Holiday Travel How Did You Survive

Storms, crowds, and lack of time…it was holiday travel season at its finest! Our recent four day trip through Florida and Georgia was like a travel 101 course forcing us to think and rethink what to do and what not to do to survive the busiest travel season. So right after Christmas, we flew into Atlanta, Georgia and drove immediately to Orlando, Florida to celebrate my grandmother-in-law’s 100th birthday. From there we drove to Savannah, Georgia, and then back to Atlanta to fly out. In normal circumstances, this would have been pretty easy for us because we do things like this often…what we call flash trips that involve visiting a lot of places in a short period of time, but then we had to throw in winter storm Goliath that brought tornados, flooding, and ice storms all over the country on top of the usual holiday crowds. Airports were crazy; the roads were even more crazy! It definitely drained us, but we managed to still see new places like this beach on Jekyll Island in Georgia which served as a peaceful sanctuary for us when we really needed it. We will be sharing more about our experience there this week. Now we hope that holiday travel in the future won’t be as difficult as it was this year because if it is…well, we will be locking ourselves up in our home any time someone utters the words holiday travel! Nonetheless, we undeniably learned some things from this experience that we wanted to share with you all…tips we successfully used and some we didn’t and will definitely make use of the next time we find ourselves in the middle of the festive chaos!

  1. Embrace your inner meteorologist. Weather was the biggest obstacle for us during our travels, and it gave way to some mistakes that we made…like not checking the weather everywhere in the country. We just focused on the locations that we were visiting and everything looked fine where we were. We failed to remember that weather in other states and cities like the numerous tornados in Dallas would delay or affect our travels. Next time, we will be keeping a close eye on the wider weather patterns!

  2. Expect lines longer than the ones at Disney World. When we got to the Austin airport two hours before takeoff, we were unpleasantly surprised by the long lines at the check-in counters. It was a sea of people at every airline, and to be honest…we didn’t think that we would make our flight. Luckily though, we did make it to the gate right when it was our turn to board. Now we thought this was all due to the holiday season, but we later learned that there were quite a few flights diverted from Dallas to Austin due to the bad weather the night before. Again it is something we should have thought about ahead of time. Also this applies to the roadways because when we left Atlanta with our rental car, we were stuck in major traffic for a considerable amount of time. So basically, we learned the importance of leaving early!

  3. Have a plan A, plan B, plan C…and maybe a plan D. We had a list of places we wanted to see, but they didn’t all happen because it took awhile to get there and the weather was all over the place. We also were not quite sure if we would be able to successfully fly out of Atlanta on our way back due to flooding and rain. So we had a road trip back to Austin in our back pocket just in case…luckily, we didn’t have to do that. Also at every overnight destination we came up with a flexible plan if weather got bad. It’s a lot of effort, but safety and planning went hand in hand on this trip!

  4. Plan to do less. We love to overload our travel schedule, but during the holiday season it is just not a good idea. We were tired…we were frustrated…we kind of wanted to treat it like a true vacation, so what we did to survive is just expect to do less. We still planned to do a lot, but we were okay if we didn’t fit it all in!

  5. Book a comfortable hotel aka comfortable bed. We made the mistake of booking our hotel in Orlando late, and apparently this city books up pretty quickly during the holidays. We booked the first hotel we could find and ended up with sore backs from sleeping on a rock hard bed. Holiday travel stress became more apparent because of our lack of a good night sleep…so next time, we’ll definitely plan ahead and focus on the comfortability of the hotel…Trip Advisor is great for that!

  6. Don’t be a worrier. I’m a natural worrier, my husband is not…but during these travels we were both certainly worried about each and every next step in the trip…perhaps a little too much. We learned the best way to relax is to realize you’ll make it through and just stop worrying!