In the next couple of months, most of us will be spending a lot of time in stores, and online, shopping for gifts for our loved ones. If you’re going to be traveling to give those presents in person, why not make what can be a stressful travel season a little easier by gifting yourself with the following?
An early morning flight: Holiday travel season is also storm season. And when storms hit, the delays they cause ripple through the system, creating more delays and cancellations later in the day. So if you book an earlier flight, yes, you’ll have to leave your home before dawn, but you’ll stand a much better chance, statistically, of getting where you’re going on time, and with less hassle.
Airport Apps: With such handy and free apps as Gate Guru and Lounge Buddy, you can make the time waiting for your flight a bit more pleasant. The first gives full info and unvarnished reviews of the shops, restaurants and other services you’ll find near your departure gate. The latter is a guide to airport lounges, many of which are available, for a fee (which will vary widely from affordable to “you gotta be kidding”) to anyone who wants a more civilized nook in which to wait. Lounge Buddy, I should add, is not only informational, it serves as a booking engine for these lounges.
Waze: Another smartphone app, Waze not only gives driving directions but it uses its popularity to crowd source info on traffic patterns. If there’s a jam up ahead on the road—and when isn’t there when everyone’s driving to Grandma’s house for the holidays?—it steers you around the mess. The app is free.
Skipping Your Sister’s Couch: Over the holidays, many usually pricey business hotels, in business-centric destinations, have to cut rates to attract customers. If you’re going to one of those types of cities, try and snag a deal and bed down in comfort. Or see if you can rent a home or apartment through such services as Wimdu.com, AirBnB.com, Homeaway.com or FlipKey.com. No, a home won’t be cheaper than bunking with a relative, but it could be less pricey than a hotel, and you’ll have some welcome privacy.
Real Time Away: Put an "out of office" notice on your email and voicemail, and let your boss know that you’ll be back in touch after the holidays. Though it’s harder and harder to do so in this wired world of ours, there truly is no better gift you can give yourself than time with those you love…rather than with a screen or your work colleagues. Maybe if you insist on a real holiday, your co-workers will take one, too. If so, you’ll be giving more as much as you receive—which just about defines holiday spirit, doesn’t it?
Decorations don't make holiday time at the airport more tolerable (photo by CursedThing/Flickr)