10 ways to survive holiday travel

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10 ways to survive holiday travel
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More travelers are expected in the skies this holiday season. According to AirfareWatchDog.com, 25% more passengers plan to head to the airports this year during the holidays than last year.

Read more: Discount airline announces ‘child-free’ zones

How to limit your stress during holiday travel

For those who are feeling stressed about the idea of long lines and potential delays, here’s some travel tips from AirfareWatchDog founder George Hobica.

  • If you’re picky, book now. If seat location, departure time and non-stop availability are important to you, book sooner rather than later. The most desirable flights always sell out first, leaving only middle seats near the lavatory, red-eye flights or 5 A.M. departures.
  • Fly on holidays. You can always find cheaper flights if you fly right on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. You’ll beat the crowds and still make it in time for dinner!
  • Investigate package deals. Some air/hotel packages offer cheaper airfares than those you’ll find by searching for airfares alone.
  • Fly somewhere cheap. If you’re not obligated to visit family over the holidays, you’re in luck! Try flying somewhere cheaper, where there’s a lot of airline competition. Choosing routes flown by Spirit and Frontier, for example, will typically be cheaper for holiday travel than routes where those airlines don’t compete, resulting in some surprisingly reasonable fares.
  • If all else fails, leave it to the last minute. If you’ve searched for holiday airfares ahead of time and cringed at the prices, search again a few weeks before the holidays to see what’s left in the ‘bargain bin.’ Airlines put remaining seats on sale last minute (but again, they’ll be the worst seats and schedules).

‘Airfarewatchdog analysis has determined that airfares for holiday travel, on average, are quite a bit lower than several years ago, which would explain why more people are flying this season. As always, it’ll be cheaper to fly on Thanksgiving Day and return on the Saturday immediately after, and December 25 and January 1 are typically the cheapest days to travel as well,’ says Hobica.

Jetsetter Senior Editor Clara Sedlak also offers travelers some tips:

  • Go to the city. Hotel demand in the U.S. is at an all-time high this year, so rates overall are up. However, in many destinations—particularly cities—people often leave to see family elsewhere, so there are deals to be had.
  • If you see a good hotel deal, don’t wait. Unlike airfares, you can usually cancel hotel bookings and reserve a different hotel—or book the same hotel at a lower price through a different website. Once you’ve reserved your room, keep your eyes peeled with a view to re-book at a better price.
  • Be flexible. Compare different date ranges for the best hotel rates. Rates can drop dramatically from one weekend to the next. A room at a boutique hotel in Austin during Austin City Limits (September 30–October 2), for example, can be up to twice as much as one in late October.
  • Book early. If you’re planning to visit a leisure hotel or resort during high season, book at least three to six months prior to your stay. Looking last minute? You’re more likely to find a deal at a business hotel. Properties that have large business clientele can be quiet (with large discounts) on weekends.
  • Make personal contact. Once you’ve booked your stay, give the hotel a call. You never know what freebie they might throw in, from a late checkout to an upgrade if available.

Do you have a travel tip? Share it in the comments section below.

Read more: Want the lowest holiday airfares? Book by these dates!

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Julie Loffredi About the author:
Julie Loffredi is an award winning journalist and correspondent. She writes about travel tips for a variety of publications and is a contributor at travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip. You can follow her on Twitter @julieloffredi or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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