9 Travel Tips That Will Save Your Holiday Season
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it through the middle of another work week. Hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. I know many of you are starting to travel to wherever you are going for the Christmas holidays.
Hitting the road, heading to the airport, or even booking a trip during this time of year can be a headache—but it doesn't have to be.
Why does every holiday season feel like a montage of scenes from Home Alone? Family members running around frantically, eating your pizza, oversleeping, and sprinting to a flight: It's enough to make you want to skip the holiday altogether. Arm yourself against the mania this year with these nine tested travel hacks.
Be bold—fly on Christmas Day. Christmas Day is, indeed, one of the most popular holidays, which makes it one of the least popular days to travel—and airlines know it. If you're willing to fly on December 25, you'll find significantly cheaper fares. If you don't feel like opening gifts in the air, keep in mind that heading out December 26 and returning January 3 are the most popular travel days; consider leaving December 27 and returning January 2. Even this slight tweak will make hotels and flights cheaper.
Get sneaky. Online travel sites like Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz may not have the same listings as airlines, and vice versa. Do your part by searching both, signing up for fare alerts, and following sites like Travelzoo and Airfarewatchdog on social media. If you're feeling sneaky, try hidden-city airfare sites like Skiplagged, which can save travelers money by booking their final destination as a layover. While it's not illegal, there can be drawbacks—airlines see it as exploitation, and may restrict your future travel if you're caught repeatedly using this strategy.
Delete, delete, delete. It's happened to the best of us: We see a cheap flight, promise to come back later, and when we do, the price has skyrocketed. It's typically because airlines and travel websites track your visits to the site through cookies and cache information, and hold your searches against you. Clear both, and you're more likely than not to see lower prices; this will make it appear like you're a first-time visitor to the site.
UP IN THE AIR
Follow gift guidance. Mike McCarthy, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, says that travelers can bring wrapped gifts in their luggage, but that pretty paper may have to come off if the gift looks like it's been tampered with or poses a security threat. His suggestion? Consider using a gift bag instead of traditional wrapping paper so that you're able to take items in and out with ease. If you're a planner, you can always ship gifts to where you'll be celebrating, so you don't lose precious luggage space.
Use tech to get ahead. Not only can you tweet the TSA and ask if you're allowed to bring that pie onboard, but contacting airlines through their social media channels has proven remarkably effective in the past. Waiting in line? Fire off a tweet, or hop on the phone with a customer service representative from the airline. They're looking at the same database as the staffers behind the counter, and will probably be able to move much quicker. Pro move: Have all of these numbers entered into your phone before you head to the airport, so you'll be able to pull them up if necessary.
Pack like you know what you're doing. This goes for carry-ons and checked luggage. Should you be forced to check a bag unexpectedly or—knock on wood—the airline lose your suitcase, you'll want to have valuables and fragile and crucial items with you. Have your items separated before you get to security, and if you find yourself in an interminable queue, empty your pockets before you're asked to do so. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off (we recommend the Chelsea boot), and don't pack wine in your carry-on unless you want to throw it out. Worried about wrinkles? Fold your clothes using tissue paper. Worried about saving space? Roll your clothes.
Just leave early. Seriously. With holiday travel, the early bird doesn't just get the worm—it gets to savor it. And while none of us wants to spend any more time at the airport than we have to, adding 45 extra minutes on top of your usual pre-flight timing will give you the flexibility to get through security, and adapt to any delays or changes, without feeling rushed. (It'll also help you feel sane when faced with slow-moving families making their once-a-year trip.) Apps like GateGuru can also come in handy by giving you real-time updates on security wait times, flight delays, and gate changes.
HITTING THE ROAD
Avoid traffic jams. This year, Wednesday, December 23 is anticipated to be the busiest on the road. If you absolutely cannot leave any other day, leave early and plan ahead: The busiest window will be 3–6 p.m. As far as returning goes, heading back Monday, December 28 after noon.
Beat the weather. Being prepared goes a long way. And with inclement weather striking anywhere and anytime, it's best to manage what you can control. A day or so before you're slated to leave, check the tire pressure, oil, washer fluid, windshield wipers and all of the lights in your car. Pack an emergency kit, or update the one you have: bottled water, non-perishable snacks, jumper cables, and warm blankets are just a few of the items you should have.
Wishing you safe travels and a beary safe and great Wednesday!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,