It seems like everyone's going somewhere in December.
Whether it's an escape from winter to an all-inclusive down south or a hometown trip back east for the holidays, every plane, train, and automobile appears to be running on overdrive.
Likewise, travellers themselves are stretched thin with shopping and social engagements galore and so by mid-month it can be hard to tell top from tail, and tasks like packing can feel extra daunting. But our Travel Experts are here to help, with tips and holiday travel hacks to make life on the go this month easier.
How to travel with gifts
Keep wrapped presents packed inside checked luggage rather than carry-on baggage, but be aware that the TSA is able to request packages in either space be opened and inspected. Even though scanners aren't thwarted by thin wrapping paper, gifts are treated like any other item and are subject to search. Your best bet? Ship presents separately before your trip, or leave them unwrapped until you reach your destination.
How to keep New Year's Eve jewelry together
Keep tiny, easily misplaced pieces of bling organized and accessible during your travels by repurposing everyday items from around the house for their safekeeping. Store jewelry inside small containers like breath mint containers or pill bottles; try threading delicate necklaces through a drinking straw to keep them from tangling, or keeping pairs of earrings together using buttonholes.
How to keep holiday party outfits in good shape
Fold dresses and other delicate clothing inside out and place tissue paper or dry-cleaning bags in the folds to reduce wrinkles. If they crinkle up anyway, hang items in the hotel washroom while you take a hot shower in order to steam out some of the damage.
If you're packing ironed pants, use them to line the bottom of your suitcase and leave their legs dangling over the edge until everything else is packed. When you pull the legs back over the pile, their creases will be left intact.
How to travel with your mom's favourite wine
When you've got to go right from the gate to the in-law's and want to show up with their preferred Merlot in hand, you can keep leaks and broken glass at bay by packing either end of the bottle into a pair of shoes built with enough cushioning to keep fragile items in one piece. For extra security, slip the bottle into a thick sock first, and use the second sock to wrap around the bottleneck as it's the most likely place to crack. Don't forget to keep bottles in your checked luggage, rather than a carry-on - there's nothing worse than having to ditch booze at the airport!
How to fit all those thick ugly Christmas sweaters into your luggage
No holiday season is complete without donning an ugly Christmas sweater at least once. But it – and winter clothing in general – can be problematic in taking up precious suitcase space thanks to their thick and bulky nature.
Always pack heavy items like sweaters and coats at the bottom of a suitcase, with lighter layers on top nearer the handle to provide extra stability when wheeling around. Also roll, rather than fold, clothing: not only does this save space, it helps items from wrinkling. Place t-shirts and other smaller items on top of bulky ones and roll them together to maximize space and minimize wrinkling.
How to deal with packed airports
Take every travel rule you know to the next level during the busy holiday season to avoid missing flights because you're stuck in traffic or check-in lineups. Leave earlier, arrive earlier, triple-check boarding times.
Invest in a wireless charger so you're not fighting for the limited number of airport charging ports and as a backup, bring some non-tech entertainment like a good book or a sketchpad to ensure you're not left twiddling your thumbs while your iPhone recharges.
Besides big crowds and battles for limited resources, a big side effect of holiday travel is an extra influx of illnesses making their way between destinations. Whether you yourself are feeling sniffly or anticipate your seat mate hacking up a lung, be sure to carry items like a mask, lozenges, and tissues on your day of travel for both your comfort and the consideration of others. And as an extra preventative measure, get a flu vaccination two weeks before your departure. It takes about that long for protection to set in and will keep you from carrying viruses over to loved ones.
How to deal with flight delays and cancellations
The reality is that travelling during winter months – no matter your method of travel – can result in some pretty frustrating itinerary changes. But with a bit of foresight you can deal with any hiccup without hitting the airport bar.
Bring an extra sweater to transform into a pillow in case you experience delays or extended wait times and have to consider napping at your gate. Pass the time by watching your favourite holiday movies on Netflix, which recently launched offline mode so you can download episodes while you're at home and watch them at the airport (or in the air!) without using Wi-Fi or dipping into your data allowance.
Most importantly: purchase travel insurance to account for the increase in seasonal weather issues, and the itinerary changes that those issues can compound! Travel insurance provides reassurance that no matter what winter throws your way, you'll be able to keep moving towards your holiday destination with minimal headache or expense.