Sleighs, Trains, and Automobiles: A Holiday Travel Guide

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Sleighs are an option, but they can be a bit ostentatious this time of year.

Sleighs are an option, but they can be a bit ostentatious this time of year.

If you travel for your winter break, I genuinely hope that you already booked your trip. If you haven’t, I assume it will be the equivalent of the “I need a ticket to anywhere, right now!” moment that happens in most romantic comedies.

Holiday travel can be a serious nightmare, but if handled correctly, it can go smoothly. Here’s my guide to having a winter wonderland (at least, from a travel standpoint).

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First, it’s important to remember that while the late-December rush is tough, Thanksgiving isand always will bethe ultimate struggle. Everyone travels on Tuesday or Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, whereas winter break travel is far more varied. Since the actual rush isn’t as crazy, you can navigate more easily and find yourself a deal.

BOOK EARLY

As soon as I deciphered my exam schedule, I started scouring the Internet for options. I looked at the buses, trains, and planes for the day I wanted to travel and found a great deal. (I took the train, which I love. It doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of a holiday airport, and it’s not as utterly depressing as the bus.)

Had I waited, I would have ended up sorting through sold-out trips and high prices. I’m grateful that I looked early and saved some cash (and that my mother continually reminded me to do so).

THE PACKING PARADOX

So, you’re going home for a few weeks. How much clothing should you bring with you? Hmmm. Interesting question. What’s your clothes-at-home situation? Do you plan on receiving lots of clothing as gifts (ladies…)?

This can actually be a really tough conundrum. Two years ago, I over-packed going homeand put even more into my bag for the return trip. I ended up paying Southwest $50, because bags don’t fly free if they weigh over 50 pounds. Lesson learned.

When you’re packing, think about your trip there and your trip back. And check to see what the rules and limits are for luggage on your flight/train/ride.

TRAVEL BUDDIES: FRIEND OR FOE?

Traveling with a close friend can be a lot of fun, and it ensures the person next to you won’t smell or rudely take up all the leg room (unless your friends are smelly and rude). And for short trips, like a cab to the airport, adding another person just makes things cheaper.

However, before you commit to a long-term journey with someone else, consider the outcome. You need to decide whether or not  you get any savings or benefits out of it, and what the cost will be.

How do you travel for the holidays? Share with a comment!

(Photo: DeclanTM)

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  1. Phillipa August 20, 2013 / 7:40 am

    I usually take travel wash for my clothes when travelling so I don’t need to pack so much and can hand wash my clothes wherever I stay. France is a good destination all year round.

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