10 Holiday Travel Tips and Strategies

By Paul Riegler on 4 December 2012
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The holiday season, when the combination of crowds and unpredictable weather can make things tricky, is one of the busiest and most stressful travel periods of the year.

Planning ahead can, however, make your trip more enjoyable so here are a few tips and strategies to consider.

1.)        While conventional wisdom says book early, don’t overlook last minute bargains.  Once a hotel figures out that it hasn’t sold all of its rooms, it can translate into tremendous savings for you.  Last minute bargains were quite prevalent last year.

2.)        Allow for traffic and long lines.  Since everyone is traveling, there will be traffic jams, backed up security checkpoints, and delayed flights.

3.)        Travel light.  Pack only what you can fit into bags that qualify as carry-ons. Lugging heavy suitcases around slows you down; waiting for checked bags to arrive takes away from your vacation time.  Double check with your airline regarding specific rules for carry-on bags.

4.)        Make copies or scans of important documents, such as passports, drivers licenses, credit cards, and carry the copies with you.  Pickpockets and thieves love the holidays.

5.)        Check flight status before departing for the airport.  Not only are delays more prevalent during the holiday season, but schedule changes are as well.

6.)        Password protect your smartphones, tablets, and computers before traveling.  If they have remote security features (common on Apple iOS and BlackBerry devices), make sure these have been activated.

7.)        Keep an eye on your possessions.  Whether it’s your laptop at the security checkpoint, or your bag on a chair in an airport lounge, it only takes a moment’s inattention for a thief to walk away with something of value that you’ll never see again.

8.)        Ship your gifts. If you are traveling with presents, consider shipping them to your destination.  Not only will that allow you to avoid checking a bag, but you can wrap them before the trip and insure the items as well.

9.)        Avoid connections wherever possible.  The more times you have to take off and land, the greater the likelihood of a delay or cancellation.  Even if a non-stop costs more, consider taking it for the peace-of-mind it will bring.

10.)      Plan for delays.  Delayed flights, oversold hotels, and bad weather are almost a certainty.  Check weather forecasts for your destination as well as departure city. Bring a snack along (your plane could end up sitting on the tarmac for several hours), and keep phone numbers at the ready.  If your flight does get delayed or cancelled and you have frequent flier status with the airline, call the airline’s gold or platinum desk instead of getting on line with everyone else that needs rebooking. The agents on the other end of the phone are there to help the airline’s best customers.

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