Holiday Travel Tips
The holidays are officially in full swing. With Thanksgiving a few days away and Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to start planning when and where to get together with friends, family and all the important people in your life. Inevitably, Thanksgiving specifically and the holiday season in general mean time spent battling the populous in mass transit. So whether you’re driving, flying or taking the train, here are some tips and rules of thumb to make your trip a little easier.
Book Early, Travel Early and Check-in Early. We all know that booking a ticket early saves money and checking in online saves time; but these two steps could also ensure that you don’t get bumped off your flight or miss a connection. The earlier you book, the more likely you can find a direct flight to your destination or allow for at least a two hour window to make a connecting flight. Also, if you have to drive or take mass transit, the earlier you leave the better, especially if the weather is good. The better the weather, the later people get on the road; get a head start by leaving early or taking the first flight, train or bus.
Set a Higher Budget. With an economy on the rise, 3.5% more people are finding the means to travel this season. However, the travel industry has not yet caught up with this trend with only a 2.2% increase in available seats, meaning that more people are competing for fewer seats thus driving up prices. Not only are ticket prices higher than last year, but airlines are charging more for checked bags and some, like Spirit, are even charging for carry-ons. Personal auto travel will be more expensive as well: gas prices are 10% higher than last year .
Plan Ahead. If you are making a connection, map out your airport route either by printing out a map of the airport you will be connecting through or asking the flight attendant on your first flight which gate you will be heading to. This way, you won’t waste time on the ground wandering around the airport. Also, set up the automatic text messaging/phone alerts provided by most airlines to inform you of delays and cancellations.
Ship what you can, this includes food, presents and any excess luggage; anything you can do to decrease you baggage will help you through long lines and expensive surcharges. You can also check your bags in advance online and save time at the ticket counter.
Know the Security. Airports have new security guidelines beyond the 3.4 ounce liquid rule that include full body scans and/or full pat downs. Do what you can to make this process as easy as possible: don't take liquids at all or have them neatly prepared in your carry-on, empty your pockets of loose change, avoid jewelry and belts and wear jackets and shoes that are easily removable.
Lastly, be safe, smart and savvy this holiday (travel) season. Watch out for suspicious behavior, keep an eye on your belongings and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Remember, we’re all going to get there eventually and being rude, stubborn or mean to your fellow travelers or industry workers won’t get anyone there any faster. Happy trails!