I have had a number of clients in the past couple of weeks that all want to travel around Christmas and New Years. It is the single most expensive time of year to travel (Thanksgiving is pretty bad, too, but it is a much shorter time frame). Children are out of school, people want to get away – I understand. Truly, I do. So, I have compiled the top 10 holiday travel tips to help you navigate the scene.
1. Use a travel agent. Whether it is me, or someone else, use a pro that knows how to find the best deals, and can steer you clear of dreadful flights. Case in point: There are flights available from Miami to Paris, for example, with a stop in New York. If you are not careful, you could end up flying into La Guardia and out of Kennedy. A travel professional will help you avoid that, as well as many other pitfalls. Oh, and it usually costs you less.
2. Understand the costs. If your flight from New York to Florida normally costs $300/person, there is a good chance that around the holidays it could be $600/person, or more. Which brings me to the next point:
3. Try to be flexible. It may save you money to fly on the Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. You may also get a better deal on a connecting flight, versus a nonstop one. It may make you miss your plans, though, so be clear in your expectations of when you will arrive and depart.
4. Know that your flight may be late. If you are flying into New York on December 31, at 4PM, and expected at a party at 7PM, there is a very solid chance you will be late. Roll with the punches, or fly the day before.
5. Hotels book up fast. It is not just the airlines that can be a problem. If you have your heart set on a certain resort or hotel, book as early as possible. Many places are already sold out completely for the end of December.
6. Pack light. Ship your gifts ahead of time, and pack as lightly as possible. Avoid checking bags and the possibility of lost luggage, if you can. An otherwise great vacation will get off to a really horrible start if the airlines have lost your luggage, along with gifts for your whole family.
7. Bring snacks. This is not a joke. It is one thing to navigate a gazillion people at the airport, check luggage and deal with flight delays. It is quite another thing to do it all on an empty stomach, and with low blood sugar. Hungry travelers are grumpy travelers, and it is easy enough to avoid being one of them.
8. Entertain the kids. If you are traveling with children, plan ahead for how to entertain them: at the airport, en route, and once you arrive at your destination. The only thing worse than a grumpy, hungry traveler is if that traveler is a child and unaware of his or her inside voice. Your fellow travelers will thank you.
9. Charge your devices. You don’t want to have to fight for outlet space at the airport. If everything is charged, you can find the least crowded area possible to hang out and wait for your flight.
10. Buy travel insurance. This is something that your travel professional (me, or someone else) can help with. It is important to have coverage, not only if you get sick and need to cancel, but also if your trip gets interrupted – maybe you have missed a connection or you forgot to pack light and your luggage was lost or delayed. Keep all receipts for extra expenditures to submit to the insurance company.
Yes, #7 is directed to Florida Keys Guy (well, really to me, as I am the one that will need to pack the snacks…) But seriously, try to make things easier on yourself. Travel is challenging enough – especially air travel – there is no need to add extra stress. Stop spending a ton of time online searching and searching and just call a pro. Trust me on that. And don’t forget to breathe.