Traveling can be tough enough with making sure you pack the right things and pesky TSA. The holidays are meant to be a happy time, so travel happy. Whether this means booking your flight for Christmas Day or buying two one-way tickets instead of planning a round trip, tuck a few of these tricks up your sleeve to make sure you get to where you're going—without the extra stress.
Take Advantage of the 24-Hour Policy
Most airlines have a 24-hour policy that allows you to cancel your flight reservation within 24 hours. To do this, your flight must have been made at least a week prior to the departure date. While this policy doesn't apply to those last minute doozies, they're a great option for unexpected changes in your travel plans— a lot can happen in 24-hours.
Try A Smaller Airport
Larger airports tend to have higher fees that they pass onto you, the consumer. Flying from a smaller airport can save you a chunk of money and save you from the traditional holiday crowds. It's always nice to not spend an hour waiting in a TSA line.
Avoid One-Way Tickets
One-way tickets tend to be more expensive than round-trip fares. Unless you're one of the lucky few who catches a deal and lands 2 one-way tickets that happen to be less expensive than a round-trip, one-way tickets aren't ideal for your holiday travels. Unless, of course, you don't plan on flying back any time soon.
Track Deals Online
One of the most important things you can do when you travel is get ahold of every deal you can find and compare them to each other. Whether you start tracking flights 6-months early or a week before you want to leave, deals are always changing. And the truth is, if you want the best price, you have to do a little deal digging.
Ask Yourself: Why Are You Traveling?
Whether you're traveling during a traditional holiday or an anniversary, the stress associated with holiday travel is real. The way you travel depends a lot on the reason why you're traveling. If it's a family affair, then you'll probably want to pack more snacks. If it's an anniversary, then you might be safe booking a red-eye.
The Power Of Red-Eye Flights
A red-eye flight takes off late at night and arrives early in the morning, which leaves you in the air overnight. Despite the awkward timing of these flights, they're often less expensive than traditional flights. These are more ideal for couples or solo travel, but if you choose to fly on a red-eye with children, be prepared for some jet lag across the board.
Stick to Saturdays
According to various travel agencies, Saturday is the best day to book a flight to avoid delays. While it might sound like a crazy popular day to fly, and it is, it's also known to get you to your destination on time. Other "off-peak travel" days are good to book a flight on, too— but those depend on the airport.
Fly On the Actual Holiday
Stressed about getting back home for Christmas because you forgot to buy tickets and Christmas is a week away? Turns out, flying out on Christmas Eve or even Christmas can save you a ton of cash. The same rings true for other traditional holidays as well. So, don't worry if you haven't booked a flight yet. You still have time!
Keep it light— that's how you should pack for any occasion. You usually don't need half of the things you pack in the first place. But when it comes to flying, the more luggage you pack, the more expensive it can get. Save your money and leave the extra pair of shoes at home.
Carry-Ons Are Best
In order to avoid the hassle of waiting for your luggage after you land or the airline losing your luggage, keep your luggage with you. Some airlines only allow one carryon and a personal item—take advantage of it. Anything you can't pack, you might not need or you can buy when you get to your destination. Keep it light so you can avoid the holiday travel crowds.
Make A List, Check It Many Times
This is not the same as planning ahead, but the two do coincide. You should make a list in order to plan ahead. Lists are things you should be checking off as you complete them; planning is what you do when you put all of your lists together. Making a list of the gifts you need to get, things you want to do when you get there, people you should see, etc., is a good way to keep those people who thrive off of organization sane during the holidays.
Pack an Extra, Empty Bag
One bag there, two bags back— that's the trick. Pack an empty bag with you at the bottom of your luggage for anything you might want to bring back with you. More often than not, you've already packed your bag to the brim. And there's no reason you shouldn't be able to bring home any goodies you encountered on your trip.
Make the Most of Airline Apps
Apps are created to help us. Most travel agencies and airlines have their own apps to keep you updated about your travel reservation, so why not use them? From changes in travel reservations to new deals on flights, travel apps can make everything easier on you. Plus, most apps have easy interfaces to make you more comfortable using them.
Checking in online saves you from the hassle of ticket lines, giving you your boarding pass before you ever step foot in the airport. The most you'll have to do is weigh your bag when you get to the airport. Plus, when you check-in online, the cost of checked luggage is less expensive, which is great if you couldn't stick everything into a carry-on.
Experiences Weigh Less Than Gifts
Depending on the holiday, you might be traveling with gifts. Scratch those and trade them for an experience you can share with another person. Sports game tickets, spa days, hikes and things you don't need to wrap and mean just as much as any physical object. But they won't weigh your bag down. We could all use a little quality time over material things every once in a while.
Wait to Wrap Gifts
Bringing gifts with you when you travel is tough. Depending on what the gifts are, they can take up tons of space in your bag. And if you wrap them too soon, you risk damaging them during the flight. Wait until you land to buy the wrapping paper and bows. Maybe skip out on wrapping them at all using a gift bag and tissue paper or just ship them ahead of time.
Magic of a Scarf
Scarfs can do just about anything. They're a versatile article of clothing that makes traveling a little easier. You can wear it to the airport or pack it in your carryon; it'll make it through TSA either way. When you get on the plane, feel free to use it as a pillow or wrap it around you as a blanket.
Traveling on the holidays is stressful enough without tight pants and high heels. Nobody is going to mind if you choose to wear sweats and no makeup because they're probably wearing the same thing. And you can always change your clothes when you get to where you're going.
Expect the Unexpected
The key to traveling during the holidays is to expect the unexpected. You can't realistically be prepared for everything, but it doesn't hurt to think ahead and plan accordingly. By having a couple of back-up plans, you ensure that your travel arrangements are slightly less stressful.
Yes, you can bring snacks on a flight! Other than the food in the airport terminal, you can bring Ziploc bags and containers of snacks through TSA as long as they follow certain requirements. Traveling is unpredictable, but snacks shouldn't be. Keep the hanger away.
Send Your Itinerary to Other People
For the sake of keeping yourself and people your travel with safe, you should consider sending your itinerary to someone you aren't traveling with. In case anything does happen or someone needs to get in touch with you, they'll know how. It's also nice for the people who are picking you up to know what they're getting themselves into.
Having an idea of what you need to do is a good way to keep perspective. You don't need to stick to your plans with a rigid grasp, but think of them as an outline to your travels. Making travel arrangements might not be the only thing on your plate right now. Getting distracted and sidetracked happens. And if it happens to you, at least you have a planned outline.
Keep Something Non-Electronic Handy
While phones and laptops and tablets are incredible at distracting us, they do run on a battery. Batteries can't last forever and there isn't always an accessible power socket. Consider bringing a book or a puzzle to pass the time as you wait for your flight.
Road Tripping Instead
If you opt to drive instead of fly, then a little more research is required. While most people assume using their phones as a GPS will work, it's good to have a back-up plan. There's nothing more stressful than getting lost or stranded on the road. Although it won't get you to your destination as quickly, it may be much more enjoyable.
Find Your Peace
Things won't be perfect because, well, holidays are hectic. You're not the only one trying to make the most out of their travels. If you can find your peace in the midst of holiday chaos, then your travels will flow a lot more seamlessly. Not everything will go your way, but that's okay.