Ten tips to turn ‘oh no’ into ‘ho ho’

Warning: The inevitable “oh, no” is on the horizon. No matter if you plan to travel this holiday season or someone is visiting you, there will likely be a travel snag or oops somewhere along the way. Busy as we are, planning really does make a difference.

Travel on the holiday or off-peak hours for better rates and fewer crowds. Photo is AA terminal at O'Hare Airport.

Travel on the holiday or off-peak hours for better rates and fewer crowds. Photo is AA terminal at O'Hare Airport.

Here are 10 tips, five for travelers and five for hosts that you may think you know or that you think you don’t need but invariably happen and matter. They could help turn “oh, no” into “ho, ho.

If traveling

* Old-fashioned advice that is still true: You think you stopped the newspapers and mail but you should also set a light timer in a couple of rooms and ask a friend or relative to check your mailbox or stoop for other items. Thieves also enjoy holiday time.

* Tech advice that is easy to forget: Charge your phone, pad, Kindle, whatever ahead of time but be sure to pack all of the charger plugs and wires. Sometimes the plug separates in an outlet and you have a worthless wire with you. No kidding. This does happen.

* Old-fashioned advice easy to forget: Just because it is winter does not mean you don’t need sun protection in a cream screen and hat. Don’t wait until you arrive because you may be in the sun before you have time to shop. Skin cancer is on the rise.

* Tech advice that is even truer today: You just think your passwords make you secure. If you are using free wifi in airports and public cafes there maybe someone in the area who has sniffer technology that can pick up the internet traffic floating around the lounge and area. Be sure the site you are accessing begins with https which signifies it is a secure site. Don’t go to http sites in public places.

* General advice you hopefully won’t need: Give your contact information to a neighbor so that if something happens to your home or condo, you can be reached. Storms and outages happen. Of course you know that, right?

Airports have museum and other giftshops to pick up last minute presents.

Airports have museum and other giftshops to pick up last minute presents.

If hosting

* Good intentions don’t always make good hosts: Holiday goodies can be yummy but check food and other allergies before guests come. Most people are aware of peanut allergies but some people are also allergic to all tree nuts and others need gluten-free or lactose-free foods. Luckily, grocery stores now have gluten-free and lactose free shelves and packages say whether product contains nuts or was made in a place that had nuts.

* Age does make a difference: Consider the age of your guests when planning activities and outfitting your home. You may need a pet or child gate. You won’t want to leave out small candies and popcorn that can cause choking or breakable items at child level. You may not mind if guests bring their dog but did you know dogs should not have chocolate so you have to put it out of reach?

Thousands of lights outside and miniature railroads and landmarks inside turn the Chicago Botanic Garden into a holiday destination.

Thousands of lights outside and miniature railroads and landmarks inside turn the Chicago Botanic Garden into a holiday destination.

* Find out ahead of time what movies or shows your guests might like and try to get tickets before they come. Popular shows and even movie-times do sell-out so you don’t want to be disappointed.

* Plan down-time: You don’t have to be doing something out of the house all the time. You can get movies on Netflix and at the library and download e-books from the library. Put out a couple of jigsaw puzzles and a Sudoku or crossword puzzle book.

* Look for fun out-of-the-house activities: Search ahead of time for the price, times and freebies at ice rinks, museums and walking or driving holiday light shows.

For more suggestions visit “Make the airport leg more fun” and “Ten tips to a smoother trip.”

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday.

Photos copyright  Jodie Jacobs

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