible payments if you're planning a family reunion or extended family vacation together. And Anderson recommends getting in touch with your travel agent early. If a particular destination interests you, ask to be notified when the next season prices are available.

Flexibility also counts when you're on your trip. Brook advises: "Always try leaving early in the morning - if there should be flight delays, you then have other flight options. Take along toys for the kids and a book to read in case your flight is delayed and try not to get stressed out. There is not much you can do about the weather or mechanical problems or flight delays. Try to enjoy the adventure."

In order to avoid extra delays, check up on the latest information that will affect your trip. Brook offers these suggestions for common considerations: "Passports are recommended for all international travel [including Canada and Mexico]. Check with your physician to see if you need any immunizations or special medication when traveling abroad. Having a cell phone that will work its always nice, so make sure your cell phone will work out of the U.S. Make sure you have travel insurance/health insurance coverage when traveling out of the country for those unexpected illnesses or injuries."

While Anderson points out that most agents will remind you of travel necessities, current airline or border security guidelines should be checked on your cruise or airline website or at www.tsa.org.

On a very practical level, keep phone numbers for airlines, hotels, car rental agencies and destination contacts on hand, as well as your valuables and properly labeled medicines. To physically prepare, get a good night's rest before traveling, eat the healthiest food you can while traveling, and drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydrating.

With some preparation and planning, travel stresses don't have to dominate your holiday plans. Brook sums up "Taking the whole family, enjoying new sights together and the holidays make for many fond memories." So travel wisely and "Happy Holidays" wherever you are celebrating this year!

Keep The “Happy” In Your Holiday Travels