Holiday Travel Tips Every Smart Tourist Needs To Know
Many Americans consider traveling during the holidays. After all, we deserve it! However, holidays can be difficult to travel during the year due to the logistical layer of the covid epidemic. Here are some tips for how to navigate the holiday travel season.
We’ve got all the information you need to travel safely and comfortably over the holidays.
Are you planning on traveling this holiday season? This is not a common sentiment. Chris Davidson from MMGY Global travel research company says that 53% of American adults plan to travel within the next 3 months. Online travel resource Hopper says that the TSA anticipates around two million passengers per day in the Christmas travel period. This is more than double the 2020 levels. While it is worth celebrating Christmas, there are some tips that will help you make your holiday travel experience as easy and stress-free.
Even if there aren’t many people with you on the road, traveling can be complicated, especially at this time. Carol Mueller, vice president at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection says, “If the past 18 months has taught any thing about traveling, it’s that you need to be prepared.” The pandemic has exacerbated the unpredictable nature travel disruptions.
Top travel experts were asked to share their top Christmas travel tips in order to make sure you have a relaxing holiday. The information you will need to plan your trip, including how to get there and what to do with the COVID travel guidelines. This is information that you should not leave home without. You are looking for Christmas activities close to your home? These tips are also useful when you drive to the best Christmas light shows in your area.
Book the earliest flight in the morning
Molly Fergus (general manager of TripSavvy) says that holidays can be notoriously difficult to fly during. One flight cancellation could cause disruptions to several other flights due to winter weather or peak crowds. Even worse, bad weather at busy airports such as JFK or O’Hare could cause chaos throughout the country and affect millions. Fergus states that booking the first flight in the morning is the best way to protect yourself from cancelled or delayed flights. “It’s not pleasant, sure, but it won’t make your flight delay or cancel at all.”
This winter and holiday season are set to break records. Experts advise travelers to start planning as soon possible because hotel and airfare costs are constantly rising. Hopper, a travel booking site, suggests that Thanksgiving and Christmas travel be booked no later than October. After Halloween airfares are expected to increase 40 percent.
For the best deal, choose the right travel date
It’s important to pick the right day for holiday travel. Hopper reports that Monday 22 November is the most affordable day to fly to Thanksgiving. Tuesday, December 21, is the ideal date to book Christmas travel.
This is the worst day to start planning your holiday trip. According to Priceline’s report, Wednesday, November 24, is the busiest date to travel. There are two additional dates you can add to this list: Wednesday, December 22, the Wednesday prior to Christmas, and Tuesday, between Christmas and New Year’s, December 28. It is possible to save money on travel by arriving a day early or staying an extra day. You might also consider flying on the holiday as air traffic is less and costs are lower. It’s possible to make up for lost time by having Christmas Eve celebrations that are extra special.
Consider alternate airports
You can beat the crowds, and stress levels during holidays by flying to airports that are more crowded. So, while Miami might be packed, there are two options: fly to Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach, which both offer domestic flights and can seat more people. FYI, these airports are the most reliable in the United States.
Keep an eye on the weather
Talking of delays, winter holidays often bring rain, sleet and snow. This can cause havoc on your plans whether you are flying or driving. Watch the weather reports before your trip to ensure that you are able to adjust your plans accordingly. Airline policies are flexible and allow travelers to postpone or transfer their travel plans to another date without additional fees. While you may be able to select an alternative destination, it is possible that you will have to pay an extra fee if you choose to change the destination.
Even if you’re in a good part of the country, it is important to keep an eye on the destination. Also, remember that weather events that affect some of the nation’s busiest airports can have a ripple effect across the country. Be sure to read our safety tips when driving in winter.
Make sure you have a back-up plan
You can plan your dream holiday trip, but you should also consider a second option in case it happens. Jacqueline Hampton (CEO of Portico), says that this will ensure you are ready for anything and not left behind. Your backup plan can be used to create a fun getaway for January/February, even if you don’t get the opportunity to go on your dream vacation.
Alexa LaBaw from Marchay Travel is a private luxury travel consultant. She agrees that it’s important to have both a Plan B and a Plan C. “It’s always useful to check resources like government/tourism board websites and work with your travel advisor to determine alternative trip options. This is a time when you might consider hiring a travel advisor even if it’s not something you would normally do. LaBaw states that traveling is no longer the same. The preparation and knowledge of a trusted travel advisor will help set expectations and ease stress should something have to be canceled.
Ace Airport Security
It’s impossible to predict when you might be flagged by TSA. TSA PreCheck will save you time and reduce security-line hassles. The fastest lines at security will be skipped and you can keep your shoes and jackets on. Your fee covers you for five-years. If you are a parent, your children under 12 years old can also go in the Fast Pass line.
Do you not have the time to sign-up for PreCheck? You should also be familiar with the TSA rules in order to avoid delays. All liquids must not exceed 3.4 ounces and fit within one 1-quart bag according to the 3-1-1 rule. Is it possible to take your baby food or pie with you? Visit the TSA’s page on What Can I Bring?
Gift wrap before you fly
What if you travel with Christmas gifts? Christina Pedroni from Liberty Travel advises that Christmas gifts should not be wrapped, no matter whether they are in carry-on or checked luggage. If the TSA needs to inspect your items, they’ll have to unwrap them. Pedroni also advises that, if you intend to give wine bottles as a gift to someone, they should pack them in their checked baggage. The liquid limit for carry on bags is exceeded and will be denied at security.
Make use of the hotel concierge
Jeffrey Morgan, who is the chief concierge at Conrad Washington DC, has 30 years of experience in hospitality. He says, “A good concierge is always up-to-date on the city’s events, the best restaurants and new museum exhibits.” They might be able recommend better restaurants, or access to better dining times. They can help make your family vacation memorable.
Hampton also suggests utilizing the concierge in the hotel for assistance with COVID protocols. She says that the concierge will be able to help you find a pharmacy or test location if you are travelling internationally.
Before you leave town, research the COVID requirements
COVID precautions are handled differently by every state. Fergus states that to be allowed to eat indoors in certain cities like New York City, proof of vaccination must be provided or a negative test results within the last 72 hours. The proof requirements vary from one city to the next. Make sure you check out any apps that are available in your destination country before downloading them. The following are other items you need to have on your COVID checklist in order to enjoy your holiday travels.
Hampton suggests that you take a picture of your vaccine card and place it in a Ziploc bag. For check-in at the airport, you’ll need to show your card. Most restaurants will accept a photograph of the card as proof. Download an approved COVID app to keep track of your status.
If you can, take a home testing kit with you. Hampton states, “Given that we’re moving into cold seasons, it can be in handy for peace-of-mind.” “Recently, when I was on vacation, my partner caught the cold. Because we were visiting his grandparents, we wanted extra caution and we used the home test as a way to confirm that it was not a cold. It’s a good idea not to wait until your trip, and to keep one or two of them on hand for winter.
Remember to bring masks, hand sanitizers and other protective equipment while you travel and at your destination. These are the most common places where you will contract coronavirus.
Byron Thomas (founder of Niarra Travel), advises to pack light and avoid carrying too many bags. Don’t forget to include laundry facilities in your hotel or travel accommodation. This means that you don’t necessarily need to take everything with you on longer trips. You can get through the airport faster if you don’t check your luggage. It also makes it easier to keep track of what you have and less stressful. He adds that “cargo and baggage contribute to an aircraft’s weight and increase carbon emissions. It is best to pack light and bring only your carry-ons.”
Our experts all agree that taking food with you, whether you drive or fly, is a great holiday travel tip. Fergus states that many airports (and highway rest stop) have a limited capacity. Therefore, it is advisable to bring your own snacks and essentials. You can also fill up your water bottle at the airport. Just remember to empty it prior to going through security.
Hampton always carries a protein snack (e.g. nuts or power bars) as well as a quick snack (e.g. dark cocoa). You’ll be ready for anything, even if you are delayed or have to travel long distances. Pick up a salad, but keep the dressing separate to ensure it lasts longer.
Get travel insurance
Megan Moncrief (chief marketing officer, Squaremouth travel insurance company) stated that the COVID-19 pandemic affected virtually all travelers on the planet. She also said that insurance demand will continue to rise. “Close to 40% of our travelers booked holiday trips this holiday season specifically sought coverage for COVID-19–this is the highest percentage that we have ever seen since the onset the pandemic.”
Remember that travel insurance policies are only applicable to COVID-19 infection and quarantined during or before your trip. Travel-delay coverage is available for travelers who are quarantined at the destination and are unable to return as planned. Standard cancellation policies do not cover things such as missing your flight because of long security lines or your passport not arriving in time for a negative COVID test, not getting it in the right amount, or not wanting travel due to vaccination requirements or general health concerns. Travelers would not receive reimbursement if they were affected by COVID.
Also, get insurance if driving on holiday.
Berkshire Hathaway’s Mueller said that travel insurance is a wise decision even for vacations within driving distance. You can choose a comprehensive insurance plan to protect your hotel, resort or rental-property deposits. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s ExactCare Lite policy is made for road-tripping travelers and provides valuable coverages, such as $500 for trip cancellation and $750 for trip interruption. Also, you can get medical-expense/medical-evacuation protection in case of an emergency that occurs when you travel outside your medical network.
Book your airport taxi well in advance
TripSavvy’s Fergus states that in many areas, rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are not available or have long wait times. Use the book-in advance feature of an app to plan your pick up at your airport or return ride. Fergus states that you will be able to reschedule your ride if your travel plans change.
Get travel apps
To talk about rideshare apps, make sure you have loaded your phone with useful travel apps. Make sure you include the one for your airline to keep track of flight schedules, and offer quick booking assistance. Another app to download is a hotel booking option as well as a car rental option. You can also add YELP as a restaurant option and a weather option while you’re at the same time. A good road trip app will be useful for booking last-minute hotel rooms, getting gas, and finding the best restaurant along your route. All of these apps can turn your phone into an emergency travel agent.