For many, the holidays are a time to settle in at home and enjoy the company of others. But for many others, the holidays are a perfect time to plan a family vacation abroad. Spending your holidays in a different country makes a special event all the more special. But before you pack up and cart the kids off to the airport (or simply you and your spouse), you may want to make some simple preparations ahead of time. Take advantage of these tips so that your holiday trip abroad goes off without a hitch.
Avoid Peak Travel Dates
The days leading up to (and immediately after) Christmas and New Years’ Eve are incredibly busy travel periods. In the United States, this is also true in the days around Thanksgiving (so if you’re traveling to the U.S. in late November, be wary of this). To help reduce your costs and give your wallet a break, considering flying in and out of your destination a week before of after peak travel periods. Perhaps you don’t actually have to be at your destination on the holiday itself? Maybe being there a week before or a week after is good enough? If not, you will likely be able to save money this way as well.
Shop Around for Fares and Lodging
Shop around, shop around, shop around! To save money, explore your options. You may be tempted to hit “buy” on the first deal that you see, but it’s possible, if not likely, that better deals exist. If you are looking for airfare, lodging, and a rental car, consider using tools like Travelocity, Priceline, or Kayak. Better yet, use all three and compare your results. There are some great package deals to be had; you simply have to look for them. If you are looking for airfare alone (say, because you’re flying out to meet family), Google Flights is a great tool for finding cheap airfare.
Don’t Forget Your Phone Plan
If you’re going to be traveling abroad, you are going to want to buy a phone plan for your trip. An iPhone 7 is a terrific travel tool – with GPS, text messaging, Internet access, a high-resolution camera, and phone capability, what’s not to like? – but if you’re using up your data and phone minutes overseas and haven’t updated your plan accordingly, expect to pay a healthy fee at the end of the month. If you’re traveling to Mexico, the U.S., or elsewhere in Canada with T-Mobile’s plans, you’ll have unlimited talk and text; however, for nearly everywhere else, you’re going to want to buy a temporary travel plan. The good news is that they’re not very expensive, and they can save you a lot in roaming fees.
Plan Out Your Connections
You may not have much of a say in this, but if at all possible, avoid places that could have weather delays or traffic delays. There’s perhaps nothing worse than a weather delay when traveling. The airline won’t reimburse you, and there’s no means of getting around it. When it comes to weather delays, you truly have little to no options (other than wait for the weather to clear). If you’re flying to Paris or Rome for the holidays and know that you will be making a connecting flight, it’s probably better to have a layover in Miami, Florida than in Reykjavík, Iceland! Take this into consideration when booking your flight.
Plan out what you’re going to bring in advance so that you can pack quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, determine ahead of time how many bags you’re going to be bringing with you. Are you going to pack most of your clothing in your checked luggage, or are you going to try and swing it using only carry-on bags? The answers to these questions will determine how much clothing you can reasonably expect to bring with you. Remember to account for weather differences as well. It’s entirely possible that you may have to wear a parka on the way to the airport, only to change into shorts and a Hawaiian shirt once you reach your destination. Consider what you need and pack smart.
Perhaps the most important tip for any holiday is to have fun! It’s easy to get caught up in the details, preparations, and “what ifs,” but it’s important to remember that your holiday is supposed to be fun. It’s a shared experience in a magical place with the people who are closest to you – why let stress get the best of you when in reality, it should be excitement that creeps up on you in the weeks and days leading up to your departure. Follow these tips and you’ll have that much less to worry about.