Traveling during the holidays can be incredibly stressful. Insane airports, excited and tired kids (who may or may not belong to you) more luggage than normal, and less skilled travelers create the perfect combination for a chaotic and frustrating trip. That is, unless you use our recipe for better travel and our brilliant holiday travel tips!
Holiday Travel Tip #1 – Book your Flight Early
Generally speaking, although not always, the farther out you book your flight the cheaper it will be. An airfare study conducted by CheapAir.com suggests that up to 70 Days in advance can result in the cheapest flights.
During the holidays, booking at least 4 weeks in advance should be the minimum. Anything inside of that and you run the risk of paying too much. If you are flexible on your destination, you can book super last minute flights (like 2 or 3 days before you travel) and possibly find a seat or two that didn’t get sold and the airline is offering a great deal on. Risky though.
Holiday Travel Tip #2 – Travel on the Right Days
The actual days you travel to/from your destination play a large role in the cost and ease with which you travel. This Christmas, CheapAir.com recommends leaving on Dec 18th and returning on Dec 28th.
If it’s difficult schedule-wise for you to travel on those days, consider at least avoiding the worst days to travel. Those are, of course, the day before American Thanksgiving and Christmas Day itself. Black Friday, on the other hand is a pretty light day to travel (everyone is out shopping) and Christmas Eve is sometimes not so bad.
Holiday Travel Tip #3 – Use Those Points You’ve Been Saving Up
If you are a regular traveler (aka a Business Traveler), you likely have a ton of points saved up. Hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton have great loyalty programs and by staying with them you can rack up loyalty points which you can redeem for free flights and hotel stays. The holidays are a great time to use them!
Holiday Travel Tip #4 – Mail your Packages Ahead of Time
During Christmas we often travel to see family. And we come bearing gifts. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen folks during the holidays lugging their gifts through checkpoints, only to have them opened by TSA, or break in transit, or not be allowed to be carried on, etc. Skip all of that nonsense.
Mail your packages ahead of time. If you have a few stocking stuffers, ok, bring them (check TSA’s guidelines!). But the rest, just ship ’em. I often shop online to have my gifts shipped directly to my recipients (and have them gift wrapped!).
Holiday Travel Tip #5 – Always Pack Light
The golden rule of traveling is to always pack light. People tend to think they need more than they really do when they travel and at no time is this more apparent than during the holidays. Trust me, you don’t need as much as you think you do. Wear your winter coat on the plane (and then store it in the overhead bin), learn how to pack more efficiently, and so on. Packing light will help you avoid the time and cost of checking a bag and will allow you travel more efficiently. If you are traveling with kids, they get carryon’s too, use them if you need a little extra space.
Holiday Travel Tip #6 – Get to the Airport Early
Plan on getting to the airport a little earlier. Give yourself (and your family – some of whom are likely NOT used to travel) a little more time to get through security or other aspects of travel (picking up your rental car, fighting with highway traffic on the other end etc). How early? Some of that will depend on what airport, what day you are traveling, how skilled your party is at traveling, whether they have a pre-check program etc. Our suggestion? Whatever you would normally do…add on an extra 45 minutes to an hour to it.
Holiday Travel Tip #7 – Don’t Check Your Bag!
If you were successful in packing light, as noted above, you are primed to employ the #1 Travel Hack of All Time: Never Check Your Bag. I am a firm believer in traveling light with the intent to not check my bags. This is even more crucial during the holidays. By the way, make sure you use quality luggage. I personally recommend anything from AWAY, but especially the Carry-On with the ejectable battery. AWAY is a great suitcase for both business and leisure travelers.
Holiday Travel Tip #8 – Don’t Lose Your Cool
My last ingredient to your successful holiday travels is a healthy dose of “Keep Calm and Don’t Lose Your Cool.” If you are traveling with your family, it’s likely they are not well skilled. It will add some stress. You may not be able to travel as fast and efficient as you might be accustomed to. Lines will be longer, traffic heavier, people more tired, and so on. You need to expect all of this and gird your mind with resolve on how you choose to react.
Hey, the holidays are supposed to be fun. A time for families to get together, create memories, etc. No need to make the travel part of your trip a horrible experience! I hope these holiday travel tips make your travel experience these holiday’s one to remember!
Courtesy: Homeservice Club of Canada