Holiday Travel Hints

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy Pixabay
While some of us are lucky enough to only have to go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house, others will wind up traveling out of state or clear across the country this holiday season.  If your travels take you beyond the borders of the Sunshine State, there are a few things you’ll need to do to increase the odds of avoiding a holiday from hell. In today’s blog, I will endeavor to provide you with a few tried and true holiday travel hints that could well save the day if your travel plans should get derailed.

Image courtesy of wikimedia
Did you know that more than 107 million Americans traveled during the Christmas holiday last year?  That’s an increase of 3.3% from the year previous.  While not all of them decided to fly the friendly skies, if you’re planning to book a jet this holiday season, there are several things you need to be aware:

1.      Just because the weather is unseasonably warm in Florida during the holidays, doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way where you’re headed or even in any airports your flight will make stopovers.  Make sure you check the weather report for your route and make contingency plans in case your flight is delayed or cancelled between JAX and your destination.  As bad as being stranded at an airport can be, try not to take it out on airport personnel or your family if a storm in the Midwest causes you to become grounded.  Nobody needs the Grinch to spoil their holiday.
2.      Allow extra time to get through airport security.  While JIA isn’t usually as crowded as LAX or O’Hare when it comes to getting through security and getting to your gate on time, during the holidays you can expect the crowds to be larger than usual. To keep from missing your flight, I recommend you get to the airport an hour earlier than usual.  While having to cool your heels in the terminal for an extra hour might sound as exciting as watching paint dry, think of how much worse the torture will be if you wind up missing the first leg of your flight because you get hung up at the security checkpoint.


Image courtesy of wikimedia
If you’re tired of being packed into a plane like a sardine, another way to travel is by train.  The difference between flying and riding the rails is you have much more freedom to get up and move around on a train.  While a long train trip will take more time than flying at 600 MPH, the scenery at ground level is much more picturesque than it is at 35,000 feet.  Here are a few other advantages to riding the rails:

1.      No security hassles – Tired of being treated like a felon before you board an airliner?  Traveling by rail eliminates the laborious and humiliating security shakedown.
2.      Tired of being told what you can and can’t take on a plane? – You won’t be forced to discard any of your personal items when you board a train.
3.      Do you always wind up getting seated next to a Chatty Cathy or a squalling baby every time you board a flight? – On a train you can simply get up and move to another seat, head for the club car or the dining car.
4.      Want to bring more luggage than a carry-on without worrying about your bags getting lost in transit?  On a train you don’t have to check your bags.


Image courtesy Public Domain Pictures
If your trip is 500 miles or less, it’s quite possible you will elect to drive.  If you’re planning to take the family sedan, minivan or SUV to colder climes, there are several considerations you need to make before you hit the open road:

1.      Make sure you check the extended forecast and dress appropriately.  – While it could well be in the 60’s or 70’s in Jacksonville during the holidays, even if you’re only planning on heading to Atlanta, the temperature could be 20-30 degrees colder.  A windbreaker isn’t going to cut it if the weather at your destination is going to be below freezing.
2.      Can your car handle the conditions up north? – While we Floridians never need to buy snow tires or ice scrapers, virtually everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line wouldn’t be caught dead without either of these items.  While it isn’t all that difficult to procure an ice scraper, chances are you aren’t going to invest in a set of snow tires before you head north to visit relatives.  Make sure you understand that should you encounter snow or ice on the road, your car is more likely to wind up skidding off the road.  An option if the extended forecast calls for snow, is to put a set of snow chains in your trunk. Better that than winding up driving into a ditch.
3.      What if you break down on the road? – While it isn’t all that difficult to phone for a tow truck now that nearly everyone has a cellphone, if you should encounter blizzard conditions on the way to grandma’s house, you had best be prepared to spend several hours or even a night cooped up in your car.  When I head north to visit relatives in the winter, I always make sure I pack food, drink and blankets just in case I get stranded for a time.  I also carry an emergency breakdown kit that includes reflective markers and flares.  If you’ve ever been stuck in a snowstorm, you know how difficult it is for others to see your car and how easy it is to wind up in an accident.
4.      Does your auto insurance policy include uninsured motorist coverage? – If not and you wind up getting in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you could wind up having the ho, ho, ho taken out of your holiday.

Whether you plan on traveling by plane, train or automobile this year, always expect the unexpected and plan for contingencies should your travel plans go awry.  Don’t let travel delays Grinch your Christmas this year.

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on renter’s insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


  1. Be safe out there this holiday season.

  2. I don't like to travel during the holidays, its crazy. However these tips are great.


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