Summer holidays are over but it’s never too early to start thinking about that next trip. For many families, the Christmas/New Year period is a time for family reunions, and for those with family in different parts of the country — or even different parts of the world –, the end of the year is often the time for a very special family holiday.
If you fall into that category, then here are some tips that will help you to make your Christmas/New Year travel hassle-free.
The end of the year is one of the peak travel periods in almost all countries. If you will be travelling abroad, or within the country by train or bus, then it’s important to reserve tickets as far ahead as you can.
For overseas flights, it’s almost impossible to get any discounted fares at that time of the year unless you were lucky enough to spot any promotional fares earlier in the year. Usually, from September onwards, all tickets booked for travel around the Christmas/New Year period will be at the full fare rate. Sometimes, you might even find that getting flight charter will be a better deal.
If you will be travelling abroad, check if you will need visas or vaccinations for the countries you will be visiting. Apply for these well in advance, because in the run-up to Christmas getting these issued can take longer than usual. Check also the weather for your destination for the month of your travel. Makes sure that the outfits that you will bring are appropriate for the weather so you don’t have to shop for clothes when you arrive at your destination.
There’s nothing worse than finding out the day before you are about to leave on a trip that the zip on one of your suitcases won’t work, or that you forgot to repair a broken handle after you arrived back from the last family holiday.
If you need to buy any new items of luggage, then do it in September or October when there is a chance you might find some discounts on the items that you need. From November onwards nearly everything in the shops is at full price because people are buying gifts for Christmas.
If you are going to be flying, buy suitcases that don’t weigh too much when empty because the empty weight is going to be part of your baggage allowance. You can look up what suitcases weigh on the websites of online luggage retailers like Luggage Direct to find out what the weight and dimensions are.
The earlier you get organised for the trip, the less stressful it will be. You should make a list of all your family members’ specific needs to be able to pack your things efficiently. You can take separate luggage for your kids or alternatively give them their own compartments inside your suitcases. Zip lock bags are good for organizing things inside the luggage.
You can pack each day’s outfit for each person so you won’t have a hard time matching the outfits during the trip. You can seal and label each pack for each person so you won’t have a problem finding them inside the bag. You can also do this with toiletries and accessories so they won’t mixed up with other things inside your bags.
Know the basic needs of your family. Keep everything light and simple whenever you pack for the whole family. Do not bring too many clothes, toys or accessories that are not essential. Keep it simple by bringing only the necessary clothes, undergarments and toiletries for the trip.
You’ll need to bring some small toys, activity books or some reading materials to keep your kids’ busy while on a long trip. Kids like to eat and take naps while travelling. Bring a small pillow or some blanket pillows that you can place in your hand carry luggage pockets. The best snacks for kids are cookies, trail mix and power bars to give the energy they need during the trip. Bottles of water are also essential to keep them hydrated during the trip.
Create an emergency kit that contains first aid supplies and medicines. This should include items like alcohol, bandage, antiseptics and common medicines for fever, coughs, headaches and stomach aches. Vitamins and prescribed medicines should be purchased beforehand so you will not have to look for places to buy them during the trip.
Listen for weather advisories and travel cancellations in the days prior to the trip. Make sure that you keep updated if there are changes to your travel itinerary by giving airlines your contact numbers and email. Be prepared with contingency plans if there are cancellations due to sudden weather changes during the trip. Make sure everybody is kept informed and keep the kids entertained to avoid stress while waiting for advisories.
Prepare a checklist in advance of the things that you need to check on the day you leave home. Many travellers forget to bring their phone chargers because they commonly leave them plugged into an electrical outlet at home. And the power bank for your smartphone, tablet or other gadgets is another item that is commonly forgotten.
By making a list of these little things well in advance, you prevent last minute panic on the day you leave – and avoid that nagging feeling on the way to the airport or train station that you’ve forgotten something important.