Not to alarm anyone, but surely you’ve seen the rows of sparkling lights, ornaments and decorated trees adorning the shelves of stores in your town, so of course you know that Christmas is officially only a few weeks away (gasp). Now is the time to start planning for the annual holiday road trip or flight so you’re not caught in the familiar panic of last-minute to-do’s and vacation errands.
The Merriam Visitors Bureau has compiled this handy A to Z list of holiday travel tips and apps to keep your holidays happy instead of hectic. Cheers to a joyous holiday season!
A = Ask for help. Delegate tasks to family members and don’t take on too much leading up to the holidays. Say no to parties, baking for school activities or other tasks that will be taken care of without your volunteering.
B = Back-up Plan. You’ve heard the saying, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry? It’s true and quite possibly more so over the holiday season. To lessen stress, have a back-up plan in place for crowds, weather, power outages, etc.
C = Convention & Visitors Bureau. Use them…we think we’re great. CVB’s exist to assist with visitation, so feel free to call ahead for a map, referrals, special offers or directions. We’re happy to help!
D = Documents. Get your paperwork in order for traveling. Unless traveling internationally, it’s likely you’ll just need an ID, proof of insurance, medical card, etc., but it’s always a good idea to keep a list of important numbers with your paperwork.
E = Electronics. It’s always a good idea to stash the portable DVD for that long car ride or an Ipad for directions and games or a lively discussion with Siri. Our pick for funniest holiday movie…National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!
F = First Aid Kit. Take a small one. We can’t seem to leave Kansas City without the need for a band-aid or Kleenex before we hit I-70. Better to pack and not need than to need and not pack.
G = Gift cards. Traveling across the state with a car load of gifts is cumbersome. Consider gift cards or smaller gifts this year to save money, time and road visibility.
H = Hotel. Did you know that here in Kansas City, about 58% of the people who visit, come to see friends and relatives? Did you also know that over half of those people choose to stay in hotel instead of Aunt Edna’s house? There’s a reason for that. People are more comfortable with their own space and they’re willing to pay for it. Plan now to find great deals and lock in a reservation before it’s too late.
I = Itinerary. Keep the trip fun by sprinkling in pit-stops along the way. Jot down your trip itinerary to keep things organized and memorable upon your return.
J = Jet lag. If traveling by air, think about time zone changes and how that could affect your sleep pattern and mood. Plan for a little more rest before and after landing to play catch up.
K = Kids activities. Nothing is worse than getting five miles from home when the whining starts. Pack a special “kid kit” to include items they’ve never seen or played with at home. Reward good behavior every few miles with a new activity.
L = Lighten the luggage by packing smarter. No one needs 20 outfits, four coats and 11 pair of shoes. Think about your activities, check the weather and pack accordingly. You can always wash a load of clothes if needed while away.
M = Money. Grab some cash to keep on hand, take one credit or debit card and leave the rest in a safe at home. Budget ahead of time so you don’t overspend while traveling, but leave a little wiggle room for that special souvenir or post-holiday sale.
N = Navigation. Whether it’s audible directions by your shotgun passenger or a super-tech GPS device, the holidays are not the time to take the road less traveled. Navigate your entire trip ahead of departure to eliminate unnecessary stress from potential road closures or construction.
O = Open Table. This app is great for making a reservation at nearby restaurants with open tables while you’re searching. It sure beats calling around to ask for wait times.
P = Plan ahead. Make a packing list, print directions, confirm hotel reservations, etc. Surprises are only fun at birthday parties.
Q = Questions. Make sure you ask important questions whether booking a room, planning an activity or making a group dining reservation.
R = Relax. My mom always says, “this too shall pass.” It used to annoy me, but of course, mom is usually right and the holidays should remind us all to enjoy the moment, no matter the stress or unplanned bumps in the road.
S = Social Media. It’s great to stay connected, but not so great to alert everyone that your home is empty while you’re hundreds of miles away.
T = Trip Advisor. I can’t recommend this enough. If you don’t call the local CVB, please at least use Trip Advisor. It’s the #1 ranked peer review site and a great resource when planning to travel. From hotel reviews to special places to visit, you’ll be glad you did your research.
U = Unexpected…as in, expect the unexpected. Just when you think everything is going swimmingly, there’s sure to be an unexpected guest arrival or glitch along the way. Take it all in stride and roll with the changes.
V = VFR or Visiting Friends and Relatives. If your visit includes an overnight at Grandma’s instead of the local hotel, you might need to adjust your meal times and bed time to accommodate a different schedule.
W = Weather. One app I use daily is Weather Channel. When traveling, I bookmark that city on my phone so I can check in and alter travel plans as needed. This is especially helpful during the winter travel season.
X = Seriously, did you really think I could come up with a word for X? Nope! Since I can’t think of anything, I just want to remind you to bring the phone charger. It’s the #1 thing we forget when we pack and also the #1 thing we need the most when traveling. (See “E”)
Y = Yelp it. I prefer to use the Yelp app when I’m at the destination so I can input “restaurants” and “nearby locations” to find what’s close. Besides dining, you can also find attractions, shopping, hotels, businesses, etc.
Z = Grab some zzzzz’s before traveling. Changing time zones, routines or even beds can throw off your schedule, so prepare by grabbing a little extra R&R before you depart.