‘Tis the season to travel. It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost here.
The 2022 holiday travel season is likely to be a busy one. Passengers are gearing up for potential flight delays and cancellations, baggage issues, staff shortages, price hikes, and long security lines.
Here are some tips that can help you avoid some common holiday travel concerns and get you to your destination on time, without (too much) stress.
The price of a plane ticket is already high and increasing by the day. So, if you’re looking for the best deal on a flight for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might want to buy now.
Passenger numbers are up as more Americans look to get away after staying home the past two years because of the pandemic. With demand up, that pushes prices up.
According to Hopper, those traveling this Thanksgiving can expect to pay 43 percent more than last year. And flights for Christmas are already averaging 39 percent higher than in 2021. So, you will likely find the best deals if you book sooner rather than later.
Avoid Busy Travel Days
The day before and after Thanksgiving or Christmas tend to be the busiest for travel. Again, with high demand for these flights, prices may also be higher.
So, if you’re looking to pay less and avoid crowds, possibly travel on Thanksgiving or Christmas. If that doesn’t work for you, consider traveling several days before and after the holiday.
Give Yourself Room to Breathe
Timing matters. As flight delays continue to trouble the airlines, it’s best to book a direct flight. However, direct can be more expensive, so if a layover is necessary, give yourself some breathing room.
Make sure there is enough time between your flights, so if your first flight is delayed, you will still have time to make your connection. This also applies if you’re planning a cruise for the holidays. Be sure to book a flight that lands well before the cruise is set to depart. If possible, fly in the day before.
You can expect crowds at the airport around the holidays, so check-in and security lines may be long. Get to the airport early, so you don’t miss your flight.
Pack Like a Pro
Having your luggage lost or delayed is a real possibility. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than one million bags were mishandled by airlines between January and June 2022. That’s up from 629,000 in 2021.
So, if you’re traveling this holiday season you may want to avoid checking your bags, especially if you’re traveling with presents. Try and fit everything into a carry-on to ensure your belongings and gifts make it to your destination.
If packing light just isn’t for you, and you need to check a bag, consider throwing in a tracking device. This won’t get your bags back to you any faster, but it can provide some peace of mind knowing exactly where your luggage is located.
Plan for the Worst
Even if you book early, travel on “off-days,” give yourself enough time, and pack only a carry-on, there is still plenty that could go wrong while traveling this holiday season. So, while hoping for the best is great and all, be sure to also plan for the worst.
Before heading to the airport, check to make sure your flight is on time. Download that airline’s app or have the customer service number programmed into your phone just in case you need to rebook a flight. It’s also important to read the cancellation and delay policies for your airline to know your rights. Also, consider travel insurance.
Travel insurance, like the Atlas Journey plans from WorldTrips, can address or provide reimbursement for most of the issues you may face while traveling. Including:
— A trip is canceled or delayed for reasons out of your control
—Your baggage is delayed, lost, stolen, or damaged
—You could get sick or hurt and need medical treatment
There is even a coverage option known as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) that could allow you to cancel a trip for something other than a covered reason – like fear or unwillingness to travel because it’s going to cost too much. CFAR may provide reimbursement (often 50 to 75 percent) for payments made toward a trip if you cancel. However, this is a time-sensitive benefit and there are eligibility requirements.
The holidays are stressful enough, without adding in the travel factor. While you can’t prevent things like crowds, flight delays, or lost luggage, you can set yourself up for success. Buy your plane ticket early, travel on less popular days, give yourself plenty of time to make a flight, pack only a carry-on, and most importantly, be as prepared as possible if something goes wrong.