Christmas, Hanukkah, and the holiday season generally is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Millions of Americans travel all over the country to spend the holidays at home or see their families and friends. However, traveling during this time does not have to be uncomfortable if you plan your trip early and make smart decisions. Take a look at some of the tips on how to avoid stress and save money traveling during this busy season.
Plan and book your trip well in advance to get a better price. It is worth it to do the research and take advantage of airline sales or special deals to get the best prices. You can sign up for travel newsletters or follow travel sites on social media. Try to avoid Christmas traveling peak days. According to SmarterTravel the days that will be the busiest change every year, however, the price on certain days can usually provide a reasonable estimate. Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year.
Expect both Saturday the 23rd and Friday the 22nd to be very busy travel days; if you can depart Thursday the 21st or even Wednesday the 20th, you might be able to save money and avoid some of the crowds. Be flexible with your travel dates and use a search engine like Orbitz or Priceline to find the best possible deals. While the window to snag a cheap flight has likely passed by now if you have not yet booked your flight, if you are traveling by bus or train, you may still be able to get a cheap ticket. Amtrak tickets are usually cheapest when leaving very late at night or early in the morning.
On your traveling day, leave more time than you would typically do. Delays are expected not only at the airports, but you might also experience some traffic jams. Traveling early or late in the day might be a good option, as those times are usually not as busy. To save some time at the airports, check-in online and print out your boarding pass at home (or use a mobile boarding pass on your smartphone) to avoid standing in long lines at the airport. Pack light if you can in order to avoid long lines to check bags. Packing light also means you don’t have to worry about everyone’s biggest traveling fear – the airlines losing your checked bag!
If you have TSA Pre Check, this is the time to use it! Ensure that your boarding pass has this information on it. Make sure all your devices are fully charged and that you have ample entertainment options, in case you have to wait for your flight a little longer or find alternatives if your flight gets cancelled. Airports, bus stops, and train stations are usually very crowded during holidays. To protect yourself and stay healthy, make sure to wash your hands properly or bring hand sanitizer. If you are planning on bringing gifts on the plane, consider the option of shipping. Shipping your gifts can be less costly than paying for additional checked bags and also makes your trip a little lighter.