11/13/2012 04:37 pm ET Updated Jan 13, 2013

Holiday Travel: Staying Smart and Stress Free With Travel Changes

The holiday season is fast approaching, and that means holiday travel. With flight delays due to inclement weather and storms, and crowded airports, it is easy for the stress to mount.

As we've seen with Hurricane Sandy, some things are out of our control. Most travel stress, however, comes from much smaller issues, and a little planning and preparation can go a long way in making the holiday travel experience much less stressful.

  1. Monitor Weather Reports: Within four days of your trip, start to monitor the Weather Channel and local weather reports from your local stations. Although they aren't always 100% accurate, they should at least give you some idea of what you can expect over the next 72 hours in your area. Also be sure to check weather reports for your destination to see if there are any issues on their end as well.
  2. Check Airline Site: If a hurricane, tropical storm, blizzard or any type of inclement weather seems to be of concern, monitor your airline's website for alerts and advisories. It is best to do this again, starting four days out from your trip. They will alert you to whether or not there is a chance of your flight getting cancelled. For instance, if you are scheduled to fly November 20th, and your airline has a travel advisory for that date stipulating a relaxed change-fee policy, this is a heads up that there is a strong chance they'll be cancelling your flight. If this is the case, call the airline and make arrangements to change the flight to the days that they suggest for alternate travel. In re-booking your flight, minimize connections as much as possible, as the more connections you have, the more likely you'll run into problems.
  3. Call Your Hotel: If your flight changes to a different day, call your hotel and alert them of the change. Usually, hotels will not charge you a fee for weather related emergencies that result in a change to your reservation, as long as you call ahead and alert them of the situation.
  4. Call about the Rental Car: Most car reservations aren't prepaid, so make sure to call the car rental company and revise your reservation to reflect your new travel plans. If it is prepaid, however, weather should exempt you from any change fees, and you should receive a revised rate based on your new length of rental.
  5. Within 24 Hours of Trip: Continue to monitor your flight status online to see if there is any change to your reservation. If there are delays, make sure to plan for any connections that may be missed.
  6. Monitor While Away: When we arrive at out destination, it is easy to forget about what is happening at home. Within three days of your return trip, make sure you monitor the weather and the status of your flight so you don't have any rude awakenings on the day of your trip.

What do you do to deal with holiday travel changes?