YOU Magazine - November 2007 - Make the Best of Your Holiday Travel
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
AVP/Sr Mortgage Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
Fax: (907)929-6699
License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
k.petty@alaskausamortgage.com
www.kathypetty.com
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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Make the Best of Your Holiday Travel

Make the Best of Your Holiday Travel

There's no denying that the holidays are stressful. There are gifts to buy, meals to prepare, parties to attend; you get the picture. However, when it comes to creating pure anxiety, there is one holiday ritual that surpasses all others. We're talking about traveling. And, whether you're hopping into your car or jumping on a plane, there are a few things you should know.

Before we share our tips, however, let's first talk about how to prepare ourselves mentally for holiday travel. From dealing with a tax audit to a child's temper tantrum, there are countless situations and mishaps in our daily lives that almost everyone would consider unpleasant. The worst part about these trying times is that our personal feelings hardly seem to matter. Despite how stressed out or anxious we allow ourselves to get, the circumstance still needs to be handled.

What does matter is how we behave in these situations. Conducting ourselves with poise and dignity may be difficult, but it's the best approach. Doing so allows us to accomplish our objective more easily, while at the same time remaining a good example to those around us. Stressful situations aren't necessarily our choice. What is our choice is the manner in which we deal with them.

That being said, here are a few helpful tips to help make your holiday travel, dare we say, a joyful experience:

Get an Early Start
If you have yet to plan your holiday travel, we suggest that you start right now. There is nothing more stressful than pulling together a holiday trip at the last minute. Come December, there will be far too much happening to plan your trip effectively. Starting early not only helps to alleviate mistakes, but it also maximizes your travel options while potentially minimizing your cost.

Book Your Flight Wisely
If booking a flight for your trip, stay away from traveling the day before or the day after a holiday, as these tend to be the busiest at airports and on the roads. Also, don't underestimate the value of a good travel agent. Many times they can find you a great plane fare on a flight with no stopovers.

Stay Healthy
This directive may sound strange, but traveling while you're sick or even run-down is the perfect recipe for a miserable trip. The holidays tend to be a time when we concentrate so much on others, we forget about ourselves. Think of this as a gentle reminder to not let this happen.

Eating well and getting a proper amount of sleep and exercise is a great start, but you may also want to consider the regular use of vitamin C (either chewable or powder form) and hand sanitizer to keep colds at bay. Also, consult with your physician about the possibility of getting a flu shot, as they can do wonders for helping your immune system in fighting off the most current flu strains.

Send Your Gifts Ahead
By utilizing this tip, you will be doing yourself a humongous favor. For starters, you will most likely be getting an earlier start to your holiday shopping. In doing so, you will avoid the big crowds and long lines.

Wrap your gifts, package them, and send them off before your post office gets its holiday rush. It may cost you a little extra to ship your gifts, but it will save you much in the way of aggravation. You'll have less to cart along on your trip, and you will not have to worry about getting your gifts through airport security, or having them potentially get damaged during travel. You'll arrive at your destination ready to celebrate.

If you do decide to fly with your gifts, either pack them in a suitcase to be checked or bring them as a carry-on, making sure to keep them unwrapped.

Pack Light…and Smart
Everybody's trip is different, so proving a specific checklist of what to pack is virtually impossible. What we can do, however, is give you some good packing advice.

Rule number one is to pack the least amount of clothes necessary. In order to do that, you must first assess your situation. How long will you be away? After all, there's no sense in packing for 7 days if you're only gone for four. Resist the tendency to pack more than you need by deciding on your specific wardrobe for each day.

Next, what are the weather conditions in your destination city? While the reason for determining the weather is rather obvious, you'd be surprised at how often it's overlooked. If you don't have a reliable source to ask firsthand, simply log on to www.weather.com, a website that lists extended forecasts for nearly every city in the world.

Another question to ask yourself is, will there be any social engagements that may require specialty clothing like a suit or a cocktail dress, or will the duration of your stay be spent bunkered down in the home of a relative? Lastly, will you have access to a washer or dryer at your destination? This helps out tremendously as it allows you to pack fewer clothes. It also provides an opportunity to return home with a suitcase full of laundered clothes.

If you do not have access to a washer or dryer, a great trick is to pack along a few plastic trash bags. They make great hampers for dirty clothes during your trip. Upon your return, they can be packed in your suitcase and serve as a barrier between dirty and clean items.

One last perk of packing light is it gives you more options for your return home. Let's face it, if you travel during Christmas or Hanukkah, there's a good chance you'll be coming back with gifts. The trick is getting them home in one piece without loading yourself down with extra carry-ons.

Many families deal with this issue by having a family suitcase that travels back and forth between households. Use it to pack any of the gifts you've received that you wouldn't consider fragile. Simply check it in along with your other baggage, and it will be waiting for you at baggage claim upon your arrival. As far as breakable items are concerned, you'll either have to ship them or bring them with you on the plane.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time
From traffic delays to heightened airport security, you want to give yourself plenty of time on your day of travel. Here are some tricks for doing so.

If your budget permits, think about staying at a hotel near the airport the night before you leave. Doing so will dramatically reduce your travel time, as most hotels of this nature provide a shuttle service to the airport.

Many airlines now allow you to check-in online within 24 hours of your departure. This practice alleviates the hassle of waiting in long lines at the ticket counter. Simply check your bags with a skycap and proceed to your gate with your printed boarding pass in hand.

Due to security checkpoints and larger crowds, it is recommended that you arrive at the airport in plenty of time before your flight. To find out your recommended arrival time, simply log on to your airline's website or the Transportation Security Administrations website at www.TSA.gov.

Navigating Through the Airport Security Checkpoint
Don't make this experience more difficult than it needs to be. Here are a few tips for quickly getting to your gate.

You will be asked to take off your shoes, so plan accordingly. The best way to go is to wear shoes or sandals that slip on and off as opposed to being tied or buckled.

Avoid wearing clothing that's baggy enough to hide prohibited items, as this could cause you to go through additional screening. Also avoid wearing heavy jewelry and carrying any excess items in your pockets. Remember, you need to remove everything from your pockets prior to entering the metal detector.

Do not forget your photo ID or your boarding pass!

De-clutter any carry-on baggage. This provides the screener a better view of the contents and you a quicker trip to your gate. Limit the contents to only the items you need during the flight. In terms of any liquids and gels, visit the TSA's website for the details of their "3-1-1 for Carry-ons" rule.

Stay Safe and Secure
If you are driving to your destination, and especially if it's for a considerable distance, please make sure to have a licensed mechanic perform a safety check on your car. The nominal charge that accompanies such inspections is far cheaper than paying for towing or repairs.

Make sure your car contains a first aid kit, a working flashlight, a blanket, jumper cables, road flares, drinking water, snacks, and possibly snow chains. If you are traveling with children, the aforementioned supplies, along with toys and games, become even more important.

No matter how you are traveling, you will want to be sure to inspect and secure your home before your departure. Many people make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to do this. Not only does this practice create anxiety for everyone involved, it also opens the door for all sorts of mistakes.

Prepare yourself for worst-case scenarios by bringing along your personal phone book, a cell phone charger, and a credit card. Flights get delayed, sometimes for a long period of time. You never know who you'll need to call, or how much money you'll need if this were to happen. Also, if you take any sort of medication, bring along a greater supply than what's necessary to get you through your trip.

Holiday trips can and should be fun. But merely expecting them to turn out this way isn't exactly the best game plan. So control the elements of the trip that you can with proper preparation. As for everything else? Try not to worry about it. Keep smiling and remember how lucky you are to be celebrating a holiday with the people you care about. Have a safe trip!




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