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Holidays travel can be one of the toughest things to endure during the season (especially if you are toting along small kids!). Not only are there more people on the road, in the air, and in restaurants around the world, but prices also tend to rise during the holidays. Although some people make holiday travel look easy, arriving refreshed and cool without losing, breaking or forgetting anything, there are others who require some help and this is where our tried and tested holiday travel tips and hacks come in handy.
Holiday Air Travel Tips and Tricks
Here are some of the best holiday tips and hacks to make your travel easier this holiday.
1. Don’t Travel on Peak Days
There’s no getting around it. Peak travel days are the worst! You’ve heard it before, but it remains true that traveling the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after — whether by air, rail or road — greatly increases your chance of travel woes. Consider adjusting your dates by even a day. Same goes for Christmas time and New Years.
Fly on the actual holiday
If you are willing to travel on an actual day then you can actually save a lot of money. Since most travelers want to be at their destination earlier, tickets flying out on the holiday day are usually much more affordable. As a matter of fact, some companies often include holiday perks such as holiday-themed meals and special snacks during this time.
2. Sign up for price alerts
Over the years price alerts have saved travelers a lot of money. If you can take just a few minutes to set up a price alert you can end up saving yourself a lot of money and also time. The good thing is that there are several sites that you can use to set up price alerts.
You can even get alerts for any price changes that occur. That way in case your hotel or flight price drops you’ll receive an alert right away. This is a fantastic way to save a few bucks- but you have to be prepared to act fast once you get the alert- if you wait too long they are usually gone.
3. For the best deals buy tickets on Sundays
Holiday air can really leave a hole in your wallet especially if you wait to buy your travel tickets closer to the holidays. According to a recent study, buying your fare on Sundays is usually even $71 dollars cheaper- hey $70 bucks is still 70 bucks right!!!
4. Take advantage of cancellation policies
Although you rarely see this tip anywhere, it can significantly help save you a lot of money. If you want to get the best price then there really is no getting around booking in advance. Be sure to purchase tickets for your flight or hotel that have a very clear no cost cancellation policy- this will always be in teeny letters somewhere but its important.
Many travel tickets can be returned for full value before a certain time frame (some a few weeks/months before the trip- others a few days!). This has saved me thousands over the years. Once you’ve done this make sure you mark the last day you can cancel on your calendar and then set a reminder within a day or two. This means that if you find a better deal or if your plans change you’ll have grabbed the best discount.
This also goes for travel insurance- if its a very expensive trip like a cruise that you have book a year in advance for- get the travel insurance so you can cancel the trip without worrying about losing all that money.
5. Be flexible always
One of the hardest things is being flexible during the holidays. However, in case you can use an alternative to flying or an alternative airport then give it a try. Sometimes its easier to drive to a larger airport and spend less on the ticket then to fly out of a small airport and spend big.
Also- think buses, trains, or even carpooling! This could help you save a lot of money in the long run. The hardest part is the prep, but if you plan right, the adventure can be just as much fun as the destination!
Holiday Travel Packing and Prep Tips
Yes, we all know (and probably have experienced it before) but traveling during the Holidays can be a total nightmare. Planes, trains and roads will be crowded, that’s just a given. And there’s always the chance that mother nature could through a few challenges your way. But life… and travel is what you make of it sometimes. If you are prepared enough or have the ability to just go with the flow, you will find yourself much less stressed this season. Below are our top 10 tips for headache-free traveling during this busy season.
1. Keep Your Luggage Smelling Fresh with Essential OIL Balls
Clothes and other types of fabrics don’t tend to smell well after staying inside the suitcase for many hours or days. So to prevent that stinky airplane smell and damp feeling when you arrive, toss in some cotton balls with a few drops of your favorite essential oil with your clothing items to ensure that they smell fresh upon arrival.
2. Envelope Bubble wrap your laptop
If the airline you are using won’t allow carry on anymore (Yes- can you believe this is a thing!?!) and you MUST pack really important items in your luggage, then bubble wrap is your best friend. For your laptop- you can either use bubble wrap or one of those big bubble envelopes to put your laptop into and then place in the middle of your suitcase.
The good thing is that many of these envelopes are not only large enough but also waterproof. By doing this, you’ll also make your gadget less steal-able should your suitcase become open for any reason. If you have any other fragile items- bubble wrap or envelops and this will ensure they make the journey safe and sound.
*Note: Do not rely on your packed clothes to protect your fragile items- many airports or going through customs etc. will often open suitcases for random checks and do not put the items back as they where- sadly I learned this the hard way!
3. Make sure you pack a pen
This is perhaps one of the simplest travel hacks that you need but one of the most useful I find. There is nothing more frustrating than needing to fill out a form or jot down a phone number or an address only to realize that you don’t have a pen. This can be very frustrating especially if you don’t speak the local language. Just ensure you travel with a pen and you’ll feel much more in control while traveling.
4. Reserve Airport Parking
Airport parking often fills up during the holidays. But many lots allow you to pre-book, sparing yourself a mad scramble to stash the car before your flight takes off.
Some places you can actually reserve a valet!! Ok- while this is not the very cheapest option but OMG was it awesome. We pulled up to the drop off area, the valet met us right outside. He helped us take our luggage out and we were on our way. The valet (we used Valeet) then took the car and parked it.
We got an extra service of a car wash – which they did before we returned. Upon return- they met us outside the pick up and we were on our way. It was very simple and very reasonable. We were happy and made the trip to New Orleans French Quarter that much easier on us. A little pre-planning goes a long way!
5. Be ready for delay
Since the holidays often bring busier airports and poor winter weather, delays are likely to be common during this time. This means you are likely to have a delayed flight or an extended wait at your gate.
To prepare yourself for this, you might decide to have a movie on your laptop or phone or even bring extra reading material or printable games for the kids to occupy their time.
You might also consider buying interruption insurance and trip cancellation that covers for any cancellations or itinerary changes.
If you go with the flow and stay prepared it all seems to go smoother. My father would always say: “When you’re not prepared is when Sh*t falls apart.” It also causes the most amount of stress and again, during the Holiday season you want to enjoy yourself so try to relax and make the most of it.
6. Bring Provisions
Whether you are traveling alone or not, I always suggest you take snacks, games, books, magazines, portable music, ipads and other diversions to pass the time if your flight is delayed or you’re stuck in traffic. On the plane its good to have an eye mask (for long flights), cold meds and allergy meds should anything arise, hand sanitizer, chap stick, lotion and a light blanket or jacket in case it gets cold. Did I say take snacks?? Ha. This is vital, of course, if you’re traveling with kids or cranky grown up that can be soothed with grandmas famous chocolate chip cookies 😉
7. Mark your travel bag as fragile
By marking your suitcase as fragile, you’ll not only have peace of mind knowing that your luggage will be handled with the care that it deserves, but it will also be put on top of the pile in the storage compartment on the plane. This means that it will be the first to come out on the carousel when the plane touches down.
8. No Plugs Available? use airport TVs to charge your phone
When you travel often you quickly realize that everyone seems to be desperately be looking for charging stations regardless if their phone is at 89% or 5%. Its like a weird airport behavior or something! If you are actually in desperate need of a charge and all the actual charge stations are full- check the airport TVs! Often times they have a usb port that you can plug into.
I also suggest bringing charged battery packs with you if you are flying a long distance or even international where their plugs are unique. This can give you anywhere from an extra hour to an extra 5 hours depending on the type.
9. just roll up your clothes instead of folding them
Simply folding your clothes in your luggage can take up a lot of space that could be used for other needed items. By rolling up your clothing items you can make the maximum use of the space. This is great if you are bringing presents with you, packing your laptop, have bulky shoes or equipment. heck out video below for tips:
10. Do not wrap gifts before you fly
Although wrapping gifts before you fly may sound like a great way to save time, in most instances, you’ll be asked by the airport security to unwrap them so that they can see what inside. This means that you may have to wrap them twice.
Also, most gifts get little rips and tears while in transit. So, instead of wrapping your gifts before you fly, bring tape and wrapping paper with you for this reason. You may also buy gift bags since you can easily pop the gifts into the bags and head to where you are going. Even better, if you have time consider buying and shipping the presents to your destination. Just ensure that you tell your recipient not to open them until you arrive.
If traveling with presents seems a bit stressful, think about some unique gift ideas you can offer. Perhaps you can purchase something that you can do together. For instance, if your favorite aunt is a foodie just treat her to a special lunch instead of bringing her present. How about going skydiving with your favorite pal, or adventuring to wine country for a day. So many things to explore and so much excitement to be had. By doing this you’ll be giving him or her memories for years to come rather than some material object.
These are some of our top holiday travel tips and hacks no matter where in the world you want to go to. Make an effort to master these hacks so that you can enjoy a smooth trip during this holiday travel season.