Holiday Travel, By The Numbers

Holiday Travel

Holiday travel is almost upon us and that has a greater than ever number of people in the air, at sea and on the road for Christmas. Call it what you will; an improving economy, declining unemployment, pent-up travel lust or just that time of the year; travelers nationwide have plans for the holidays.

“The year-end holiday season is the busiest travel time of the year,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson in a TBNWeekly report. “Whether families plan a traditional holiday at grandma’s house or a cruise to the Caribbean, one thing is certain, being with family and friends remains the most important factor during the holiday season.”

How does it all break down? Let’s take a look, by the numbers:

15 million people in the United States will head to airports this holiday season, slightly fewer than last year.

35 airports now have the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck trusted traveler program that allows members who have been deemed low risk to keep on their shoes, jackets and belts.12 and 75– Children 12 and under and passengers 75 and older get expedited screening at any TSA checkpoint.

93.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6 percent from 2011, says AAA.

$3.25 per gallon was the current average price as of Monday December 17, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, who predicts less than $3 becoming commonplace in the near future.

7.7 million Texans will leave home for the holidays. 7.1 million by motor vehicle, the rest by air, train, bus and cruise ship.

11.7 million California residents, the most ever, will travel 50 miles or more during the end-of-year holiday season.

32 cruise ships from major cruise lines Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines will be sailing seven-day itineraries that will be at sea on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Thirteen of them are sold out.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/18/5060965/californians-may-set-holiday-travel.html#storylink=cpy

However we count it, holiday travel is expected to be at its highest level in six years, as we see in this video:




[Photo credit- Flickr user q… focusing on other media]

Airline Travel Tips To Count On

airline travel tipsAirline travel tips come from a variety of sources, all with good intentions. Crowd-sourced recommendations have their place, but often amount to more of a popularity contest than information to bank on. Professional travel writers make it all sound easy but shouldn’t they? It is their job to do so. Going directly to the source, airlines offer their own version of travel tips, based on moving millions of people every day.

Alaska Air suggests some everyday travel tips that include keeping our confirmation codes handy for when a reservation needs to be checked, changed or modified. Armed with that gateway code, we can check flight times, know when to arrive at the airport and gate and choose from a variety of check-in options.

On holiday travel, Alaska Air suggests wrapping gifts at our destination since they are subject to TSA inspection and allow plenty of time to get through congested parking lots and airports during holiday travel periods.American Airlines suggests taking it easy between flights in their Admirals Club with a One-Day Pass, available online or at self-service check-in machines to relax in comfort and elegance. The one-day pass can be used at multiple lounges throughout a day of travel.

Buying a ticket and not exactly sure on the flight times? American Airlines reminds us of the relatively new 24-hour hold option we can put on an airline ticket while we firm up travel plans or shop around.

Offering some tips for healthy travel, United Airlines suggests wearing comfortable shoes, getting a good night’s sleep before flying and drinking plenty of liquids, but not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

“While away, get as many hours of sleep every day as you normally would at home,” says United Airlines on its website. “Taking short naps of 30 to 40 minutes will refresh you as you adjust to the new time zone.”

Light meals and simple stretching exercises can help too, says United with detailed tips to help avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, mainly in the legs.

Airports also have travel tips for us, like this one from San Francisco International Airport:



[Photo Credit- Flickr user catorze14]

5 Tips For Holiday Travel With A Baby


With Thanksgiving days away, ’tis the season for screaming infants and squirming toddlers packed onto planes, right? Flying with a baby doesn’t have to be a nightmare, even during the very busy holiday travel season. Whether you are flying home to introduce your baby to the grandparents, or taking a much-needed island vacation with your newly-expanded family, here are some tips to help you (and your seatmates) cope with flying with a baby:

Don’t scrimp on the extras and factor them into your travel budget. Pre-baby, you might have been able to deal with a red-eye flight with multiple connections on a bare-bones budget airline in order to save on ticket airfare. When you are flying with a small child on your lap, there are certain upgrades you may wish to make that will pay off in spades. Check your luggage (though pack light anyway), so you have as little to carry on the plane as possible (and while we’re on the subject, always have a carrier/wrap/sling as you can’t always take your stroller to the gate). Add on extra legroom or the airline’s “economy plus” so you have a little more room to maneuver. These days, only some long-haul or international flights have baby bassinets, and even then, they will only fit up until one year or so. Do your homework: depending on the airline and route, it might make sense to purchase a seat for your infant (often with additional baggage allowance), especially if they are happy to sit in a car seat for the flight. Trust me, these things will be worth the extra $50 or so, but factor it into your ticket cost and budget accordingly.Be resourceful and creative about in-flight entertainment. Many new parents feel they have to pack a separate suitcase full of toys to entertain a child on a plane, but you want to keep your carry-on items to a minimum. You’d also be surprised with what you already have in your purse or diaper bag can be endlessly interesting to a baby: your keys, your bag of small toiletries, even your wallet. At one year, my daughter became fascinated with pulling things out of my wallet, so I now carry a cheap card wallet for her to play with containing all of our old hotel key cards. She’s also spent hours packing and unpacking my make-up bag, and since we’re in a small space, I can make sure she’s not eating my lipstick or stashing my Amex card between the seats. Even the seat has fun buttons to press (as long as they aren’t controlling your neighbor’s seat); magazines to leaf through; and plastic straws, ice and cups from drink service. Carry some actual toys too, but keep them pocket-sized: a small pouch full of IKEA finger puppets is one of the best investments I’ve ever made and has often appeased other kids on the plane too. Anything that won’t make a mess or an annoyance to other passengers is fair game to me. There’s always the failsafe cellphone, or tablet computer if you have one (check out Best Apps for Kids for recommendations); once it’s safe to use approved electronics, of course.

Don’t be afraid of the back of the plane. I used to dread the back of the plane, especially as I was loathe to check luggage and therefore wanted early access to the precious amount of overhead bin space. Now since I’m usually checking anyway, I don’t mind being in the back; it’s close to the bathroom and the flight attendants, often less crowded than the premium seats in the front, and when we land, I have more time to collect all the things the baby has pulled out of my purse. Most airlines have discontinued early boarding for families, but even if it’s offered, you may want more time in the relative comfort and space of the gate area before boarding. The only drawback to the back of the plane is other children, especially if yours tends to be influenced by the cries and sounds of other babies. In case of another child’s meltdown, it might be the time to distract yours with a video, and hand your finger puppets over to the other parents.

Dress naturally and for comfort. A few years ago, I read that because of breathability, it’s more comfortable to fly in a wool dress suit than a polyester track suit. This especially makes sense in winter when you are going from cold runways to overheated airports and erratic cabin temperatures, often rushing to make a plane and laden with baggage. Babies will sleep more comfortably in a cotton or other natural fabric one-piece pajama and it’s also easy to change diapers, and light to pack a spare in your diaper bag. Dressing baby in pajamas can also help feel it’s time for a sleep rather than running around the cabin. I’ve seen many small children traveling in fleece outfits (fleece is essentially code for polyester), and those same children are often sweaty and restless once the airplane’s heater kicks on. For me, I tend to feel much warmer trekking through an airport with a 20-pound person strapped to me, so I try to ditch my coat as soon as possible. My favorite is a lightweight down jacket from Uniqlo that packs down into a tiny bag that I can stash under the stroller or in a suitcase until I’ve reached my final destination. Finally, while baby might look cute and comfy in PJs, you are better off in two pieces with a spare shirt, in case you need to change mid-flight after an accident.

Go with baby’s schedule. No one really has the definitive answer on how to fight jetlag but when it comes to traveling with a baby, you may have to just give in to their schedule demands rather than force them to conform. In the early months, they’ll adjust to time changes easily since they sleep constantly, but older babies might just force you to stay on your usual time zone and adjust slowly. Look for flights that suit your schedule best: my baby does best on early morning or overnight flights when she tends to sleep, even if it means less rest for me. You might be off your game for the first few days when you arrive, but isn’t sleeping late and taking mid-day naps what vacations and time home with family are for? Letting the baby sleep when she wants can also help her stay healthy: you are more prone to illness if your body is exhausted. I also let her eat on demand and find breastfeeding ideal for travel, especially to keep her ears from getting clogged on take off and landing, and provide immunities to ward off sickness. Older or non-breastfed babies can have a pacifier, bottle, or sippy cup for takeoff. I’m personally not a big fan of anti-bacterials, but wash hands and anything baby touches frequently with soap and water.

We’ve survived over three dozen flights and twelve countries with no tantrums or crying, read more tips and advice in the “Knocked Up Abroad” series.

Disney World at Christmas: Expect crowds. BIG crowds.

Disney World Christmas crowdsI spent many a childhood vacation driving back and forth to Florida. My family loved to vacation here. We went to various beach communities around the state, and our trips would often involve a day or two spent at Walt Disney World.

So the whole family was excited when, in 1984, one of my aunts moved to Florida. It was immediately decided that the extended family would spend Christmas there. Not only that, but we were all going to Walt Disney World. On the day after Christmas. Because, surely no one is on vacation at Walt Disney World at Christmastime.

On Dec. 26, the whole extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, probably 18-20 of us – loaded up in a motor home for the 1-hour drive to Walt Disney World. It was smooth sailing for the first 45 minutes, and then we hit the traffic. It took an extra hour to get into the parking lot, and the lot closed practically right behind us.

I still remember the nervous voices of my parents and the other adults in the car, quietly discussing the crowd levels.When we got up to the Ticket and Transportation Center, there were people everywhere. Into the Magic Kingdom we went, and it was packed, as well. I only remember riding one ride that Dec. 26 – It’s a Small World. I also remember waiting at least an hour in a 2-hour line for Dumbo before being forced to leave the line because some younger cousins had to use the bathroom.

Our expectations of an empty park and lots of rides and shows were not met, and the whole day was way less than magical.

I have now lived in Florida myself for 17 years. And almost every January or February, I run into someone, new to Florida, who decided that Walt Disney World would be empty around Christmas and it would be the perfect time to take the family. And their tale always ends up like mine. I listen, and then explain that there are certain times of year that we locals – and that includes them now – don’t go the parks. Christmas is tops on that list.

What I know now is that many families have made a trip to Walt Disney World their Christmas tradition. And with good reason, because there are a lot of Christmas sights to see at Disney World. But those folks go in with their eyes open to the crowds.

So, trust me, Walt Disney World is crowded at Christmas. While Disney doesn’t release attendance figures, the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day are widely believed to be the highest attended times in the Disney theme parks every year.