CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

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It's no secret that vacation travel can be stressful. Especially when the hustle and bustle of winter vacation travel starts, people become more distressed, with long waits and unexpected challenges. If you travel by air or car during the cold season, you can count on more delays than you'd experience in the summer. Once bad weather appears during the peak times for air travel, we end up with the lengthiest flight delays, and the most cancellations and missed connections of the year.

On the other hand, road travel has its share of annoyances and risks. There may be road closings, slower speeds due to snow or sleet, traffic accidents, and other obstacles to throw you off track. However, don't let the winter and vacation travel season make you blue. Below are some travel tips to make life easier as you journey to and from your destination.

Travel Tips

If you're traveling a great distance over the holidays, the last thing you need is a stressful airport experience to start your vacation on the wrong foot. Consider the following airline travel tips that can help to alleviate your worries.

Plan ahead for your own sanityWaiting to the last minute always leaves a great deal of your trip up to happenstance. Of all of the top winter travel tips you may find, this is the one piece of advice that will be well worth spending the extra time and effort to incorporate. Contact your travel agent to book your vacation in advance, as soon as you can manage. Then, you'll be able to avoid peak travel dates, get lower airfares, fly direct (or minimize your connections) and fly early or late in the day to avoid the bigger crowds.

Leave at least an extra hour earlier – As you prepare for your winter vacation give yourself more time than usual in order to anticipate any delays that may occur. Remember to bring some reading material for while you wait in the security line or at your departure gate. In cities with snow or ice, arrival delays can exceed two to three hours, and de-icing procedures can take up to an hour before takeoff.

Pack as light as possible for your holiday travel– Since more airlines are getting stricter on baggage limits and weight allowances, packing less and taking lighter suitcases could save you money and time. If you're planning to travel with your family and friends, consider shopping online and having your gifts shipped to your destination. This strategy will help cut down on luggage and will minimize the risk of losing any special gifts.

Steer clear of influenza– Winter travel can expose you to others suffering with colds or the flu. Catching either will add a miserable element to your winter or holiday travel. Before you leave, visit your doctor's office to get the flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine, which is only available for those aged 5-49. Most germs are spread by contact, so wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer frequently.

Stretch yourlegs often – If you find yourself in cramped quarters or passing time on long flights, there's the possibility you could develop Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), which leads to blood clotting in your legs. So, remember this essential airline travel tip on yournext flight – get up and walk around and stretch your arms and legs once every hour.

Winter Driving Tips

For road travelers, winter is the most dangerous time of year.
The following winter driving tips will help you stay safe and a little less anxious onyour next trip.

Have your car examined before you leave– This is one of the most crucial winter driving tips. The last thing you want to worry about is your car falling apart, leaving you stranded far away from home. Take your vehicle to your local autoshop for a quick once over, and make sure your tires are winter ready and are properly inflated.

Stay hydrated for the journey– It probably seems like dehydration isn't very likely during the winter, but a recent Mayo Clinic study shows that a mere one to two-percent loss of body weight can quickly lead to fatigue and decreased alertness, which could be deadly during icy winter driving. Also, your body requires more fuel in the cold – so rely on high-energy food including sandwiches, a thermos of hot soup, nuts, and fruit.

Pack a winter safety kit for the car – Don't leave without the essentials for a safe road trip – a cell phone (don't forget the car charger), ice scraper, tow rope and jumper cables, sand or kitty litter to aid with traction, blankets,flashlights, matches and emergency candles, first aid kit, portable radio, and a good book, in case you do get stuck.

Make frequent rest stops– Winter driving is much more fatiguing than driving in the summer, so you'll want to make time to stop and stretch your legs. Just a few minutes off the road will make all the difference in improving your alertness when you're back behind the wheel.

The most important take home message for winter travel will stand you in good stead for many life situations: be prepared, and plan ahead. Take into account what potential hazards may be ahead, and have a plan and the proper provisions in case faced with challenges or emergencies. And remember to say a heartfelt tefillat haderechbefore you begin your vacation adventure.