Tips For Stress-Free Holiday Season Travel

Book Early, Pack Light

The holiday season is fast approaching, and many Canadians will soon be piling into planes, trains and automobiles for the annual pilgrimage to visit family and friends. The flurry of activity is stressful enough without adding travel mishaps to the list, so here are some tips dedicated to increasing the odds you’ll arrive with holiday spirit intact.

By Air

Book Now If You Haven’t Already
The key to securing the best deal during a busy time is flexibility in your travel dates. Weekdays between Christmas and New Year’s tend to be less busy and better-priced. And if you’re one of those who wait until the last minute, your best bet is to call a travel agent. You can spend hours on the Internet trying to save a few bucks, but an agent will save you time and money.

Arrive early
The early bird can avert many airport challenges, like long lines at check-in and security. If you didn’t pre-book your seats, the best chance of getting decent ones is by arriving early. New premium lounges are available in Toronto and Vancouver, so why not treat yourself, pay the entry fee and relax in a lounge for a couple of hours before your flight.

Watch Your Stuff
Airports are extremely crowded during the peak holiday period and all those gifts make an attractive target for thieves. Pay extra attention to your surroundings and maintain a close watch over tickets, wallets, purses, and other belongings at all times.

Liquid Assets
Help speed up security processing by following the rules. Remember that regulations now limit the amount of gels and liquids passengers can carry on. You can only carry travel-size toiletries of three ounces or less that fit comfortably in a clear plastic zip-top bag. Also, you are carrying gifts, don’t wrap them or you might find a security agent unwrapping Aunt Susie’s sweater. You can always pack collapsible gift bags to be used as wrapping upon arrival.

Pack Light Or Pay The Price
Airlines are much stricter these days on baggage weight limits, and it’s not hard to go over. Not only will you pay $20 or more per kilogram over the limit, you’ll waste time and hold up the line. If you have heavy gifts to bring with you, consider shipping them ahead of time.

By Car

Plan and Book Well in Advance
Rental car fleets are smaller than they used to be and you don’t want to get caught without wheels. Last summer saw some disappointed Canadians who couldn’t find vehicles during peak times. The same goes for hotels and popular restaurants.

Winter Driving Tips
Before any long-distance drive during a Canadian winter, make sure your oil is fresh and your fluids topped up. Snow tires are highly recommended and an emergency kit is essential. The kit should include a shovel, food and water, a blanket, extra gloves and scarf, a candle and a deep can to burn it in. A roll of duct tape can always come in handy too.

Photo Credits:, filo

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.