When Santa’s Magic Is Not An Option

A few tips to make your holiday transit a breeze

Anyone who has watched the holiday favourite Home Alone can see first-hand what some of the stresses are of travelling during the Christmas season. But even if you are going away with a smaller party, instead of a large brood, travelling during the holidays can be just as challenging. Here are some tips to minimize your travel stress.

First category to look at—gifts

Most retailers offer speedy shipping and gift-wrapping. It is probably best to order your gifts online and have them shipped to your destination. Make sure you tell the recipients not to open the boxes but to set them aside for you so you can organize them when you arrive. By shipping your gifts, you will save space in your luggage and won’t have to worry about things getting crushed during baggage handling.

Something that is important to note are snow globes. A very popular gift but they, too, are best shipped from a retailer. Airports have strict rules about how much liquid you can take with you. If you exceed that amount, something has to go. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to choose between your toiletries and your snow globe.

Next up—time

Be early. Whether you are taking a plane, train, bus, car or sleigh, allow yourself lots of extra time. More people travel at Christmastime, which means there is bound to be heavy traffic, flight delays and long lineups. It is much better to have lots of extra time, waiting to board your flight, than to miss your flight because you got seriously delayed in the never-ending customs line. I would also suggest spending extra money on trip insurance because, even though it’s Christmas, life doesn’t fail to throw us a few surprises.

Also, if you can, book your travel tickets as early as possible and preferably plan to arrive two or three days before Christmas Day. That way, if you get delayed you have some extra time to make alternate travel arrangements and still make it in time for Christmas dinner.

If you are driving a long distance across Canada or into the northern U.S., make sure you are stocked with a first aid kit, flares, blankets and extra food and water. Old Man Winter and Jack Frost are unpredictable and can cause sudden changes in road conditions. Also, make sure you plan your route and know where gas stations are if you happen to be going somewhere remote.

And remember—research goes a long way

If you are visiting a city with lots of attractions that you want to visit, go online and see if tickets have to be purchased in advance. Not everywhere allows walk-ins. Also, research restaurants and make reservations well in advance to avoid disappointment. Christmas markets are also a popular place to visit. Check the market websites to see if there are entry fees, if they have gone cashless and what the hours are, etc.

We may have made it out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but different countries have different regulations about who can enter without a vaccine. It would not be very fun to be denied entry on a plane if you don’t meet the requirements.

Lastly, if you are solo and plan to celebrate Christmas by yourself, by travelling to some exciting destination, Christmas Day would be an ideal day to travel. Most people have already reached their destination, so you would almost have the plane (or train) to yourself.

Wherever you end up going, take your time, be kind to others, and stay safe.

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