Holiday travel can evoke warm thoughts of home or excitement about a new destination, but in many cases it also conjures up a good headache. Ahead, we’ve got tips for how to plan your trip for minimum cost and maximum ease.
How to save on travel costs
Getting your tickets for holiday travel as soon as possible will save you money and give you more flight options. Booking early also means a better selection of airline seats—especially important when traveling with your family. That said, take the time to shop around for the best fares.
Thanks to the Web’s expertise at comparison shopping, you can use travel sites like Kayak that check prices across all airlines at once. You can even set up email alerts for discounted fares at the date and time you want. After a few days or a week of research, you’ll know a good deal when you see it.
No matter how you search for them, reasonable seats, rooms and rental cars go first; last-minute holiday travel often means being left with less choice in the details. However, if your travel dates and destination are flexible, and you’re looking to get away during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you just might find some last-minute holiday travel deals, even to warm-weather locations. Timing your flight for less desirable hours such as very early or late can also net you a lower fare, as can flying just before or after the peak travel rush.
Hold the hassle
One of the best things you can do to ease your travel stress is to pack light. You’ll also save money by not having to pay for a checked bag.
If you are visiting family and friends for the season, keep in mind that gifts you share with them can be shipped ahead of time. Plan early enough and you can save on shipping costs, while gaining hands-free travel in the bargain. Or take advantage of the prevalent free shipping options from almost every major online retailer. (You might have to pay for wrapping services!)
You can also save yourself grief by confirming that the dates are good on your passport, driver’s license, roadside assistance membership (if you’re driving) and credit cards as soon as you start making your travel plans. Nothing can complicate your trip like having any one of those items expire just before or during your trip!
If you’re taking your holiday vacation by car, be sure it’s working well with fresh fluids, new windshield wipers, good tires/snow tires and chains if you’ll need them, weather-wise, for the trip. A membership with a roadside assistance club is a great idea, as is a good emergency kit, with jumper cables, flares, first aid supplies, flashlight, blankets, ice scraper, water, snacks, and basic tools. Allow extra time in your schedule for traffic jams and weather delays.
Peace of mind
You can take the anxiety out of leaving an empty home behind by securing your apartment before you leave. Make sure you lock up and set your alarm. Place a hold on your mail and newspaper delivery, or have a trusted neighbor collect it while you’re away. Setting lights on timers is also a good way to discourage thieves looking for unwatched residences during the holidays.
No matter where you’re headed on your holiday travels or how you get there, planning ahead will help you enjoy a better vacation!
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