Organizing For Stress-Less Holiday Travel

The holidays are upon us, which means tens of millions of Americans will soon be taking to the skies, rails and roads.

An estimated 41 million people took a trip last Thanksgiving, even with record gas and fare prices. With airfare costs expected to be down between 10% – 25%, we may see up to 50 million people traveling this holiday season. If you’re planning on being one of them, you can avoid the stress and headaches by organizing your travel plans now – before the big crunch.

Sarah on “Plan Ahead to Enable Travel on Off Days”

“It’s not surprising that the most popular travel days will be both the most crowded and stressful as well as the most expensive. This year the most popular days to travel for both Thanksgiving and Christmas are a Wednesday departure and Sunday return. Plan ahead now to shift your travel plans by a day or two around those key dates. You’ll save both money and sanity. Step one: do a little research now to find and hold the least expensive trip itinerary. Step two: talk to your supervisor or boss about any days you will need off now before things get hectic.”

Alicia on “Pack Smart”

“Whether you’re packing up the car and driving to your destination or flying there, you can make your budget stretch farther by packing lightly. Now more than ever, airlines are charging for the mere privilege of checking a bag and are imposing hefty penalties for heavy baggage. Take the time to edit your outfits once you’ve laid out your clothes but before you’ve put them in your suitcase. Limit yourself to two, or max – three, pairs of shoes, pick basic items from your wardrobe that you can mix and match.”

Here are a few more tips for traveling sanely and smartly this holiday season:

1. Shop Online & Ship Presents Free

The word on the street is that the majority of online retailers will be offering free shipping this holiday season. Rather than bringing gifts with you when you travel, buy them online and have them shipped to your destination for free.

2. Leave Early

Generally speaking airports are far less congested very early or late in the day. If you’re flying and can stomach getting up at the crack of dawn, you’re much more likely to get out on time as delays are far less likely. The same holds true for driving. If you’re more of a night owl, the traffic at airports and on the roads slows down significantly after 8pm or 9pm.

3. Cash In Points

One of the best ways to get to your desired destination without busting your budget is to use credit card points you have accumulated all year long (or over multiple years). Credit card companies have so many travel partners, from rental cars to airlines, you can most likely find some way to reduce the cost of your trip by using those points you have earned but probably don’t think about using. One caveat, if you are using them for airline tickets, plan ahead so that you have the flexibility to travel around blackout dates.