As parts of the world face a winter with temperatures going from cold to freezing cold, it is inevitable that there will be weather delays for business and leisure travelers as they crisscross countries. Travel Leaders Group, one of America’s largest retail travel companies with tens of thousands of travel agents across North America and Europe, offers several tips to help ease the travel for those braving this year’s frigid temperatures.
“Winter travel and weather-related delays often go hand in hand, from heavier traffic on the highways to delayed or canceled flights. However, the unexpected challenges need not stress out travelers with a little added planning and some advice from a seasoned travel agent,” said Ninan Chacko, CEO Travel Leaders Group.
Here are eight winter advisory travel tips from Travel Leaders Group:
Book early. Contact a travel agent who can help you avoid peak travel dates and travel times. Even if you must travel within a certain range of dates, the time of day you travel can help cut down on the amount of time you sit driving below the speed limit during heavy traffic or flying at peak times which might make it harder to land a reservation on the next flight out when yours is canceled. For example, you may want to avoid the first or last flight of the day depending on the start and end time of the storm since these flights have a higher frequency of being canceled.
Sign up for travel insurance. Often airlines will issue travel waivers that allow you to rebook your ticket away from the affected dates at no additional charge. You should take advantages of these when they post. However, for those instances where you may miss a flight because you were stuck in traffic or your ship sailed without you when your flight was canceled or delayed, travel insurance can be your saving grace to recoup all or part of your travel investment.
Get travel advisories or weather alerts delivered to your phone. There are several apps that allow you to receive email or text message notifications from your airline about your flight’s status. A weather.com app can keep you updated about conditions.
Pack a winter safety kit. Whether you’re driving or flying, prepare for possible delays with a few essentials. Pack a small extra bag with an extra sweater, gloves or small throw, as well as water and high-energy or high-protein foods such as granola bars or beef jerky. You may also want to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, a change of underwear and any needed prescription medications. Remember also a flashlight, extra batteries, or phone charger, a first aid kit and a good book.
Consider larger airports and travel light. If you suspect there may be severe weather threats during your time of travel, consider flying from a larger airport. Larger international airports will have a greater chance of more alternate flights, and they are also better equipped to clear runways faster or with de-icing of a plane. If you travel with only a carry-on, you’ll be in a better position to change flights quickly in the event of a cancellation.
Stay on the main roads. If you’re driving between destinations, stick to major highways or well-traveled roads. Not only are they likely to be plowed more quickly, there are others people who can come to your rescue easily should you need assistance. Travel also during daylight hours or when car repair shops or convenience stores are more likely to be open. If you’re stranded in your vehicle for an extended period of time, run your engine for only a few minutes once or twice an hour to stay warm and conserve gas. While the car is running, be sure to slightly roll down a window to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside.
Go west. For those looking for a temporary respite from the cold, they could go west to Arizona or south to the Caribbean. You don’t have to be a Baby Boomer to become a snowbird every winter. With many Americans and Canadians having the flexibility to work from home or remotely, it may be worth avoiding the coldest weeks of the year by working from some place sunny.
Enjoy the snow. And there are those who feel it just wouldn’t be winter without the snow, despite the cold. Any number of travel agents who specialize in skiing and winter sports can tell you where to go and what to see in places such as Aspen, Jackson Hole, or Banff, Canada. Whether you are a skier, snowboarder or just want to lounge at the spa on a snowy backdrop, consider toput together the perfect m ountain vacation.