The holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun. But if you’re planning on traveling with your loved ones this year, it’s essential to take extra precautions to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries still impose travel restrictions and quarantines, so it’s essential to research the latest information before booking your trip.

Here are a few best practices to remember before hitting the road (or taking to the skies) this holiday season.

1. Get travel insurance.

If you or anyone in your family has a chronic illness or condition, make sure you’re covered by travel insurance in case of emergencies. You can’t put a price on peace of mind—especially when you’re far from home. Many people think their regular health insurance will cover them while abroad, but that’s often not the case.

You can purchase travel insurance through your airline, travel agent, or online. This insurance typically covers medical expenses, trip cancellation or interruption, lost baggage, and more. If you’re planning on renting a car, you may also want to purchase rental car insurance for extra protection.

2. Check travel advisories and restrictions.

Before booking your tickets, check the latest travel advisories from the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC website also has a handy travel planner tool to help you prepare for your trip. Especially when traveling outside the country, it’s essential to be aware of entry requirements, such as COVID-19 testing or quarantines.

Because the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving, it’s also a good idea to sign up for travel alerts from the State Department so you can be notified of any changes in your destination’s status. You can usually get tested for COVID-19 within a few days of your trip, but it’s always best to plan ahead, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. If your kids are afraid of getting tested, you can get COVID-19 testing for kids in a pediatric clinic to make the process more comfortable for them.

3. Plan ahead.

a happy family

If you’re flying, call your airline to find any special accommodations available for passengers with medical conditions. The same goes for hotels—it never hurts to call ahead and let them know about any special needs or requests you may have. This will help ensure your trip is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Similarly, if you’re driving, ensure you have a reliable car and that your insurance is up to date. Plan your route ahead of time and consider rest stops, gas stations, and food options. And of course, don’t forget the snacks! You can’t go on a road trip without snacks.

4. Pack smart.

In addition to your regular luggage, pack any essential medications, first-aid supplies, and other items that you or your family members may need while on the road. Depending on your destination, you may also want to pack some extra clothes and shoes in inclement weather. Many people like to travel with a portable charger for their phones in case they’re stuck without a power outlet.

And don’t forget the essentials for your kids, like diapers, formula, toys, and favorite stuffed animals. If you’re traveling with young children, it’s also a good idea to bring along some activities to keep them occupied, like coloring books and small toys.

5. Stay hydrated.

This is important whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile. Dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish, so drink plenty of water during your trip. You can also stay hydrated by eating water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.

Avoid sugary drinks, alcohol, and caffeine, which can actually dehydrate you. And if you’re traveling with young children, be sure to pack enough diapers and wipes to keep them clean and dry. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help prevent jet lag, so you’ll be refreshed and ready to go when you reach your destination.

6. Take breaks often.

If you’re driving, take breaks every few hours to stretch your legs and give yourself a chance to rest. And if you’re flying, get up and walk around the cabin every so often to avoid stiffness and soreness. Not only will this help you feel better, but it will also help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can be a serious complication of long-distance travel.

As much as possible, take a break from screen time during your trip. Instead, use this time to catch up on sleep, read a book, or talk to your travel companions. And if you can, try to get some exercise during your trip, like going for a run or walk.

Many families choose to travel during the holidays to visit relatives or take a much-needed vacation. However, holiday travel can often be stressful, especially if you’re not prepared.

By following these simple tips, you can help make sure your holiday travels are as smooth as possible—for both you and your loved ones. Always remember to plan ahead, pack smart, and take breaks often. And most importantly, stay hydrated!

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