It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re one of the 100 million Americans who travels during the holiday season, this time of year may not seem so bright. For many people, holiday travel can be both a stressful experience and a financial burden.
The good news is, traveling (even during the busiest season) doesn’t have to turn your vacation into an experience you’d rather forget. Follow these tips to keep your holiday memories merry and bright:
The number one stress factor for traveling during major holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas is (you guessed it): price. Whether you’re traveling by plane or train, ticket prices tend to skyrocket this time of year.
So, when is the best time to buy? Right now. Unlike many other travel times, when you’ll find a sweet price spot about six weeks prior to your travel date, holiday prices usually only increase the closer the dates become.
Do: Shop Around
Just because the best time to buy is now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around for the best possible deal. Flight prices can vary from site to site and airline to airline, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Comparing prices on multiple websites can be an exhausting and fruitless experience, but when you use a discount site like Savings.com, you can comb through a list of promotions and deals that couponing experts have already found for you, all in one place.
Even if you’re planning on checking bags, make sure you’re not taking up precious suitcase square-footage with things you can either purchase at (or ship to) your final destination. Items like baby diapers and excess snacks can be purchased at any local store once you arrive, leaving you more room to pack the essentials—as well as any gifts you might be bringing with you.
Do: Make a Game Plan
If the process of travel itself gives you anxiety, make sure you have a solid plan in place. Know where your layovers are if you have them, and book your flights with plenty of time between departures to allow for unplanned delays.
Taking a moment to make day-of travel preparations, as well, will mean that you actually remember to pack snacks and in-flight entertainment for the kids. Maybe this year will be the year you don’t forget to pack your earbuds and that extra pair of socks.
The holiday season is not the time for an excessive itinerary, and there’s no way to guarantee a perfect day of travel. You can do your best to make sure you don’t forget anything by using a checklist app on your phone, but don’t try to plan out every second of your travel experience.
Trying to stick to a strict schedule might do more harm than good. Remember, it’s the holidays: the season for rest and relaxation.
Do: Enjoy Your Time
What’s the key to a truly great holiday travel experience? An open mind and a cheerful spirit. Life happens and things might go wrong. Your flights might be delayed or weather could be awful or your luggage might not make it to your final destination—but worrying about the “what-ifs” of travel horror stories won’t help anything.
Try to make the most of your travel experiences and enjoy the memories you make on the way to and from your destination, not just the memories you’ll make while you’re there. When you save money on your flights, plan what you can and accept the rest, you’ll be on your way to truly enjoying traveling this holiday season.