December 12 2012 by Bryson Forbes
Tis the season to be jolly but it's also the busiest time of the year to travel. In fact this year maybe particularly busy for Canadians simply because of when Christmas falls this year, it's on a Tuesday. What that means for a great number of people is that they end work on Friday, Dec 21st and can essentially only burn two (maybe three depending on your employer) vacation days and stay off until Wednesday, January 2nd. For the "vacation maximers" this is pure bliss, a full eleven days for the price of two.
So if you are travelling this year, here are a few tips to make the process a little easier and keep everyone in the holiday spirit.
1) Pack your patience - whether on the road, at the airport or even the train station, more people leads to congestion which means you are waiting longer than normal. If your expect it and plan for it perhaps it can be less annoying. A good book, playlist or simply packing your iPad may keep your nerves in check.
2) Don't wrap your gifts - this has actually happened to me. We flew to Calgary to spend Christmas with my parents and my sister and her family. We thought we were smart by wrapping all the gifts before we went, so we didn't have to waste our precious time once we got there. That certainly backfired; our precious time was indeed wasted wrapping the same gifts twice after airport security opened them the first time.
3) If you are driving make sure you get winter tires - many Canadians don't realize that it is the temperature and not just the snow that can affect your tires. A temperature consistently under plus seven degrees Celsius is the alarm bell for winter tire season. I spoke to a friend who owns a garage and he told me last month that the road warriors were already in getting their tires changed. Don't wait for the first blizzard, switch your tires up now.
4) Book early - if you haven't booked your travel itinerary yet, do it now. The demand is high and in turn prices will rise as hotel rooms and flights book up. Holiday travel is not the time to try to wait for a last minute deal. In all likelihood you will be disappointed or worse grounded.
5) Shop online - whether it's gifts or travel try to shop online. Best Western for example has offers like the one running now for 250 reward points simply for booking on their site. For your gifts, after our Calgary experience, we bought everything from Target (now in Canada!) and had them wrap it and ship it (for free I might add) to our destination last year in Scottsdale. It was the easiest and best experience ever!
As the season draws closer take heed of my advice fellow travellers. It can get pretty ugly out there. However, patience, common sense and few tips from a would be expert may be just enough to keep you happy, safe and jolly this year. What are your travel tips for the holidays?