How to take the hassle out of holiday travel - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

How to take the hassle out of holiday travel

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(BPT) - While everyone else eagerly anticipates the upcoming holidays, you’re feeling like a Grinch because you’re stuck organizing the family’s travel plans. Whether you’re heading over the river, through the woods or completely across the pond, the hassles of holiday travel can make anyone become a Scrooge. But before you utter “bah humbug,” consider some easy planning tips that can help ease the stress of traveling during the holiday season.

1. Gift wisely

The holidays and presents go together like milk and cookies, but lugging around boxes of gifts takes up a lot of space and there is a chance that they may become damaged in transit. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, consider shopping online and having the gifts shipped directly to your destination, which doesn’t cost any extra. If the idea of shipping gifts just doesn’t jingle your bell, consider compact gifts – such as gift cards – that take up little travel space and can be kept closely in a purse or carry-on. If you simply must bring boxes of toys, clothes and other goodies, package them securely and wrap them when you arrive at your final destination. Keep in mind that if you’re flying and the security alarm goes off and you have wrapped gifts, you will be asked to open them for inspection.

2. Create a home away from home

While piling up on grandma and grandpa may be an option, sometimes it’s nice to have some space where your own family can settle in and unwind when the festivities aren’t in full swing. Consider choosing a hotel that offers comfortable accommodations that everyone will enjoy. Extended-stay hotels like Home2 Suites by Hilton are a great option because they offer generous rooms where the entire family can relax and feel merry. Accommodations include kitchens which can help cut down on meal costs, plus you can cook your famous side dish and bring it to the holiday feast. With common areas for mingling, the convenient Spin2Cycle, which combines laundry and gym rooms, pet-friendly accommodations, and freebies like daily continental breakfast and Wi-Fi, the whole family will feel at home.

3. Avoid peak travel days

While Santa might be able to fly around the world in one single evening, you might not enjoy such swiftness when it comes to racking up miles on peak holiday travel days, which can be stressful as well as costly. If you plan to fly, try to avoid weekends or days immediately prior to or after major holidays. You’ll pay the premium to fly out on Christmas Eve, plus you’re more likely to encounter long terminal lines and delayed flights. If you plan to drive to your destination, these high-travel days will likely clog the roadways. If there is inclement weather in the forecast, you’ll want to consider traveling around it since it can make driving take double the time or more, plus it can be very dangerous. If you have the time to take off of work, travel at least several days before or after a holiday. Then settle in and enjoy quality time as you get in the holiday spirit.

4. Practice patience

While the hustle and bustle of the season are in full swing, it’s no secret that traveling over the holidays also comes with long periods of waiting. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, standing in the long lines at the mall, or waiting for that 30-pound turkey to roast, you need to practice patience. Prepare by bringing along some reading material for yourself and some fun holiday activities for the kids. Books, magazines, small board games, cards, video games, movies or simply singing some holiday carols can help bide time and keep everyone in an optimistic holiday mood.

These simple steps can help make holiday travel a breeze so you can enjoy more time with your family and less time stressed. With a little planning and a touch of holiday optimism, traveling during the holidays can be a joyous and memorable event.