Whether you’re traveling for holiday celebrations, or just considering a winter vacation during this peak travel time, careful advance planning can make a big difference in your travel experience. The volume of travelers, possible winter weather complications and other unique seasonal disruptions may make travel insurance the right holiday gift for yourself.

Here are 5 tips for researching travel insurance for a trip during the holidays:

  1. Evaluate your need. You may be surprised to hear us say this, but here goes: You might not need travel insurance. If you’re just planning to head to Grandma’s for a few days, your total non-refundable costs for your trip may be relatively negligible. Take a good look at everything you’d stand to lose if you had to cancel your plans and decide for yourself whether or not travel insurance is a good investment for this particular trip.
  2. Assess your luggage. The holidays are prime time for traveling with items you would hate to lose. Many people carry holiday gifts in their checked baggage. If you’re among them, you may want to consider buying a travel insurance plan that provides coverage for lost items. Keep as much documentation (original receipts and/or photos of the items) as possible on items you are traveling with and make sure the plan’s baggage coverage limits, both the total and the per-item maximums, match your needs. Also, keep in mind that very expensive items, such as jewelry, may be better insured through your homeowner’s insurance.
  3. Watch the weather. Snow, ice and other winter weather conditions can easily ground flights and delay, or outright derail, your plans. Even if you don’t think your home or destination are likely to get hit with a blizzard, remember that flights originate from hubs all around the world. A snowstorm in Chicago could easily cause systemic delays and cancellations in Arizona, so you may want to think about getting a travel insurance plan that provides protection against lengthy flight delays or cancellations.
  4. Consider the kids. The holiday season is also prime season for colds, viruses and all kinds of illnesses. Kids are especially prone to the sickness du jour, so if you’ve planned to travel with yours for the holidays, it might be smart to keep a travel insurance plan in your back pocket. It has been known for a sudden ear infection or stomach bug to force travelers to rearrange plans or even cancel them all together. (Please note: A licensed, qualified physician must certify that your child is too ill to travel.)
  5. Keep your options open. For some travelers, a Cancel for Any Reason coverage is the right solution during the holiday season. If you’d like some flexibility in your holiday travel plans and want to wait to decide whether you’re really taking that cruise with your brother, this type of coverage might be a wise investment. Remember that it’s a time-sensitive benefit – you’ll have to purchase it within 10-30 days of making your initial trip payment – and filing a claim under Cancel for Any Reason typically requires you to cancel your plans and notify all travel suppliers 48-72 hours prior to your scheduled departure.