Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for travel but if you can’t avoid it this year, here are some helpful tips to keep your journey as stress-free as possible and not let anything ruin your festive cheer:
#1 Cover The Basics
If you’re flying abroad then make sure you have all the basics covered before getting carried away with the exciting buzz of the season. Check passports and visas are current, don’t forget to print out important documents such as boarding cards and arrange your travel insurance as early as possible to get the best deals.
# 2 Plan Ahead
Traffic congestion can get pretty bad around peak holiday times with everyone getting away at the same time. Make sure you have plenty of time to get to the airport, giving yourself extra time so you can feel relaxed. You’ll find it much more enjoyable having a drink in the airport lounge with time to kill than stuck in a jam about to miss your flight.
#3 Weather Watch
Winter weather can throw up a few nasty surprises so check reports before you travel. This aspect of travel is beyond your control but it pays to know the forecast so you can allow extra time if necessary. While nobody wants to think about worst-case scenario, it’s sensible to have a contingency plan if a winter storm threatens to dampen your spirits.
#4 Secure Your Home
If your home will be unoccupied while you’re away then make sure you’ve got it secured. Cancel any deliveries, set lights to come on automatically or ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things. If the temperature is going to drop significantly while you’re absent, consider setting the heating to come on low to avoid the risk of burst pipes. Also think about maybe leaving some boots on the porch or a car on the driveway, all signs that your home is actually occupied.
#5 Avoid Peak Dates
Some dates are pricier than others, depending on how Christmas falls that year. Try a flight search engine to check flexible dates and this will show you which dates are coming up as the most expensive. If you can, travel a few days before these peak dates to save money and your sanity! The same applies to your return flights if they fall at the start of the New Year.
#6 Airport Knowledge
When it comes to getting the best deal, many people know that choosing a smaller airport can make a big difference to cost. This can make an even bigger difference during holiday travel with savings to be made on parking, rentals, hotel rooms and less congestion. Do some research and if you can fly from a smaller airport, you should definitely consider it.
#7 Smart Short-Cuts
Take advantage of online services such as printing boarding passes before you travel or having an e-ticket available to pull up on your smartphone. This can save a lot of time at the airport. Instead of worrying about how to transport Christmas gifts or having to hit the stores as soon as you arrive at your destination, order gifts online and have them shipped directly to where you’ll be staying. No more stress over luggage or loss!
#8 Pick A Package
Even if this is something you don’t normally do, take a look at package deals as they can be very competitive during peak season. When the cost of booking everything independently skyrockets at Christmas, it could well be time to consider bundling your booking into flight/hotel or flight/hotel/car packages and save some cash.
#9 Fly Direct
The more stops you make, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong. Delays at connecting airports can be a nightmare, where you’re stuck in unfamiliar territory and have no family or friends to rely on. During busy peak travel times, why give yourself the hassle of making a tight connection? Some savings are just not worth the potential headache.
#10 Stay Merry
Easier said than done but try to keep your cool. Losing it with airline staff never ends well for the traveler and you could find yourself spending Christmas in a cell! Be patient when you hit security as this will take longer than expected. For those who don’t fly often, the liquid and gel rules might still be catching some people out.