Skip to main content
Christmas lights

Holiday travel tips from industry experts

Story by
postedNovember 25, 2019

Snarly traffic, surly crowds, and crazy kinfolk can make the holiday season stressful. But NTA members are travel pros, so they must have the inside track on holiday travel, right? went to some of experts to gather their wisdom on this topic. We asked this question:

With your insider knowledge, what tactics or tricks do you use to navigate travel during December?

Because I travel so much during the year for work, I do everything I can to not have to travel during the holidays. I love being home, and I so so appreciate having some downtime to spend with family, catch up with friends, and ski with my amazing 80-pound four-legged Alaska lab husky “kid.”

Heather Dudick, Alaska Railroad Corporation

For me, Thanksgiving is a bonus holiday. Even though everything is heavily booked, getting away on Wednesday night and taking off on Friday makes a great mini-vacation, but try to go somewhere that is out of season, e.g, Scotland, Ireland, France, etc.

Investigate restaurants and menus for holidays and make reservations for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve lunch and dinner. Keep in mind, though, that many restaurants close on holidays. You don’t want to end up eating Peking duck like the family in “A Christmas Story.”

Traveling on Christmas Day is always a pleasure. You can celebrate on Christmas Eve and travel on the holiday—or return on New Year’s Eve. And try to schedule nonstops only.

John McGlade, CroisiEurope America

For holiday visits to family members who live out of town, I always like to travel in early December. You skip the headaches of long lines and expensive airfares, and then you get to be back home for the actual holiday after spending some quality time with family that lives further away.

Bob Schwartz, Boston Duck Tours

It’s all about attitude. Lines are going to be long, people are going to be impatient, tickets are going to be expensive, and luggage is going to be heavy. Expectations are always high, and anxiety is always present.

However, if you have a positive attitude and deal with everything in stride and with a smile, it gets you through the rough patches. Don’t have expectations and you won’t be disappointed, plus you know what you are in for. So you have a choice: You can be miserable or you can accept the experience and make the best of it.

I take my kids to Jordan every Christmas. It isn’t easy because as soon as my family in Jordan hears that we have booked travel, Amazon packages begin to arrive by the dozen for us to take to Jordan. We spread the boxes among all our luggage, and we go knowing it’s going to be a fantastic holiday with family and loved ones … even though the plane seats are tight and the jet lag is not fun.

Malia Asfour, Jordan Tourism Board North America

As we all know, holiday travel can be filled with crowds and long lines. While I typically try to avoid that, I still like to travel and strategically look to book during the times when the holiday hustle has slowed—usually early December or early January is best for this.

Bob Salmon, American Queen Steamboat Company

I personally embrace holiday travel—like a reunion moving with the crowd. My secrets to success are no time limits, go with the flow, and let the wine flow. Cheers!

Julia Luckey-Ottenwess, The Grand Hotel

One of my annual business goals is to visit my top 10 or 20 operators during the holiday season and drop off gifts in appreciation for their partnership and support. In the past, I have scheduled this for the month of December, but this year I decided to avoid adding to the “December crazies” by planning my visits during November. Adding tour operators to my itinerary that are not on the top of the list (and, of course, bearing gifts to them as well) makes for a robust and successful sales mission.

Simi Telesco, Sight & Sound Theatres 

Top photo by CC Flickr/Giuseppe Milo/