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We can’t deny it any longer. The holidays are coming and it’s time to start holiday travel planning. Although the holidays are a special time to rest and reconnect with family (and eat all the food), holiday travel means crowds, weather, and waiting. With a little holiday travel planning, you can reduce some of the anxiety and focus on the festivities. Check out our best tips below.
When you’re holiday travel planning, you’re often locked into their destinations. If you’re going to Grandma’s house and Grandma lives in Toledo, then you’re headed to Toledo. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky few who uses their timeshare over the holidays, in which case you have no flexibility. But you do have some control over connecting airports. Since you know you’ll be facing crowds, connect through airports with lots of space, places to eat, sit, and charge your devices. Also connect through airports with good track records for on-time flights. The last thing you want to do is wait around with your kids complaining for hours on end. And don’t forget to give yourself generous connection times. A missed connection this time of year can truly derail your holiday.
If your location is flexible, then it’s time to shop around for that perfect holiday getaway. Find deals using sites like Kayak, Trip Advisor, or Google Flights. You can search rates for flexible dates and flexible destinations to maximize your holiday gift to yourself!
No matter where you’re headed, severe weather may be lurking. You can’t really plan for that, but it’s a good idea to avoid connecting through known weather zones if you can. And if you’re choosing your destination, make it about sunshine rather than snow. However, if you have your heart set on a Christmas ski vacation, then get ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store. Luckily, you’ll already have your coat and boots in your bags!
The holiday season is also the busiest travel season in the United States. So, if you’re traveling this time of year, crowds are unavoidable. However, you can avoid the worst of it if you steer clear of the biggest days. At Thanksgiving, Wednesday is the worst. If it’s an option, consider flying on Thanksgiving. You’ll avoid the crowds and you may even find some big discounts. The same goes for returning on Monday. Take advantage of the airplane Wi-Fi to do your Christmas shopping online while you cruise home. Christmas and New Year’s travelers will face different challenges depending on what day of the week the holidays fall. Try to optimize long-weekends and take some extra time to research fares and dates.
We love great deals on airfare and hotels. And we certainly love travel hacking and optimizing airline rewards. For many holiday travelers, price is a secondary concern to dates and destinations. Still, it’s always a good idea to shop around to find the best deals in holiday travel planning.
However, if you’re planning to cash in on your frequent flyer miles and airline rewards, you may be disappointed. You’ll likely face blackout dates where can’t use your points or miles. (Unless of course, you’re flying Southwest, which has no blackout dates. Just don’t forget to check in!) But if you take advantage of diverse rewards programs, you can find ways to put that money to work. Or, if you have a credit card with flexible points or benefits, use them on holiday travel. However, booking in advance and being flexible about dates and times are the best ways to find deals on airfare when doing your holiday travel planning.
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