I’ve been pretty successful at putting off traveling during the holidays for the last couple of years much to the dismay of my three children who did not waste a moment in letting me know they were bored out of their skulls. Even with local activities planned it was hard to make the most of their time off, so for the second time I am relenting and planning another winter ski trip to rendezvous with friends in Park City, Utah.
I absolutely dread crowded airports, restaurants, activities, you name it-so as much as I am excited for our adventure amidst the decorations and twinkly lights, I am not excited about the hassle during holiday time when everyone else is traveling too. Having had a great time last year in spite of the crowds (and my kids telling me they had the best winter break EVER!) I've put together a few tips that are sure to work to make your holiday travel much more enjoyable.
1. Fly out of a regional airport
During holiday time major airports can be a huge tangle of lines going nowhere, confusion, and complete and utter madness, and that’s after you brave the ridiculous traffic just to get to the airport. I live an hour away from LAX and avoid it like the plague at holiday time. Regional airports for the most part are a breeze, meaning less crowded and with short security lines as there are fewer flights and smaller terminals. A regional airport may be out of your way, but you have to weigh the drive time versus the wait time at a major airport. You may also not be able to get a direct flight from a regional airport-but often times the connection you make will be a lot less hassle than braving the nightmare at a major airport.
2. Book your activities way in advance
Everyone is traveling at holiday time and no surprise, everyone is going to want to do the same things you are so as most things in life the early bird gets the worm. The sooner you know what you want to do the better and book it. For ski lessons, I booked them the first day the resort opened for the dates I knew would be impossible to get later on which made our whole experience hassle free. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, like last year when we booked our "Never Ever Snowboard" lessons at Park City Mountain Resort at the last minute, but why take that kind of chance? There’s always room to be spontaneous, but make sure you’ve got your major activities covered so no one is left out in the cold.
3. Plan where you want to eat and make reservations
Where we totally messed up last year was restaurants-but learning from our mistakes we are totally prepared this year. If you are going to a resort area and it’s not all-inclusive, try to make as many restaurant reservations ahead of time as possible. We were stuck on numerous occasions having to eat much later or super early because we didn’t anticipate that every restaurant in Park City would be booked solid....Helloooo it's Holiday Time! Sadly there were some really great places we’d heard about and wanted to try but couldn’t get in because we didn’t book in advance. With great services like OpenTable making restaurant reservations in advance, even way in advance is super easy and will leave you with peace of mind to enjoy the rest of your vacation instead of breaking your head like I did figuring out where you’re going to eat.
While nothing can make holiday crowds disappear, tweaking your plans and thinking ahead can definitely take the stress out of holiday travel.