Flying during the holidays is not exactly a joyous experience. Consumers who have waited until the last minute to make their reservations may encounter scheduling and pricing hassles that dampen the holiday mood. There are, however, some ways to minimize holiday travel stress. Your Better Business Bureau has advice for travelers who must make their trek without the aid of magical reindeer.
Remember these holiday flying tips
Airlines begin hiking fares after Halloween and that means you may already encounter an unexpectedly high ticket price. As time goes by the chance of a fare reduction is lessened. If you can find a fare that fits your budget, book the flight now. But consider these tips that can make things easier:
• Earliest flights are less likely to get delayed. Later in the day, statistically, chances are higher for cancellations and delays.
• Look for nonstop flights whenever possible. Airports will be crowded and missed connections due to delays are always possible.
• Be open to flying into alternate airports in your destination’s area. They can be cheaper.
• Flexibility will help. A day or two can make a difference in price.
• Worst days to fly: the day before Thanksgiving, before Christmas and the day after each.
• Travelling with small children? Try to sit as close to the restroom as possible.
• Allow for long waits in airport security lines.
• Carry on bags if possible rather than checking them.
Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially for holiday flying. Check to see if your credit card offers something similar – sometimes they do for free. If not, think about buying it. Typically it costs 5 to 10 percent of the trip’s price. Remember: bad weather or unexpected illness can cause you to have to cancel or change your flight plans.
Grabbing the travel deal
For those looking for vacation deals during the holidays, or any other time, there are pros and cons to using travel deal websites. The savings can be significant for hotels, cruises and excursions. New deals are constantly being added and often highly-rated hotels and destinations are included.
The downside of travel deals is that you must read the fine print carefully. Airfare rarely is included in the advertised price. Voucher prices don’t include taxes and other fees. Watch for expiration dates, cancellation fees, baggage fees and blackout travel dates.
Miscellaneous travel tips
It can sometimes be cheaper to rent your car at an off-airport or small rental agency. Away from airport property they are not subject to the same taxes and fees. Small agencies can be more flexible with pricing and often have more discounts than the big firms.
Lodging can be cheaper at hotels outside of a city’s center, with extra perks and amenities. It may even be the case that you have a slight advantage by waiting until the last minute to book your room when staying during the holidays. Hotels may offer discounts to fill the empty rooms, as so many travelers stay with their families at that time. Check for reviews of whatever hotels or car rental agencies you are considering at bbb.org.
Wait to post on social media. We all like to share our vacation adventures with friends and family, but wait until you get back from your trip. Giving too much detail about when you will be away, and your home will be empty, could attract thieves.
These tips may make the chore of holiday travel at least a bit easier. If you have further questions regarding the subject, contact your BBB at (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbb.org.