According to AAA, this holiday season is going to be the busiest one yet. Low gas prices have made traveling more accessible to many, and more than 100 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles away from home next week. Though you’ll certainly feel the congestion at the airports and train stations, expect to see the most grid lock on the roads, as about 90% are estimated to be traveling via automobile. It is more important than ever to be well prepared to avoid transforming into the Grinch due to overwhelming frustration.
1. Plan to leave extra early.
Whether you’re driving, flying or taking a bus/train, prepare to leave much earlier than you normally would. Not only should you leave extra time to actually drive to your destination (whether it be the airport or train station), but you should also leave extra time for the necessities such as parking, checking in and going through security. Holiday travel is pretty stressful for everyone, even the employees, so it will benefit everyone if you bring your patience with you as well.
2. Be the first one on the plane or road.
Taking the first flight out or hitting the road at the crack of dawn may seem inconvenient, but it will certainly save you ample time in the long run. The later you wait for a flight, the greater the possibility of delays. Over the last few years, more than 40% of flights were delayed during Thanksgiving week alone. Road traffic is similar, in that the longer you wait the more cars there are on the road. Though you may be a bit tired, you won’t be as cranky as you would’ve been had you sat in the airport or in your car an extra two hours.
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3. Choose the off-peaks of the peak.
Though the entire holiday season is busy, try to head out either well before the holiday begins or on the day of the holiday itself. For Christmas, traveling on the eve of Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day itself, will lessen (though not eliminate completely) the blow to your patience from holiday congestion. The day before the holiday itself is actually the worst day to travel so, if possible, I would recommend avoiding it at all costs.
4. Be attached to your mobile device.
Normally, everyone around you is yelling at you to get off your phone, however during holiday travel time, staying attached to it is a must. If flying, you’ll want to pay close attention to apps like Flight Status to watch for delays or use GateGuru at the airport to view all the amenities available to you while you’re trapped there. If the roads beckon, you’ll definitely want to use apps like Waze to help guide you to literally the roads less traveled or GasBuddy to show you the nearest gas stations with their corresponding prices per gallon. In these times, using your smartphone can really save valuable time and your sanity.
5. Expect the unexpected.
On a holiday weekend, the chances of your well thought out plans going without a hitch, no matter how hard you try, is pretty slim. Expect delays, a flat tire, lost luggage and other normally unforeseen circumstances so you can be prepared if these things do become a reality. Are you driving through snow? Perhaps bring a shovel or tire chains in case the roads are bad. Will your flight have a connection? Try to leave extra time between connections and also check to make sure there is a connection after yours just in case yours gets delayed or canceled. Checking luggage? Make sure you pack the necessities and a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your suitcase goes MIA.
Armed with these travel tips, my holiday wish for you is smooth travel! With preparation and lots of patience, your holiday season will continue to be a joy, no matter what bumps you encounter along the way to your final destination. Still need to make plans? You can use our Search & Save Tool to compare car rentals, compare airfare deals or compare hotel offers!
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