Use these simple holiday travel tips to not only survive but actually enjoy holiday travel!
There have only been two years that my husband and I didn’t travel over the holidays. We stayed home, cooked a delicious two-person meal, and enjoyed the time off work. But it just wasn’t the same. Okay, well it was the same, the same as every other day of the year, but it didn’t feel like a holiday. One of my absolute favorite things about the holiday is spending time with family and unfortunately we don’t have any family nearby so spending the holidays with family means traveling for the holidays. These are some my best tips to survive, and even enjoy, holiday travel based on my own experiences. Have some of your own tips? Share them in the comments!
Holiday Travel Tips
Book Early If You Can
Everyone always says the early bird gets the worm, well in this case, the early booker gets the cheap fares. I know there are plenty of things out there that say the Tuesday six weeks before you fly is the cheapest time to book plane tickets, but in my experience that doesn’t include holiday travel. Once you know for sure you’re flying somewhere, check out tickets and if they’re a reasonable price, book away. I’ve found that they tend to just get more and more expensive because the holidays are the busiest time to travel.
Since Thanksgiving is just over a month away, if you haven’t booked your tickets yet for this year you’re actually in luck. Tickets may be slightly more expensive than they would’ve been months ago BUT right now if you have a Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase, you can earn double your points on United purchases. That means you can book your flights throughout November and earn double the rewards. Sometimes booking last-minute can have its perks.
Travel on Non-Peak Days
I would say that the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are two of the busiest travel days of the entire year. Most people have Thursday and Friday off work, so they tend to leave either during the workday or after the workday on Wednesday and then come back on Sunday before returning to work again on Monday. I guarantee that your travel will be more enjoyable (and most likely more affordable) if you leave Tuesday (or earlier) and come home either Saturday or Monday. This year for Thanksgiving we’re flying to Kansas the Saturday before and coming home the Saturday after Thanksgiving and our flights are no more expensive than if I was flying any other week during the year.
Ship Your Gifts
Don’t try and pack all of your gifts into your suitcase to bring with you. Unless it’s handmade, you can probably buy it online and have it shipped directly to wherever you’re going. That gives you more space in your suitcase for the things you really need to bring with you.
Take Advantage of Holiday Promotions
The holidays are one of the biggest times of the year for advertising, promotions, and sales. Hello Black Friday! And that’s not just limited to retail items you might buy in the store. As you’re finalizing your travel plans, check and see if any airlines, hotel chains, or even your credit card are offering special deals.
For instance, from November 1-30, Marriott Rewards Premier and eligible United MileagePlus Credit Cards from Chase have come together for the first-time to offer a Double Stay, Double Go where Marriott Rewards Premier cardmembers earn double points on United purchases and United MileagePlus Explorer, Club, and Presidential card members earn double miles on any Marriott stays. And with 4,000 Marriott Hotels and 362 United flight destinations worldwide, I’m sure you can find a flight and hotel wherever you want to go. You can learn more about this promotion on the Double Stay, Double Go website.
Prepare for the Worst
I’ve found that when I expect something to be lackluster, I’m almost always pleasantly surprised because I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically for the worst. If you’re traveling with kids, bring enough DVDs for the car ride with the assumption that you’re going to hit traffic, give yourself an extra 30 minutes at the airport because it’s going to be busy, and pack yourself a treat or something that’ll get you through when it really is the worst. If you’re prepared, it’ll all work out.
What’s your best holiday travel tip?