BREATH

Holiday travel can be stressful, but early planning can make the journey a bit

easier.

Travel guru Geraldine Blanchard has the perfect approach for avoiding holiday travel stress.

She stays home.

“As a rule, I like to stay close to home Christmas week,” she said.

However, as president of Global Tours and Travel in Melbourne, Blanchard helps clients who want to reconnect with loved ones or connect with new places, during the holidays, and can speak to the planning required for a successful trip.

First and foremost, start early.

“The later you wait, the more you will pay in fares,” said Blanchard, who notes that airline rates and schedules are published 10 months in advance.

Folks interested in vacation trips should consider a travel agent, since they will take care of the minutiae and provide help should snags occur.

“We tell our clients to ‘just show up,’” she said.

Accepting that travel invariably involves hiccups will also better prepare you to deal with the expected unexpected.

“Getting there can be tedious and you have to be on top of your game, but the power of the mind is phenomenal,” said Blanchard, who meditates while en route and attends church just before leaving on a trip.

Jean Paugh of All About You Travel Unlimited encourages travelers to make reservations early. If they have not, they can expect to pay more.

“There is some last-minute stuff,” she said. “Your rates are going to be a little higher.”

Paugh advises that if taking a flight to reserve parking off the airport and to get to the airport three hours or more before a domestic flight.

Check in online.

“Embrace technology,” she said.

According to an AAA travel survey, a quarter of Floridians plan to take a trip during the holidays. Good luck to them if they plan to fly.

“Airline staffing shortages have resulted in fewer flights and higher prices,” said Debbie Haas, the vice president of travel for AAA — The Auto Club Group.

AAA recommends booking as early as possible for the best combination of availability and price.

If you can stomach it, book one of those predawn flights to avoid the delays and cancellations later flights often experience. Pad your schedule on both ends to give you wiggle room should delays occur, and give yourself a couple of hours between connections for a chance to catch the second flight should your first one be delayed.

The best day to leave for the holidays? That would be Christmas Day, typically the time when traveler numbers are down, as are the fares.

Accept the fact that tickets will cost you. Travel app Hopper is predicting record-high prices for flights, as well as for other transportation options.

Prepare for long TSA lines, hope for no weather delays and pray that COVID-19 doesn’t pop up, yet again.

Blanchard suggests three rules for travel, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

“First is stay calm,” she said.

“Second is stay calmer and third is stay the calmest possible.”