Travel during the holidays can be extra tough. Everyone is traveling so lines are long prices are high and weather is usually bad. So to help you navigate these dangerous waters here are some tips to make your travel as smooth and enjoyable as possible. (I am not promising your travel will be enjoyable!)
I choose these tips in particular because they are family focused and a bit different. I am not listing the standard tips that you can find on any website…choose non-peak fly dates, pack light, shop around for good airfare etc… I am assuming you already know those. (Hope I am not assuming too much!) For a great resource about traveling with your family in general, check out my post Travel with Kids 101
1. Carefully Pick Your Flights
- Don’t book multiple carriers! I can’t stress this enough. It is a disaster waiting to happen. When you aren’t on the same airline carrier for your entire trip no airline takes responsibility for you or your luggage. If your first flight is delayed and you miss your connection…too bad, you will have to buy a new ticket. Your luggage is changing hands and carriers too so it is much more likely to get lost. When this happens each airline will blame the other and you will be stuck on the phone frustrated instead of eating turkey. My brother made the mistake of booking the cheapest flight through Cheap-O-air. He was traveling alone and so he had some flexibility but his mistake would ruin a family traveling.
- Be sure to have enough time between connections. Flights can be legally booked with 1/2 hour between connections. When traveling with a family in the winter allow at least 1 hour.
- Use less crowded airports less crowded airports or connect through warm weather airports and fly early in the day.
- Check out Flight Stats to research a route’s on-time record, and the Transportation Security Administration’s “Wait Times”section if you’re wondering how long it takes to get through airport security.
2. Stay in “Business” Hotels
- If you aren’t staying with family you may be able to score a great deal on a hotel in the business district. Not a lot of business travel during the holidays so these hotels are empty.
- Use Hotels.com and earn 1 free night when you book 10.
3. Join a Rewards Club
- Join the rental car or hotel loyalty program. Even if you will only use it once.
- They often offer express check-in
- Free upgrades
- Free breakfast or gifts upon arrival
- Usually they take care of their loyalty customers before others. So if you run into an issue you will be given priority.
4. Book in Bulk
- See if you can go in with other family members or friends to travel as a group to get a better rate.
- Consider renting a house instead hotels rooms. More space, more freedom and if you have a group probably cheaper.
- Check out Groople.com, a travel website that specializes in groups.
5. Ship Your Stuff
- The cost of taking luggage on a plane is outrageous, plus managing it in the airport along with kids running around, trying to find tickets and getting sticky icing on your boarding pass isn’t any fun. Pack all your nonessential stuff and ship it via UPS, FedEx or other national carrier.
- Really consider which gifts, luggage, gear you need on your person while traveling. Then the stuff you don’t need…ship!
- Do it in advance (10 days if possible) and you will be surprised how cost-effective it can be, especially when compared to the cost of additional luggage on the plane!
There you have it. Hope this helps streamline the process and Happy Holidays!
Do you have any tips to share. We would love to hear them.
If you like our content you can get it delivered directly to your inbox.
Here are a few other helpful links to make your trip less painful: