It’s no secret airports are bustling with excitement during the holiday season. Cross-border families are looking to reunite with their loved ones and celebrate this special time together. Students and teachers are taking advantage of the chance to travel during the winter break. Parents and grandparents are surprising the kids with a much-desired trip to Disney.
The holidays are the most popular time to travel—and for good reason. But holiday vacations can also be stressful for everyone involved. In order to make the most of your next holiday trip, keep the following tips in mind:
Plan ahead to get the best deal.
“The best deals are definitely booking well in advance,” says Nancy Barnard, co-owner and luxury travel specialist at Europa Travel & Tours in Newmarket. “Tour operators bring out early booking bonuses quite early in the season.” Often, travellers are able to secure their booking with a small deposit and then pay the remaining balance closer to the trip. Keep an eye out for price drop guarantees as well, so that if the price does go down before departure, you can lock in the best rate.
Look for opportunities to get everyone involved.
When choosing a destination and mapping out your itinerary, consider the places where you (and your family) have been before. What did you like and dislike about your past vacations? What other destinations are on your list? “Usually Canadians are seeking out sun during Christmas and March Break, so the Caribbean is definitely [a common choice],” says Barnard.
Budget should always be top of mind, but think about whom you’re travelling with and what kind of destination is most appealing to everyone. “Multi-generational travel is becoming very popular, so you have grandparents, grandchildren and all ages in between,” Barnard says. “Try to find something for everyone and consider the abilities of each person.” At the same time, look to avoid the stress of over-planning and trying to cram as much as possible into your schedule.
Give yourself plenty of time.
While the airport may not be the place where you’re looking to spend a lot of time, arriving early and giving yourself a generous window will help ensure a smooth start to your trip. “Airports can be a bit of a nightmare during peak season,” Barnard says. “Make sure you have lots of time—at least three hours—because you’re looking at dealing with check-in lineups, as well as security lineups.”
Ensure all paperwork is accurate and up-to-date.
The little details go a long way. Make sure your passports are up-to-date, and that your ticket is booked under the same name that appears on your passport. “Some countries require your expiration date to be at least six months after your return date,” notes Barnard. “If you arrive at the airport and your passport is only good for the next month, you can be denied boarding.”
Don’t forget about cancellation and medical insurance, either. Barnard recommends securing both, “just in case.” And if a parent of the child travelling is not going to be on the trip, it’s a good idea to take along a letter of consent showing all parent parties have agreed to the child leaving the country.
Consider working with a travel agent.
With the right resources, planning a trip can be almost as exciting as actually taking one. Working with a travel agent can help make the experience as seamless as possible. They have access to all of the early booking bonuses and discount emails from suppliers, and there is no additional cost to you for using their services. “Come to a travel agent and let us do all the work for you; there’s a lot of value in that,” says Barnard. “The Internet doesn’t care if you have a good holiday or not—but travel consultants do.”
Europa Travel & Tours, Newmarket
Verstraete Travel & Cruises, Aurora
by Charlotte Ottaway