The holiday season is upon us and many of you are likely making plans to visit loved ones both near and far. However, as nice as it is to get away and see loved ones during the holidays, the holiday travel season can be extremely busy and can make traveling during this time extremely stressful. If you aren’t careful, it can quickly ruin your holidays and leave you wishing you would have just stayed home.
In this article, I am going to review with you some of the top things you should not do when traveling during the busy holiday season. By avoiding these mistakes that travelers sometimes make, you can make sure that your holiday travels are more stress-free so that you can enjoy time with family instead of sitting in an airport or breaking the bank in order to travel.
Be Inflexible with Travel Plans
One of the worst things you can do when traveling during the holiday season is refuse to be flexible with your plans. The holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and if you are inflexible with your schedule it can result in high travel costs, rushed itineraries, and loads of added stress for you and your family.
Instead, be flexible with your travel plans. Instead of locking into certain dates for your travel, take a look at various options for flights. Also, don’t just focus on flying to your destination. Sometimes you will find some really great travel deals on trains or rental cars. You are going to want to weigh the costs and benefits for all of the travel decisions that you have to make, but if you are inflexible your options will be much more limited.
Putting Off Booking Flights
If you want to spend a ton of money when traveling, then when you book your flights for your travel really doesn’t matter. However, if you are like most people and want to keep your travel costs to a minimum, then when you book your flights is a really big deal. You should be looking to book your flights at least a month in advance, but preferably at least a few months prior to when you are going to be traveling. Not only will flights be much cheaper then, but you will also have more options to choose from.
I really recommend using the Hopper App (see above) to monitor flight prices. With this app, you can look at the past history for flight prices on certain days to see which dates will be cheapest for you to fly. Then, you can add your flight to the Hopper App and it will tell you if you can expect to find a better deal by waiting. The app will then notify you of prices changes for flights for your trip so that you don’t have to periodically keep searching. If you use this app and start your search early enough, you can find some really great deals on flights.
Flying on the Wrong Days
Another travel mistake that you can make during the holidays that can really put a dent in your wallet is traveling on the wrong days. It is no secret that airfare costs are more expensive than they are during mid-week. If you decide to book your flights for travel on a weekend, you can expect to pay considerably more for your flights than if you book your airfare for travel during the week.
This gets back to my first point on being flexible with your travel plans. When you search for flights, start by looking for flights on the ideal dates you would like to travel. If those flights are too expensive, you can move your travel dates around to find cheaper airfare. I would start by looking at mid-week flights as those will typically be the cheapest.
Booking Holidays in Chronological Order
When it comes to holiday travel costs, not all holidays are equal. If you treat them as such and book your travel plans in chronological order by holiday, then you might end up paying more money for travel than you should have. According to Hopper.com, fares for flights during Christmas tend to rise more steadily than flight prices during Thanksgiving. Instead, flight prices during Thanksgiving will typically rise slowly and then see sharp increases as Thanksgiving approaches.
Therefore, if you know that you will be traveling during both Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is better to make your travel plans for Christmas first and then worry about booking your travel arrangements for Thanksgiving after. This way you will be sure to lock in those great airfare prices for your Christmas travel early and still have plenty of time to find deals on Thanksgiving airfare.
Packing More Than You Need
When we travel, especially over the holidays, it is natural to want to make sure that we have everything that we need. However, this instinct to be prepared can actually work against us if we don’t practice moderation. People tend to forget that everything they pack with them when they travel needs to be lugged around with them, transported with them, and watched over as they travel.
Instead of over-packing when you travel during the holidays, make sure you take the time to think about what you will really need and what you can do without. Also, if something can be affordably purchased or rented at your destination, or borrowed from a loved one, then that might be a better option.
For instance, if you are planning on going skiing or ice skating at your destination, then you might want to consider renting. If you are planning on going on a sleigh ride in the cold, then you might want to ask the friends or family you are staying with if they have extra winter gear to wear before packing your own. This can not only save you time and money, but it will also save your back from the ache of having to lug this stuff around.
Traveling With Presents
If you are traveling over the holidays and have gifts that you need to give, an easy mistake to avoid is traveling with those presents. Unless the presents you have are light and small, they may require their own bag or bags to transport them. Not only can it be costly to check these extra bags on a flight, but you also have to carry those bags around with you when you travel and worry about the contents getting damaged.
Instead of traveling with the presents, it may make more sense to have the presents shipped ahead of time. The ideal method would be to have the presents shipped to your destination when you purchase them (if you purchase them online). Not only will this save you the hassle of having to transport the presents, but if you get free shipping when you order the gifts it can also save you a ton of money as well. All you will need to have is someone at your destination to receive the packages which you can wrap once you arrive.
Forgetting to Purchase Travel Insurance
A big mistake that some travelers make when they travel during the holiday season is forgetting to purchase travel insurance. Plans change and unforeseen happen, especially during the busy travel season. If you have travel insurance, you are covered in case you change your plans or something comes up. If you don’t have travel insurance, you could be footing the bill for a trip you don’t even take. I know budgets are tight around the holidays, but spending a little bit more on insurance could save you from a big headache down the line.
Not Being Ready for the Security Line
If you think airport security lines are bad throughout the rest of the year, imagine how bad they are during one of the busiest travel times of the year. Lines can be long and stress levels can be high. Before you get to the airport, it is always a good idea to be prepared. Make sure you don’t have any prohibited items in your carry-on luggage, have your identification and boarding pass ready, and have your belongings ready to go thru the X-Ray machine. Not only will you save yourself time and headache, but you will save your fellow travelers time and headaches as well.
Not Leaving Yourself Enough Time
Speaking of time and long security lines, another mistake that travelers tend to make when traveling around the holiday season is to not leave themselves enough time when traveling. If you are expecting to breeze thru ticketing and security as fast as you typically do, or drive out of town as fast as you normally can, then you might be in for a rude awakening.
Save yourself the stress and make sure you leave yourself enough time when traveling during the holidays. I would plan on leaving yourself at least an extra hour if you are flying and at least another hour if you are planning on driving out of town. That way, if you run into long ticketing or security lines, or there is bad traffic on your way out of town, you won’t be stressed out about missing a flight or arriving at your destination late.
Not Charging Electronics
In the midst of getting everything planned and organized and everyone out the door for your holiday travels, it is easy to overlook something as simple as having your electronics charged. This could end up being a big issue when you are traveling over the holiday, especially if you show up at the airport with a dead phone. I always like to charge my electronics the night before I travel to make sure all of my electronics are charged. That way, I don’t have to stress out about it the day I travel.