Shouldn’t the holidays be more joyful than waiting in long lines? Really. Here are our tips for making holiday travel better. With the time and money saved, you might on occasion take your holiday with family or friends beachside.
1. Snag that fare: whether you’re travelling for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any holiday, you need to book a great fare when you see it. It doesn’t need to be that far out- it can be as soon as 30-45 days out and you may find some decent prices 21 days out depending on seats available. Sites like Kayak let you compare fares and even indicate whether the fare is likely to rise.
Airlines may have a 24-hour change, cancellation or refund policy. For example, here is United Airlines’ flexible booking policy without fee in a nutshell. Also view the terms and conditions if you have a specific question about the policy.
2. Consider leaving and returning a day earlier, or later: Take it easier. Go a day earlier than usual or the morning of the holiday. You’ll avoid the big crowds while having flexibility in case of inclement weather. You may also find a better fare. Most travel sites, like Delta Air Lines’ below and its partner Virgin Atlantic, let you select and view flexible days to compare fares for different travel days.
3. Travel often? Think about getting pre-screened: Whether in the US, Canada or other places, you may be able to apply for airport pre-screening or pre-check status. The line or queue is often much shorter, and you generally won’t need to take off shoes, jackets, remove laptops, etc. There is an administrative fee for the service, and you can compare programs and approval times, e.g., at the TSA website. If you’re travelling with young children, they generally may use the same lane as you, and you can apply on behalf of older children.
4. Earn miles, even when you shop: If you’ll be shopping anyway for family or friends, earn points or miles you can use toward future travel. Compare the best travel credit cards or cash back credit cards; there are some travel card offers with no annual fee, reasonable grace periods or interest rates. A good credit card offer comparison site is NerdWallet here.
According to AAA’s holiday travel stats, nearly a million more people will be travelling at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving than last year. Hopefully, our travel tips here will help you save some time and money to make the whole experience as great as it can be for everyone, including you.