Surviving holiday travel: Tips for a safe, fun holiday trip

spauff@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 18, 2011 

To grandmother’s house we go... if only we can survive the trip getting there.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the weeks around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, are among the busiest holiday travel periods of the year.

Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, here are some tips for making travel less stressful:

• Adjust your holiday celebration plans: Sure, you promised you’d be at Grandma’s house in time for Christmas dinner. But consider this: Students in Muscogee County have three weeks off for winter break this year, including the week after New Year’s Eve. Waiting until after Christmas and New Year’s to travel can help you save some money.

“It’s lower in price, if you can avoid the holidays and travel around that,” said Donna Comer, owner of Travels by Donna.

• Be on time: Make sure you arrive at the airport with enough time to spare. Comer recommended arriving three hours in advance for an international flight and two to two and half for a domestic flight, so you have time to get through security.

“It can really back up for a long time,” she said.

• Pack light and pack right: There’s no need to take your entire shoe collection on vacation. If you can travel with just a carry-on bag, do it, Comer says. That way you won’t have to check bags and incur unexpected fees.

“The fees can add up a good bit,” she said.

But make sure you know what you can bring in a carry on.

“Security is really hard to get through if you don’t pack right,” she said.

Most airlines have a list of items that will get you flagged at security, like knives and large bottles of shampoo, soap and other toiletries. You can also find a list of do’s and don’ts to pack on the website for the Transportation Security Administration, www.tsa.gov.

• Bring things to do: Driving instead of flying? Make sure you have activities to wile away the hours on the road. Britt Hartman said she’s not traveling this holiday, but on family road trips during her teenage years, they always brought plenty to do.

“Games for kids, a portable dvd player, headphones for everyone who is using an electronic device. Also make sure if you will be traveling at night and someone will be reading to invest in a portable book light and extra batteries,” she wrote via Facebook.

• Take breaks: If you’re the designated driver, don’t try to drive the entire trip in one shot. Based on his past road trips, Victor Feliciano recommended stopping every two hours to stretch and get fresh air and stopping to eat meals along the way.

“The breaks will rejuvenate the senses and not feel like it’s a LONG trip,” he wrote in Facebook post. “Satellite radio also helps.”

Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469

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