We are right in the middle of the busiest holiday season of the year. I love this time of year and I have fond memories of visiting family on the holidays when I was growing up. Getting to take a break and travel was always one of my favorite parts of the holidays as a kid.
Now that I'm an adult, I recognize that traveling over the holidays (especially if flying is involved) can be a major headache. If we're properly prepared for our holiday travels, there's no reason we can't all head home after celebrating with peace of mind!
If you're flying this Christmas and you're not Santa Claus, sitting comfy in your sleigh, I've got three tips to help you brave the skies with fewer headaches.
- Avoid peak travel dates. On each holiday, there is a critical outbound "avoid" day that you should always be aware of. For example, for Thanksgiving, the Wednesday before is always the worst. It's better to travel on Thanksgiving Day itself, snagging better airfare deals and avoiding some of the crowds. This year, Christmas Day and New Year's Day both fall on Tuesday; so many people will probably choose to travel the weekend before Christmas. Take an extra day off work and leave early, saving you time spent in lines and possibly getting a better rate.
- Shop around. Whether you're using booking sites like Travelocity, bid or auction sites such as Priceline, or another alternative, comparison shopping is the way to go. During peak travel season, cast the net as wide as possible so you can ensure you get the best option. If you're anything like me, price may not be the most important factor. Travel time can sway my choice if the price break isn't a big one. Pay attention to travel time (i.e. arrival and departure), as well as price.
- Leave early. During peak travel times, much of the trouble you'll face lies on this side of the security check-in, from traffic jams and full parking lots to absent shuttles and long lines. By making sure that you've left for the airport in time, you'll give yourself enough time to allow for unforeseen issues that might pop up. Check with the airport, most of the time they can give you a good idea of how early you need to arrive.
I hope that you are already busy planning for the Christmas holiday and making all necessary travel arrangements. Happy and safe travels to you and your family this season.