The Best Tips for Traveling at the Holidays

The holidays are HERE! I hope you’re as excited as I am, and that there are some travels coming for you this season! Since it may have been a while since some of my readers have traveled, I thought a few tips about traveling at the holidays, in particular, might be helpful. So grab your gifts and your favorite piece of luggage, and get packing!

Money Saving Tips

Because less money spent on trips means more money for incredible gifts (that you pick up in your travels throughout the year)!

Did you know you can save literally hundreds of dollars by traveling on a holiday, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, as opposed to the day or two before? It’s true! I know not everyone has that kind of flexibility or wants to travel on the holiday, but if you can, you could save (and potentially buy another plane ticket to somewhere exotic!). You’ll also have lower crowds to contend with, which is another huge plus!

Or maybe you can go several days before the holiday. Can you take off the whole week before Christmas instead of the week after? If so, you could also see big savings and fewer crowds. Even if you can’t make big swings one way or the other, simply avoiding the most popular travel days (generally two days before Thanksgiving, or the last weekday before Christmas Eve), could help you out.

If you’re planning to fly, be sure to check prices for the days before and after your ideal travel dates, just in case!

Even Elfette likes to find a deal!
Also helpful: How to Prepare for Your First Flight Since the Pandemic Started

Book Your Flights Early

Okay, I realize this may be too late for you to do this year, but keep it in mind for next year! Generally, prices are pretty stable more than six weeks out from your travel date, and prices increase the closer you get to your departure. Tuesdays are generally the cheapest day of the week to purchase your ticket.

Knowing the generalities above will be helpful, but it’s always smart to check and keep an eye out! Sometimes prices will unexpectedly drop, and sometimes you’ll find an amazing deal six months out! If you know by June where you’ll be spending Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s worth looking at prices throughout the year.

You never know when you’ll find the best flight deal!
This is what you really want: How to Find Cheap Flights

Consider Using Points and Miles

This is an excellent points and miles strategy. It’s fun to use your hoarded credit card points, airline miles, and hotel rewards for an exotic vacation, but those earnings might be better used for travel during the most expensive time of the year–the holidays! I have entire posts dedicated to Using Credit Card Points, as well as Earning and Using Airline Miles, and a complete Guide to Hotel Rewards! (Hint: Hotel Loyalty is Not Always Best!) Not playing the credit card game yet? Here’s What to Consider When Choosing a Travel Rewards Credit Card.

Think through your points strategy!
Get even more tips on my dedicated Saving and Money Page!

Packing Tips

Packing matters, whether you pack light or leave nothing behind!

Be Careful What You Wrap

The TSA recommends that you NOT wrap any of your gifts before you fly. Why? Because, while TSA scanners can kind of see through luggage and wrapping paper, somtimes things look suspicious. In short, they might have to unwrap your gorgeous packages. And while this might provide delight to your friendly TSA agent the first time, he or she might get tired of it. Consider saving gift wrapping for your arrival!

Everyone loves to unwrap their own gifts… not so much someone else’s!

Make Sure Gifts are Packable

That adorable cheese board and knife set you picked up from an artisan? That’s better packed in your checked luggage. The local jams and jellies you’re taking home to your family? Not okay in your carry-on! Make sure that whatever you’re packing is packed appropriately, even if it’s an absolutely innocent gift!

Would you believe I got all of these to their destination in my carry-on? It’s true!
More packing hacks, tips, and tricks on my Packing Page!

Travel Day Tips

Give Yourself Extra Time to Get to the Airport

Holidays mean more people in the skies and on the roads! That means it’s a good idea to give yourself extra time to get to the airport. Whether you’re taking public transportation, driving, summoning a ride share, or catching a ride with someone else, I recommend giving yourself more time than usual to get to the airport. No one wants to pull up to the departures area just as their plane is taking off!

Give yourself extra drive time on your way to the airport!
Also helpful: Tips for Traveling in Winter

Give Yourself Extra Airport Time

I know, I know, there’s the possibility you’ll have an extra hour to kill while you wait at your gate. So what? Bring a book! Give yourself an extra 30-60 minutes to get through security and get to your gate, especially if you can’t (or don’t want to) avoid traveling on peak holiday travel days.

Don’t forget to bring a book!
Always be prepared: What to Do If You Miss Your Flight

Want more? My best flying tips are on my dedicated Air Travel Page, and I have some winter-specific info on my Travel Tips Page, too!

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