Are you planning to visit grandma’s house for the holidays? If you are, and if she doesn’t live just over the river and through the woods, you definitely should start making plans as early as possible because, as most of us know, traveling during the holidays can be expensive, tiring and stressful. The good news is that we put together a list of some great Holiday Travel Tips for you that should help you to lower both your stress and expenses. (As for the tired part, that depends on how much turkey you eat.) Enjoy.
Tip 1) Avoid “peak” travel dates at all costs.
For example, if you’re going to be visiting family on Thanksgiving you probably shouldn’t travel on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving day. If possible, leaving on the Monday before Thanksgiving is best but, if you don’t mind getting up a little early, flying out on Thanksgiving day itself is often much easier and much more affordable due to the cut-rate airfare deals that many airlines give on Thanksgiving day. Keep in mind that both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Wednesday this year, something that should make holiday traveling slightly easier.
Tip 2) Book your holiday travel and tickets as early as possible.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, airline fares go up. Unless you make your plans well enough in advance you may find that either there are no flights available or the ones that are left are ridiculously expensive. The earlier that you book the better price that you will get and also the more flexibility you will have with dates and flight times.
Tip 3) Use the Internet to Shop Around.
Unless you live in a stone hut out in the middle of nowhere, not using the Internet to search for the best fares on flights, rental cars and accommodations is a sin. There are so many travel websites that can help you these days that searching, and finding, the best prices is a breeze. There’s Travelocity, Priceline, Kayak and many others and often times the prices on all of these sites, unlike what most people think, are wildly different. Coupon Sherpa is a good source for promo codes to rental car agencies, airlines and third-party booking sites. The fact is, during the peak holiday travel season you want to cast your net as wide as possible so that you will “catch” all of the different pricing and date options available.
Tip 4) Don’t be afraid to use “alternate” airports.
Most savvy travelers know that checking alternate airports is a good idea but during the holiday travel season it can make a huge difference. Indeed, alternate airports can help you in almost every facet of your travel equation from parking to traffic, rental cars and getting to nearby hotels, helping you to save not only money but a significant amount of time.
Tip 4) Plan out your connections carefully.
If you’re going to be traveling on more than one airplane you definitely should factor in some extra time between landing and takeoff so that, if there are delays, you won’t miss any flights. If possible, take flights that will travel through areas of the country that have warmer climates and thus will have less chance of weather delays.
Tip 5) Leave earlier than usual.
Here’s a fact; Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the entire year and Christmas is in the top five. What that means is that there’s going to be more people, more traffic, more delays, longer lines and, well, more of practically everything that makes traveling a pain in the patootie. For that reason you definitely should leave your home as early as possible to add a little bit of extra “buffer” time to make up for all of these extra factors that could delay you.
Tip 6) Make sure to pack smart.
If possible, don’t take any bags that will need to be checked as this only adds to your time (and frustration) to get them from baggage claim. Also make sure that if you’re carrying any gels or liquids they fit the standard 3.4 ounce container rule or you’re going to be very sad when you have to leave them behind.
Traveling to see family during the holidays is definitely one of the good things in life but comes with a good bit of extra stress and expense. Hopefully these 6 Tips that we’ve given you will help to lower that stress and lower your cost as well. Safe travels and Happy Holidays.