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The Four P’s for Happy Holiday Travel this Season:

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The Four P’s for Happy Holiday Travel this Season:

Tis the season to travel as a family to visit relatives or take a holiday vacay. This season AAA estimates 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home from December 23 to January 2. Travel time is extended this year due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays.

According to AAA, 2022 is expected to be the third busiest year for holiday travel, while PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts nearly 47% of Americans will travel this holiday season

Given the context of holiday travel, inflation, fluctuating gas prices, concerns over flight cancellations, staff shortages, the four P’s— prepping, packing, planning and a positive attitude are essential elements for an enjoyable family experience. 

Prepping:

Enroll in Global Entry:

A time saver and game changer for me with air travel has been enrolling in Global Entry and TSA PreCheck and you will really appreciate this during the holiday season, when airport lines are legendary for being long and time-consuming. For those of you unfamiliar with Global Entry, it’s a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows travelers to skip the typical passport control line when they arrive back into the United States from abroad. Members enjoy expedited clearance into the United States by using automatic kiosks at select airports. Once enrolled in Global Entry, you automatically get all the benefits of TSA PreCheck, enabling you to skip the long lines at domestic security checkpoints for expedited screening. 

Flight tracker apps:

Before you pack, make sure you have downloaded all essential apps and entertainment, including a flight tracker app. If you are picking people up from the airport or want to keep tabs on your own flights, I suggest downloading a flight tracker app, FlightAware. The app offers a live flight tracking map. You click on any aircraft or airport for a more detailed view, and use the layer icon in the top right corner to add weather layers and more. There’s even a Misery Map tracking the airports with the most flight delays and cancellations in real time

https://flightaware.com/miserymap/ You can search flights by operator airport and aircraft. 

Download entertainment 

Download your favorite movies, audiobooks, podcasts and music because you can’t count on airport or airplane WIFI, even if you can get a signal, oftentimes, it’s not fast enough to download media. 

Make a list of local medical clinics

Be prepared for any potential medical incident while away. Pack your health insurance cards for each family member, any prescriptions and make a list of urgent care clinics and local hospitals at your destination. Enter the phone number and location of the local hospital and urgent care center into your contacts and share the info with the people you’re staying with.

Packing:

Whether traveling by plane, train, car or cruise ship, strategic packing for the family includes a mix of comfort items, snacks, and essentials.

Luggage: Carry-on Versus Checking It

If you are flying, try and pack up the family, each with a carry-on to avoid lost luggage and long delays at baggage claim.  Carry-ons can be a cost and time saver given by reducing baggage fees and avoiding wait times in baggage claim. If you are going to check bags, tag your bags with a geo-tracker to avoid lost luggage in the holiday chaos. These pocket-size cellular GPS trackers enable you to track your possessions on the move. Tuck it inside your luggage or leave it attached to a piece of valuables in tote. If it starts to move, you’ll be alerted via an app, with regular alerts it means you can locate and ultimately retrieve it in a timely manner. 

Slip-on Shoes:

 One of the major slowdowns – people taking off and putting their shoes back on at security. I suggest slip-on shoes or slides that you can take on and off without having to sit down. 

Reusable water bottle:

Pack a water bottle for each family member to stay hydrated on the go and save money on expensive bottled water at the airport. Fill up the bottle in the airport after you cross security, save money, stay hydrated and practice sustainable travel habits.

Earbuds or headphones:

Pack earbuds or noise-canceling headphones for each member of your family. Keeping sounds to yourself is a courtesy to other passengers and a requirement on most flights. I’ve seen flight attendants ask those using electronic devices without headphones to cease and desist unless they can put on their headphones to prevent noise pollution. As a bonus, noise-canceling headphones can help you relax by reducing distracting airport sounds. 

Portable power bank:

Pack a fully charged power bank or portable charger for your smart devices. Don’t count on easy access to charging outlets at crowded airports.  You’ll be competing with the throngs of holiday travelers for available outlets in airport terminals, and on older planes, oftentimes, there are no charging ports.  If you board with low battery juice, those books, movies and music you downloaded to your smart device are useless during the flight.  Power banks bring travel peace of mind guaranteeing you will have to access important travel details on your phone. Also, consider packing a long charging cable to give you flexibility should you find a free outlet so you don’t have to sit on the ground next to the nearest outlet. I know you’ve seen those people, right?

Gift cards instead of wrapped presents:

If you are celebrating the holidays away from home, packing gifts and wrapped presents takes up valuable luggage space and adds up in terms of extra baggage weight or bag fees if you are flying. If it’s too late to mail presents to your destination ahead of your arrival,  gift cards are a great way to go. 

Travel pillow:

For comfort, pack a travel pillow. You’ll appreciate the ability to rest or sleep sitting on a plane or in an airport, especially if your flight is delayed. 

Planning:

For those planning to visit Orlando, with so many options to choose from (theme parks, attractions, hotels and dining), it can be overwhelming to plan your Orlando vacation. Visit Orlando offers a complimentary vacation planning service connecting travelers with one of Visit Orlando’s vacation planning experts to give advice and guidance on building the perfect itinerary. 

Simply make an appointment on VisitOrlando.com and a highly trained vacation planner will coordinate a time for a one-on-one appointment – via phone, email or video chat – to provide personalized insights into everything from accommodations and transportation to dining and entertainment.

Positive attitude:

No matter what your reason for the season is, be patient, positive, and flexible. Holiday travel requires you to just roll with it—the delays, long lines, traffic, and other unexpected challenges are part of the joy, journey, and memory-making, so embrace it and smile. 

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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