I am sure I am not alone when I say I really hate traveling during the holiday season. But I do love the end result of being around my family and friends who I see quite infrequently due to the distance between us. As such, I have gotten to the point where I am pretty good at planning my holiday travel plans in such a way that causes me the least amount of headaches.
I am able to accomplish this less worry holiday travel by always following a few steps. I first plan way ahead. My partner gets annoyed with me but in August I begin discussing plane fares and the optimal times to travel. I also keep an eye on blogs, newsletters, and other sources to see what deals might be out there. Lastly, I am always willing to use any transportation source to execute the travel.
When planning your trip, it is important to plan ahead. This includes not only looking at airline sites but also ensuring you are aware of the trends airlines use. For instance, usually around the 3rd or 4th week of October airline, bus, and train fares will begin to increase. This is because they realize that you will make the reservations regardless of the cost at that point.
To foil the transportation “machine,” as I sometimes call it, you must employ several tactics to beat them. Because honestly it’s us versus them during the holiday season.
- You must use flexible travel dates. This is one of the easiest ways to find the most economical flight or train ride to your destination.
- Choose off peak Travel Days. I often travel back the Saturday after Thanksgiving versus the Sunday, because it is far less common, cheaper, and often less stressful.
- Forget about nonstop flights. While it is nice to have nonstop flights, it is much easier to catch a good deal on on flights with layovers.
- Bookmark every travel site. Travel sites really do often have far better deals than the actual airline or train site. This is because they often get package deals.
- Don’t be afraid to buy one way tickets. It has historically been excessively expensive to fly to my hometown Memphis. I have found that buying one way tickets usually saves me a decent amount of money.
- Travel early. I am definitely not a morning person, but I am always willing to depart early during the holidays. The early morning departures are generally open and far cheaper than their later counterparts.
- Check flights for cities near your destination. I have found that it is often cheaper to fly into some smaller cities around my destination, and then I ask a family member to pick me up. It saves you money and you get a mini road trip.
In addition to finding the most economical means for your trip, it is important to plan out certain aspects of the trip. These are:
- Pack as efficiently as possible. If you are taking gifts, ship them versus packing them. Also, try to keep everything you are taking to 1 carry on suitcase and a small bag. It is imperative that you travel light to make the trip much easier.
- Pack snacks. I am someone who has to have snacks with me. I have also found during the holidays that there is often a higher chance for delays, resulting in a much longer time between meals. The snacks keep me happy, energetic, and in the zone to ensure I know what is happening.
- Charge your various devices. I see it in the airport all the time, where someone is trying to communicate after landing and their phone is dead. It definitely is no fun to be incommunicado when attempting to secure a ride to your destination.
- Hydrate. I recently read an article that expressed how a lot of illnesses people get while traveling are a direct result from not adequately hydrating. Don’t let that be you because there is nothing worse than being under the weather during the holidays.
There are a huge number of websites out there to help you find deals on travel. These are my favorite.
Although it is normal to travel via flight, I highly encourage you to look at alternative options. I am a fan of both travel by bus or car in addition to flights.