Getting ready for the trip of a lifetime

This year, I’m having family come to me. Traveling’s great; but, sometimes I just want to hunker down and invite people over. I don’t mind all the cooking and cleaning beforehand. And afterward? Who cares how long it takes to clean up the mess and eat through the leftovers? The time and stress of traveling at this time of year can put a damper on the ole Xmas spirit, especially if you’re hauling a sleighful of presents along behind you.

So, now’s the time to pass on some very wise holiday tips courtesy of CAA and Hotels.com.

If you’re traveling, remember these:

  • Double check the expiration date on your passport.
  • Review your airline’s policy for check in and carry-on luggage.
  • Make sure you handle your own luggage.
  • Ensure you have purchased travel insurance.
  • Check in online and print your boarding passes at home prior to leaving for the airport.
  • Arrive early as airports are expected to be busier than normal.
  • Be prepared for long lines and delays.

“If you are travelling with gifts, remember to pack the presents unwrapped and wrap them when you arrive at your destination. Another option is to ship the gifts ahead of time,” said Silvana Aceto, Media and PR Specialist, CAA SCO.

Packing tips:

  • Make a checklist.
  • Choose the right luggage.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding to save space.
  • Stuff your socks in your shoes.
  • Use small bottles for your toiletries.
  • Weigh your bags with a hand held luggage scale.
  • Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane.
  • For carry-on items, make sure all liquid bottles are a maximum of 100 ml and fit into a 1 L clear plastic bag.

Once you get there…

“We’ve all heard stories about nightmare guest,” says Taylor L. Cole, director public relations and social media, North America at Hotels.com. “Visits with family and friends should be enjoyable and these easy to follow tips can help with holiday etiquette. Also remember, if you’re the type of person that needs your space and alone time, a nearby hotel is likely a better choice than bunking with the entire family at grandma’s house.”

Hosting over the holidays:

Welcome home: Make your guests feel right at home by providing easy access to amenities they find in hotels or their own homes like a TV channel guide in their room, Wi-Fi access cheat sheet and by providing a quick tour of the kitchen and pantry.

Get cozy: Unless you’re in the Caribbean, it’s probably cold outside. Do as the top hotels and put out a throw pillow, slippers or a robe. This simple gesture will make your guests feel right at home. There is also something super cozy about the warm glow of lamps and candles – especially those with yummy holiday scents!

Stock up on warm drinks: Hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee and tea are an easy and affordable way to treat your guests. Consider putting a coffee maker in your guest room so guests can have fresh java just the way they like it.

Bring out the games: Regardless of age, we’re never too old to have some fun. Board games are a great way to spend time together away from the television. Building a gingerbread house is another great activity if there are kids around.

Prepare toiletries: Create a little kit for your guest room that includes everything they might need, or could forget, including toothbrushes, shampoo and body lotion.

Be a good guest:

Just because you’re the one travelling, don’t expect the world to cater to you (even if you’re at a hotel). Remember it’s not just your holiday, so treat your hosts well too.

Show gratitude and bring a gift: A host or hostess gift is a must if visitingfriends or family. This small gesture could apply to hotel guests too. Pay it forward and give your bell hop or housekeeper a generous tip, or bring the doorman hot chocolate. Remember hotel employees are missing the holidays with their families to serve you. A little appreciation goes a long way!

Clean up after yourself: Wash your plates or stack them in the dishwasher after meals and don’t forget to strip your bed before you leave.

Don’t expect a babysitter: If you’re travelling with kids, just because you’re on vacation, remember it is still your responsibility to watch them. If your child is in the curious stage, bring some easy and temporary childproofing items with you like cabinet and door locks.

Respect house rules: This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to your host it matters. Show respect, and if certain areas are off limits, or shoes are to be removed when inside, it’s important to do so.

Thank you notes are key: Never underestimate the power of the written word. Whether you stayed with family or at a hotel, a simple note is a great way to express your appreciation.

More tips:

Sometimes there simply isn’t room to stay at the homes of your relatives or friends, or maybe you’re just looking to get away for the holidays. Here are some places where you might like to lay your head.

  • Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, AB: This hotel developed a special holiday booklet to keep guests apprised of all the activities. Attractions include a gingerbread house workshop to Santa’s workshop, cookie decorating, a traditional Christmas sing-a-long, ice skating and much more. $164
  • The Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV: The Bellagio hotel transforms its Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to accommodate the holiday theme which includes daily live musical erformances, oversized ornaments, bells and snowflakes. $113
  • The New York Palace in New York, NY: This hotel is known for its stunning holiday decorations. Located near Fifth Avenue shopping, ice skating and the famous tree at Rockefeller Center this hotel gives you the authentic New York holiday experience. $257
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