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Holiday Travel: The Dos and Don’ts of Making It to Grandmothers House

by Curtis Fease - Get free updates of new posts here

With the right wetsuit, the most valiant among us can go surfing in just about any weather. When temperatures start to drop and the holidays approach, though, there often comes a moment when it’s time to put the surfboard away and go visit relatives. After all, not everyone finds the beach lifestyle as appealing as we do. Regardless of where you’re heading, there are a few basic rules you should abide by to make your trip successful. Follow these, and you’ll be taking far fewer chances on the road than you do in your everyday life.

Get Started Either Early or Late

When going through the day-to-day, you’re likely awake before the sunshine even shows its face to catch the waves. And who among us can forget the iconic moment in Point Break when the guys had an entire beach to themselves simply by heading out late at night? These simple rules may seem like they only apply when heading to the ocean, but in reality, you might want to carry them over into your holiday travel plans as well.

If you hit the road or schedule your flights for either early morning or late at night, you’ll find your travel plans become much easier. Both the roads and the skies are less congested during these times, so you’ll be able to get where you’re going without many headaches. You’ll also find that flights are much less likely to be delayed during these off-peak hours. And who knows? Maybe you’ll make good enough time to stop by the Grand Canyon and enjoy some seriously inspirational views while rock climbing.

Pack Light

Whether your plans entail staying at Grandma’s house for a few days or crisscrossing the country to see the entire family, try your best to pack light. You’ll find a few benefits to doing this. Most excitedly, you’ll be able to pack the gear necessary to tackle any adventures you plan on having along the way. More importantly, though, you can save a fair amount of money on luggage fees and even fuel costs.

Bring Along Hand Sanitizer

If your typical weekend involves kitesurfing or hiking up treacherous mountain trails, it may seem a little silly to be worried about germs. Remember, though, that it’s one thing to live an extreme lifestyle and it’s quite another to be outright irresponsible. Regardless of whether you’re in an airport or stopping every few hours to see tourist spots and fill up on gas, you’re going to run into every germ imaginable.

Just consider how many people have touched that metal bar you’re holding on to on the airport tram. How about the number of people who handled the gas pumps you’re touching at every refueling stop? The cold weather during the holidays means people are getting sick, so unless your holiday plans include laying in a guest bedroom all day instead of living the life you love with your family, carry along a small bottle of sanitizer.

Ship the Gifts

We’ve already discussed the benefits of packing light, but this goes double when you’re transporting gifts for your family. Carrying these along for the ride means less space in your luggage, additional baggage fees if you’re flying, and ensuring your skateboard or other gear doesn’t damage gift boxes when packing everything into a car. The holidays are one of those special times when you find happiness without even having to get your adrenaline going. Why ruin this with damaged presents or no gifts at all when your luggage is lost at LAX?

Expect the Unexpected

When you’ve found a new trail to hike on to feed your need for exploration, you don’t expect to get lost in the woods or injure yourself. This doesn’t mean, though, that you don’t prepare for these potential and unexpected scenarios. Make sure you carry these rules of life over into your travel planning.

If you’re driving, make sure you keep an emergency pack with flashlights, a first aid kit, an emergency radio and even tire chains and an emergency blanket if the weather dictates. If you’re flying, take into consideration that the security checkpoint could get congested or your flight might be delayed. Make contingency plans just like you would when enjoying your favorite extreme sports, and your holiday travel will go much easier.

Take Full Advantage of Shortcuts

 If you were driving to visit family for the holidays a decade ago, taking shortcuts meant finding a route off the beaten path to avoid congested roads and maybe even get in some awesome views along the way. Now that our cell phones can take into account traffic delays on a route, though, the days of highlighting less-traveled roads on our trip are all but gone.

This doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t still a variety of shortcuts that can make your holiday travel simpler. Remember that email from the airline you ignored because you were having fun at the bar? It likely was giving you the opportunity to check in for your flight before even leaving home, so pull it out of the Trash folder. You can also often save money on baggage fees by paying early. And hey, if one of those shortcuts on the road adds a few minutes to your trip, but lets you check out the International Surfing Museum, then why not?

Download Travel Apps

 There’s literally an app for everything. Seriously, go Google “kite surfing apps” or “rock climbing apps.” They all exist. When leaving home for the holidays, though, there are a variety of travel apps that can make your trip easier. If on the road, GasBuddy can find the cheapest fuel around while Along the Way helps you find landmarks, restaurants, parks and everything else that’s within a few miles of your ideal route.

If you’re flying to see family, iFly Pro provides terminal navigation and flight statuses in addition to other pertinent information. GateGuru, on the other hand, will help you track down the best shops and amenities in whatever airport you’re flying out of or arriving to. After all, grabbing a bottle of duty-free vodka is great regardless of the time of the year.

Above All, Keep Your Cool

Airports, busy gas stations and traffic jams are an entire world away from the beach lifestyle you’re accustomed to. This doesn’t mean, though, that your state of mind should be any different. Issues are likely to arise during any extensive travel, and if you let them get to you, you’re going to ruin your holiday trip before it really even kicks off.

One last thing: Take into account that being rude to any airport or airline employee gives them the opportunity—and an easy opportunity at that—to make your day miserable. Don’t take that chance.

Are you traveling for the holidays? Let us know where, and share your travel tips in the comments!

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