The Holiday Travel Tips You May Not Know

You’ve got the basics down, but what about these pro-traveler tips for the holidays?

Book early, sure. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on, check. Read the reviews, of course.

You probably have a lot of travel tips that have served you well, but holiday travel brings a whole new line of opportunity and a few new challenges. While the holidays can be a great time for traveling, you’ll want to have these lesser-known tips in your back pocket (not your wallet, but you knew that).   

Ship your presents ahead of time:
If you’re bringing gifts to your destination and they’re bigger than a shoebox, ship them! It can save you from paying extra luggage fees and will lighten your load. Plus, delivering presents early can build excitement sitting under the tree!  

If you’ve shipped your presents, consider “shipping” yourself!

Consider sailing:
It can be a hassle getting to even one new place through holiday travel traffic, so if you’re thinking about multiple destinations, you should forget flying. A holiday cruise handles all the back and forth for you, so you can easily see multiple destinations—plus the journey is far more enjoyable!

Don’t travel the day before:
Repeat after us: “I will not travel the day before!” That goes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year’s Eve. Avoid it! That said, if you want fewer crowds, consider traveling ON a holiday itself. 

Get a reservation early, so you’re saying “Cheers” and not “What’s plan B?”

Plan activities early:
Not all of us are planners, but around the holidays it can be even more important. With many restaurants and attractions closed, operating on reduced hours, or booked up, having your reservation or event tickets before traveling will mean you don’t miss out on top activities. 

New England is less popular in the winter, but has its charm!

Consider the road less traveled:
Or the destination less visited. It’s great to visit the Caribbean around the holidays—and there are so many reasons why you should—but if you’re looking for slightly better deals and fewer crowds, try something different! Maybe visit the Nordic wonders of Iceland or the craggy coastlines of Canada and New England. Or stop through multiple countries in the British Isles.  

Get the local language download:
You should do your best to download the local language, both literally and mentally. Most translation apps let you save a language for offline use—a lifesaver when Wi-Fi service may be unavailable—so set up your phone early.

And learn some local phrases for celebrating the holidays! If you have to ask for directions, locals will appreciate hearing a simple “Hanukkah Sameach!” or “Feliz Navidad” before you ask your question.

A spa treatment makes the perfect “from me, for me” gift!

Get a seasonal spa service:
Look, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be exciting—especially when traveling—but it can also be tiring. Prevent burnout by scheduling some time to relax, like fuzzy-robe-and-cucumbers-on-your-eyes relax. You can find spa treatments, and maybe even holiday specials at some hotels or cruise ships, so kick back.   

Make sure you can stay up for the celebrations.

Adapt to time changes early:
This is a great travel tip all year; set your alarm earlier or force yourself to stay up a little later to match your sleeping hours with your destination. You’ll be able to hit the ground running and feel less jetlagged.

This is even more important for holiday travelers. Why? Many opt to spend New Year’s Eve abroad and get a feel for the local customs and celebrations, so make sure you’re prepped to stay up past midnight!

Remember what’s important:
At the heart of your trip, it’s the people you’re spending time with that matter most. Always keep this in mind if something doesn’t go according to plan. If you need to improvise, create your own fun and let your companions know you’re still happy to be with them for the holidays.