As holidays draw near, travel plans are kicking into high gear. Some will use the holidays as a time to take a family vacation. Others will be visiting family and friends for Thanksgiving. Many people may be the ones playing hosts to those family and friends. Regardless of why you are traveling, holiday travel tips can save you stress and worry.
Whether you are traveling by plane, train, car, or are staying home, here are some essential time and money-saving tips for your holiday travel.
And don’t miss holiday travel tips for traveling with kids – these are tips FOR THE KIDS!
12 holiday travel tips for stress free travel
1. Non-stop flights vs layovers - Which do you choose? Non-stop flights are more expensive. However, layovers can lead to more delays. Is it worth it to pay a little more and worry less about connections? It is definitely something to consider when airports are busy, the number of flights is down, capacity and overbooking are up, and weather is a factor.
2. Getting a refund if you find a lower-priced fare - Southwest is willing to offer you a re-price of the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket. JetBlue may offer certain refunds for refundable fares and subject to terms and conditions. With Priceline, you can get the difference if you find a lower price for the same flight within 24 hours of booking. While most airlines won’t refund you the difference, check your airline’s policies or the policies of the agent or site where you purchased your flight.
3. Flight changes – If your travel plans change, be aware that most airlines will charge you a fee to change your flight. However, if your flight is changed as a result of the airlines’ schedule change, you may be able to get a different flight for the same day with no fee at all.
If you choose to make a change, it will cost you. Most airlines charge around $100. Cancellations may lead to airline credit on airlines like Southwest and JetBlue. Others may charge a fee and may give you credit as well.
4. Flight cancellations and delays - With travel delays and cancellations, your rights, wait times, re-booking, and possible compensation vary by airline. While there is no universal passenger bill of rights, most airlines have their own policies regarding this. Rather than detail each airline’s policy for delays, failure to transport, or compensation, here is the link to each of the major airlines’ contract of carriage – JetBlue, Southwest, Delta, American, United, US Airways, Continental, Alaska Airlines.
Fees - These days, it is impossible to escape fees. Remember that flying on certain peak travel days will result in higher fees. If you are traveling overseas, you will pay for a 2nd checked bag. The best holiday travel tips for saving money? Don’t check your bags.
When to fly - flying earlier in the morning gives you a better chance of reaching your destination if there are delays. However, early flights are more likely to be delayed by weather. For the best of both worlds, fly mid morning.
Weather - Avoid cold weather cities if possible. Cities like Denver, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, New York, and Boston are all crowded and subject to weather delays. If you can, fly through warmer weather cities.
Check in early - With the number of flights down, airlines are overbooking during peak travel times. To avoid getting bumped, check in early. Usually, the last ones checking in are the first ones bumped. With weather, overbooked flights, and busy airports, getting bumped could mean a few hours or a few days delay.
1. Get your car checked - check your tires, oil, and fluids before hitting the road. Getting stranded on the road while traveling can be cold, dangerous, and unnecessary.
2. Be prepared – Bring extra blankets, an emergency kit, food, and contact numbers (like AAA) in case of emergency. Winter travel can be deadly if not prepared.
3. Busy roads - slow down, take your time, plan your route, pay attention, and be patient. Travel during the holidays can be stressful and busy so stay safe.
Take care of your home – many burglars are well aware that people are gone for the holidays. Have your neighbors pick up your mail or put it on hold. Set a timer for your lights so it looks like someone is home. And have a neighbor keep an eye on things in case something suspicious goes on.
Holidays are a busy and hectic time of year. Do your best to be prepared, plan ahead, save time and money where you can, and be patient. Hopefully, these holiday travel tips will makes things a little less stressful.
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Las Vegas airport (Flickr)