We know travel. We know the good, the bad, and the ugly. And in an effort to replace the ugly that can sometimes accompany such a cheerful time, we’ve gathered some tips and tricks to do holiday travel right.
Watch airline prices and check your dates. If you’re planning on flying somewhere around the holidays, there can be a lot of nuances that can help or hurt.
If you’re looking to save money and fly on a smaller airline, beware of blackout dates and fees. You might end up paying the same amount as a bigger airline. Fees to check for include:
- Seat Charges
- Carry-On Baggage
- Checked Baggage
- Trip Insurance
As much as you can help it, do not fly on Friday. Friday is the most expensive and busiest day to fly, whereas Tuesday is, on average, the cheapest. Being flexible about your dates could help save you hundreds, especially when traveling as a family. Always make a point to look at the dates around your ideal fly day and see if you’re getting the best deal. In our experience, Wednesday is usually a decent day for flying.
Bonus Pro Tips:
Are you traveling with someone? Choosing seats can seem like an insignificant hassle, but remember that people aren’t usually very kind when they’re stressed, tired, and possibly dreading their next week. Make sure you and your family are surrounded by each other instead of strangers whenever possible.
Have a long layover? We’ve found that there is almost always an empty terminal somewhere in the airport. Even during the holidays, gates have peak and lull times. If you search, chances are you’ll find a nice quiet spot for a few hours.
- Add time to your ETA. Technology has come a long way and we love that you can punch in an address and your GPS/phone will tell you when you’ll arrive. Typically, those ETAs are fairly accurate, but adding millions of cars to the roads can dramatically affect your plans. It’s a good rule of thumb around holiday travel time to add about twenty minutes for every two hours of driving time. Check the weather and construction as well and consider that arriving awkwardly early is not as awful as arriving aggravatingly late. It’s safer, too.
- Arm your backpack with supplies. It’s incredible what a deck of cards can do to combat boredom. Car and plane rides alike are made better with a small form of entertainment. Our favorites are books, cards, sudoku, adult coloring books, and a few well thought out questions for your travel companions. There are also many games that you can play that don’t require anything but people. Brush up on a few of our favorites here.
Bonus Pro Tip:
In today’s world, “essentials” no longer mean fresh underwear and a toothbrush (though you would benefit from remembering to pack those in your backpack, too). Pack your chargers in your backpack and take advantage of plugs at rest stops, restaurants, empty airport terminals, etc… If you wear glasses and contacts, don’t forget to seal your contact case in a plastic bag before you put it in your backpack–the pressure of the airplane cabin can cause it to leak everywhere.
- Think outside the box. Everyone talks about being home for Christmas; and we get it, we think home is an absolutely lovely place to be. There’s something comforting about traditions and the warmth of it all. There’s also something grand about mixing it up every once in awhile and doing something no one else is doing for the holidays. We love National Parks and you might be surprised to find that most of the beloved summer getaways are open in winter, too! And if you’ve ever wanted to visit Death Valley–the holidays are the time to do it. It’s the perfect weather (not death-like) and the park’s slowest times are Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Book a customized trip with Nowak Tours and let us take care of all the details. Gather a group of your family or friends and truly enjoy the holidays with fun-filled trips and no stress about planning it. Everyone will rave about it and you just might usurp Santa. Get ready to laugh at photo books for years to come.
Last bonus pro tip for you: remember to be kind. Travel–especially holiday travel–can bring out the worst in anyone. It’s helpful to remember that the people you encounter are people with stresses, hopes, hurts, and dreams, too. You never know what they’re dealing with and choosing kindness as a response instead of anger can truly make this time worthy of being called the most wonderful time of the year.