According to Tripadvisor’s Winter Travel Trends report released this past November, 58% of Americans plan to travel this winter. Each season brings its wave of travel, and winter is no exception. This time window includes the popular December holiday travel season but also extends through January and February when travelers seek warmer climates and trips out of the house.
Families travel during the winter months for many reasons. Escaping cold weather is an obvious example, but families also seek more affordable travel outside of Christmas when the kids are off for long weekends or vacations around the winter holidays.
Seasonal tips must be top of mind if a vacation is coming up this winter. These tips don’t necessarily apply to the rest of the year, so it is essential to refresh your memory each winter. Experts agree that one bad snowstorm can derail even the most carefully planned trips. Families must be prepared and heed these warnings before hitting the road or skies this winter.
Plan Extra Time for Travel
Under perfect conditions, seasoned travelers know precisely how long it takes to drive to the airport, park the car, get through security, and so on. However, add weather into the mix, and those calculations get thrown out the window.
Whether traveling by plane or by car, experts agree that adding time for travel is vital. Leaving home earlier for the airport and hitting the roads an hour or two sooner than necessary provides a buffer in inclement weather. If snow is forecast for the same day as travel, be prepared to drive slower, as Kimberly Fidler, VP of Marketing for Get Away Today, advises. “If you’re driving, make sure your car is prepped for winter scenarios. Bring extra snacks and water. Perhaps even add an overnight stop if you’re making a long drive,” she notes.
Fidler also urges those traveling by plane to add extra time wherever possible, including the connecting flight when applicable. A longer layover allows for minor delays on the first leg of the journey without creating a catastrophic ripple effect. Think through every step of the journey, including ground transportation from the airport to your hotel.
Plan and Pack for Success
Avoiding potential pitfalls due to inclement weather starts with packing the right gear. The ideal winter packing list goes beyond snow boots and jackets, especially if driving, notes Sarah Gilliland, travel editor and writer at On the Road With Sarah. She says, “If driving in an area often affected by winter weather, an emergency car kit is a must. It should include blankets, flashlights, batteries, nonperishable food, water, and jumper cables just in case you are stranded on the road.”
Beyond packing the essentials for trips, Gilliland also recommends travelers be strategic when flying this time of year. “Flight delays or traffic are inevitable,” she adds. “Try booking connections in places that don’t experience as much winter weather that can delay travels.”
Opting for a layover in a city less likely to be impacted by snow will increase the odds that travel goes off without a hitch. So, rather than booking that layover through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, or Denver, Colorado, look for more southern hubs like Atlanta, Georgia, Houston, Texas, or Dallas, Texas.
Have a Flexible Itinerary
In the event of bad weather, vacation plans may get interrupted. If the weather delays your arrival time, then your vacation starts late. Often, if the storm is bad enough, this can cost you an entire day. Experts advise families to include an extra day at the end of the vacation to accommodate these potential setbacks. Rather than booking a five-night trip, for example, add a sixth night if the budget allows.
As Mikkell Woodruff, co-founder and editor of Sometimes Sailing, suggests, “Consider adding on another day if your work schedule and budget allow. You’ll be grateful you did just in case a winter storm delays your arrival by a day.”
Overall, flexibility is a crucial component of winter travel, and families must remain on alert and ready to change plans at a moment’s notice. Snowstorms are hard to predict, and stormy weather in one region of the country still impacts flights nationwide.
Eric Beigel, co-founder of The Insiders, adds, “Flexibility is key when traveling during the winter. So often, we have had flights canceled or moved because of weather. Even in areas that don’t often get snow, we have had to change our plans due to snowstorms and winter weather. Being flexible during this time of the year will make it much easier if something comes up that forces you to change your plans.”
Winter travel only sometimes comes with delays or bad weather, but as more families hit the road in 2024, one can never be too cautious regarding vacation planning.
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.