While many of us look forward to gathering with family and friends for the holidays, traveling around one of the busiest seasons of the year also brings quite a few hassles, not to mention the added expense of higher airfare and accommodation. If you live far away from family, the holidays could be stressful for you if you have to worry about planning a trip home.
According to redfin.com, there are many amazing homes for sale all around the country, so many people find themselves in this situation. Maybe you’re doing the opposite and going on a vacation during the holidays instead. No matter the reason, traveling close to the holidays can be a trying time for everyone.
Traveling around the holidays is known for causing people a lot of stress, but it doesn’t always have to be as bad as it’s made out to be. By being smart about how you plan and travel, you can avoid some of the most common sources of stress.
If you’re planning on traveling during the holiday season, follow these tips to make it easier for you.
1. Book As Far in Advance as Possible
One of the worst things you could do if you’re traveling near a holiday is to wait for the last minute to book a flight. While rates for airfare and hotels are often at their highest over the holidays, by booking as far in advance as possible, you’re likely to score a better deal on both. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, booking flights right on the actual day of the holiday like Christmas or New Year’s Day can be cheaper. Otherwise, try looking at dates that fall on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Sunday. You also don’t want to put this off for too long and miss out on a flight completely.
2. Check Multiple Airports
Some people might automatically look at all the major airports near where they’re traveling, but this isn’t always the best option. If your biggest concern is convenience, be aware that flying into or out of a smaller airport can make a significant difference in the traveling experience as there are usually shorter lines and fewer crowds. These airports may come at a higher cost, however, but that’s not always the case. When you’re still looking for plane tickets, look at as many airports as possible.
3. Comparison Shop on Multiple Sites
Don’t buy a ticket from the first place you look, as you could end up finding different prices from different sources. It’s important to compare airfare prices both directly on airline websites and third-party bookings. Search everything from Google flights to Expedia, casting a wide net so you can compare all your options. This is something to always keep in mind when you’re planning a trip, not just around the holidays. If it’s possible for you to get a less expensive ticket, you don’t want to miss your chance.
4. Carefully Check Connection Times and Layovers
Whenever you’re traveling, unexpected delays can be a nightmare. During the holidays, particularly when flying through or to areas subject to extreme winter weather, delays and cancellations are more likely. You know that there’s always a possibility that this will happen, so it’s best to be prepared for it if it does. When you book your flights, carefully check the details to be sure you have sufficient time between connections, building in a cushion for possible travel delays. Avoiding tight connections can help you avoid a missed flight and ruining your whole trip.
5. Allow for Plenty of Time to Check-In and Security
You likely already know how important it is to add in some extra time to your travel plans, which is especially true for holiday traveling. During peak travel times like the holiday season, everything from a traffic jam to a full parking lot and long lines through security can make it easier to end up missing your flight. Be sure to leave for the airport early, anticipating all possible delays. It’s much better to arrive sooner and have to wait around then having to panic with worry that you won’t be able to board your flight. With so many full flights around the holidays, it may not be possible to get another one within a reasonable amount of time if you do miss it.
6. Don’t Pack Wrapped Gifts
When you’re going home for the holidays, you’re probably bringing back at least a few gifts along with you. If you’re a person who struggles with packing, this might be hard to navigate. Naturally, you’ll want to wrap your holiday gifts. However, you should never pack wrapped gifts as TSA has the right and often will unwrap and inspect them. Instead of placing them in checked bags, try to devote a carry-on bag strictly to any gifts you’re bringing just in case the airline loses your luggage. If you’re worried about bringing too much with you, you can always order your gifts online and have them delivered to your destination.
7. Be Patient and Flexible
Traveling during the holidays is generally more stressful, but you can get through it much more easily by rolling with whatever happens. Patience and flexibility are key, so prepare for the worst, assuming lots of crowds, bringing entertainment options for delays and snacks to prevent getting “hangry.” If things go awry, try to remain calm and polite, practicing breathtaking techniques if necessary as it will be much easier to solve problems with a level head.
When it comes to traveling, there’s only so much you can do to control your situation. Following this advice can help make your trip run smoother and save you some anxiety, but you won’t make it perfect. Traveling close to a holiday can still be stressful, and you can’t do anything for some of the issues that come up, so it’s best to be prepared for it in advance. Being ready for some bumps along the way can help you stay calm when it happens.