The holiday season is just around the corner! Undoubtedly, this is one of the most magical times of the year, but it is also the busiest travel period. About 47% of Americans intend to travel for the holidays in 2022, according to PwC’s annual Holiday Outlook. Even with the high cost of travel and financial considerations, many travelers look forward to returning to the road and taking a break before the year is out.
Traveling during the holiday season can be a wonderful experience. The end of the year typically means going to see family and friends or going on a memorable vacation. So do millions of others, which can make traveling via air, train, or road a stressful experience.
But don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with some holiday travel tips, so you’ll arrive at your destination smiling and fully prepared to celebrate! Here are the seven smart travel tips for a stress-free holiday season:
Avoid Price Increases by Booking Early
Those who wait until the very last minute to make a reservation may find last-minute deals on hotels and rental cars. However, it is risky to proceed in this manner because flights or cars may no longer be available when you begin your search.
Hopper, a travel app, reports that domestic airfares are higher than they have been over the past five years during the week of Christmas. From the beginning of November until Thanksgiving, it predicts a $10 daily increase in flight prices. Generally, flights are cheaper when purchased by Oct. 20, but travelers should book at least two months in advance to lock in the best deal.
The same applies to resorts and hotels as well. Several of these resorts and hotels provide discounts on activities that can be enjoyed during your stay if you book within a specified period of time. For instance, some offer multiple bundled packages, which include accommodations and different resort activities. By purchasing one of these packages, you will have access to a variety of recreational activities and accommodations at a reasonable price during your holiday vacation.
Don’t Travel On Peak Travel Dates
As a general rule, Wednesday is considered to be the most problematic “avoid” day for outbound travel during Thanksgiving. Traveling on Thanksgiving Day is often more convenient and economical, and if you can depart on any other day than Sunday, you will likely incur lower costs. As per CheapAir.com, flights are typically most affordable between four months and three weeks prior to departure. Rates increase after that time frame.
The peak travel dates around Christmas and New Year’s change yearly, depending on which days fall on those holidays. In general, it is possible to predict the most expensive travel dates. Consider long weekends that will allow you to maximize your vacation without taking too many days off from work—that is the time of year when most people will want to travel.
Be Prepared For Extra Travel Time
Travel during the holiday season can be unpredictable. Plan ahead for delayed arrivals, road closures, adverse weather conditions, or any other unforeseen circumstances. Arriving at the airport early is advisable to avoid any miscommunication or inconvenience.
During busy times at airports, security lines can be quite long. You can avoid any delays caused by long lines if you arrive early. If you intend to take a road trip, be sure to check weather forecasts and traffic conditions well in advance.
Make a Backup Plan
As Murphy’s Law states, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. For this reason, it is a good idea to ensure you have backups of your backups. A good place to begin is by purchasing travel insurance. You can buy travel insurance through your airline or from a variety of providers. Choose the plan that fits your needs by reviewing all the options—such as flight cancelation policies and lost luggage. You can also ask your credit card provider if this is already included in your purchase.
Next, you should consider alternative travel routes. Canceled flight? Check out bus and train routes, or have another plan B prepared (such as a staycation) so you don’t feel left out.
Many travelers (if not all) struggle with packing. Be sure to check your destination’s weather forecast and pack clothing appropriate to the weather conditions. Travelers tend to overpack. Although it is generally a good idea to be prepared, keeping your luggage light will be more beneficial in the long run.
A carry-on bag is the most convenient and safest way to reduce the time you spend waiting in long lines at luggage checkpoints and ensure that all your possessions are with you during your flight.
Always Be Prepared
There are several things to consider when planning your trip. These include downloading travel apps, gathering entertainment options, understanding TSA regulations, booking reservations, planning routes, and getting a car inspection. You should carry backup chargers for electronics, copies of travel documents, and prescriptions in their original bottles.
If you are prepared to handle unexpected circumstances, you will be in a better position to cope with them.
Keep Calm and Be Patient
It is a given that holiday travel rarely goes smoothly, so flexibility and patience are essential when traveling during the holiday season.
Make sure you practice breathing techniques and have entertainment options, food, and other necessities at hand. If things do not go according to plan, remaining calm and polite helps ensure that everyone’s sanity is preserved.
You are likely to encounter 90 percent of people on your journey who are equally frazzled as you are because of the crowds, harsh weather, and the stress of the holidays. Keep a positive attitude and try your best to make the most of this experience.
There you have it; these are some of our top travel tips to keep in mind during the holiday season. Although it may seem like a very challenging and stressful undertaking, it does not have to be. Aside from being well-prepared in terms of your documents, you should also be mentally prepared for the experience.
As a general rule, we recommend planning ahead and leaving plenty of time for any inconveniences or delays. A last-minute decision to travel can cause chaos. However, the process will be much more manageable if you plan in advance.