Many of us travel quite frequently during the year, and those of us that do know that the most hectic and chaotic time to travel is during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Almost everything and anything that can go wrong has happened during this travel time. After all, this is the most crowded, most hectic, and most expensive time of year for vacations. Even though some of holiday travels’ baggage is unavoidable, not to mention the baggage itself, there are some ways you can avoid a headache just by doing a little advance planning.
The most basic travel tip is to book as far in advance as possible. This will only lessen the stress that you feel as your trip nears. Especially around the holiday season, you want to book your flight well in advance. So many people travel during this time, that flights book up quickly and prices start to rise quickly. The best way to find a great deal is to use the internet and the many search engines available to you. If you are a seasonded user of online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz, you may be surprised at the many new features they are introducing.
There are other search engines like Sidestep, that search the airline sites to find the lowest fares then direct you to that airlines site for no additional fee. Another search engine that does this is Kayak, which searches all of the airlines, saving you the trouble of searching those sites for yourself. If you have a certain budget to stick with, try a site like Yapta.com, which will search for your specific price point and alert you when they have found the price. Although, during the holidays, many people book flights on a last-minute basis, so you many not have the luxury of waiting around to find a good deal on a flight. If this is the case, take the first deal that is reasonable and stick with it.
On your checklist should be all of the documents that you must bring with you. Especially if you are traveling internationally, you’ll want to make sure that your passport and other ID documents are up to date. This will only save you the hassle of trying to scrounge up these documents at the last minute. These days you must have a passport to fly to places like Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and many other Carribean locations. So, make sure that these are ready to go and easily accessible when you are packing.
If you find yourself having to book a flight a month in advance if you are going to spend part of the holiday season away, you may just want to pick a destination that doesn’t require passport identification. One month is not enough time to get a passport ready in time to travel, let alone finding all of the other documents that you will likely be asked to present. Even though many areas around the United States require a passport, you still will be able to travel to an exotic location if that’s what you are craving. U.S. citizens do not need a passport when traveling to and from U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but you will need other forms of identification, like a birth certificate or a drivers’ license.
Booking a Hotel
Once you are set with your airline tickets, it’s time to start thinking about where you are going to lodge when away. Around the holiday season, you may not be able to book your dream hotel room, but if you think against the grain you will be able to find a reasonable price at a nice hotel. Often, hotels that specifically cater to business travelers are lacking guests during the holidays. After all, not many people are traveling for business purposes during this time. Because of this, hotels will offer good discounts and perks for travelers to stay at their hotels. You will definitely end up with a great price if you choose one of these hotels.
It may not be the most romantic thing to check into a business hotel on Christmas Eve, but it is sure to beat sleeping on the spare couch or in the guest bedroom at the in-laws.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are not traveling too close to where other holiday travelers are going to be. Try to choose destinations that are less likely to be traveled to during this time of year. For example, a smaller city next to a major one is better to travel to because it will be less crowded and you’ll end up getting some great deals on hotels, entertainment, and rental cars.
So, as you try to navigate yourself around the overcrowded airporst, deal with the hassle of checked and carry-on baggage rules, and hopefully find that your maintaining that true holiday spirit, remember these few tips and pass them on to other holiday travelers. If you are prepared, the trip will be more enjoyable and you’ll find that you want to do it all over again the next year.