Easing the Stress of Holiday Travel

by Nancy Bestor

It’s great to visit family for Thanksgiving, Hannukah and Christmas. Eating turkey and stuffing, lighting candles, and opening gifts is always more fun with those you love. What’s not always so fun however is traveling for the holidays. The weather is dicey, the roads and airports busy, and people can get a little grumpy. Here are some tips for staying sane during your holiday journey.

Pack Food! I am always a bit more short tempered (my husband will attest to this whole heartedly) when I am hungry. And when you are on the road you never know where your next meal will come from. Airlines rarely provide free food anymore, and the food available to purchase is rarely appetizing. So pack your own food, whether for a long car trip or an airplane journey.

Flight Delayed? Ask for details! The airline industry is cutting costs whenever possible. If your flight is delayed, they likely won’t offer up every solution they have available. For example, I flew home from Mexico last weekend and missed my connection in San Francisco, due to a three hour delay in the flight leaving Mexico. I missed the last plane into Medford and had to stay the night and leave San Francisco the next morning. My traveling companion texted home, and had her husband call United and get us booked on a flight the next morning, as the United personnel in Mexico said there were no available flights into Medford from San Francisco, so they could not help at that time. We had to fly home from San Francisco through Seattle, (sadly our SFO-Seattle plane flew directly over Medford), but we did get home the next day at 3pm.  There are almost always options, you just need to ask.

Ask also to be compensated. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you might be eligible for compensation. And, once again, you don’t know if you don’t ask. On the Mexico flight described above, we were put up in a hotel in San Francisco (a nasty hotel, but that is another story), given $15 in food vouchers, and given $250 in travel credit for a future trip on United. Not bad for getting home 15 hours after our scheduled arrival.

Be flexible. You may have to take a slight detour to get to your destination. It may take you a little longer (or even a lot longer) than you expected. But the truth is, the weather is dicey this time of year, and more people are on the roads and on airplanes. There is only so much an airline or the snow-plowing crew on the interstate can do. Be flexible.

Keep a good attitude. Getting upset is not going to get you to your destination any faster. It is what it is.

Happy holidays, and safe travels from the Travel Essentials Team.