The holidays are officially upon us, and for many people, that means it’s time to travel. Some of you are probably reading this right now from the comfort of your home and already got through the struggle of traveling. If so, I am extremely jealous. Drink some hot cocoa for me. For the others who are last-minute planners and maybe haven’t booked a flight or started packing yet (I’m not judging), now is crunch time, which means you’re going to want to get strategic. Whether it’s finding a cheap flight, avoiding traffic, or packing as much as possible without paying excessive baggage fees, we’ve got you covered with the best holiday travel hacks.
1. Finding The Best Days To Fly
According to a report by Bloomberg, the best days of the week to find flight deals are Thursday and Monday. Unsurprisingly, the most expensive day of the week to fly is Sunday. However, this conflicts with some of the data surrounding the best dates to fly for the holidays, which are Dec. 17 to Dec. 20 (Dec. 17 is a Sunday). Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are also inexpensive dates to fly, but of course, that comes with the cost of spending some of your holiday flying. If that doesn’t bother you, definitely think about scheduling a flight for one of these days to save some cash.
2. Checking Airport Security Lines
Booking your flight is only half the battle. There are about a million other things that can get in your way when traveling, but thankfully, there are ways to combat them. One of the biggest obstacles is airport security lines, which can get ridiculously long during the holidays. But when you log on to apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa and fill in your city, state, airline, airport name, or airport code, you can check and see how the lines are looking. There’s also the KAYAK app and WhatsBusy to help you see updates in real time.
3. Getting To The Airport
Okay, you’ve checked out the security lines, but what else should you consider before you decide when to get to the airport? Generally speaking, TSA recommends arriving at least two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international flights. If the airport you’re flying out of is a particularly busy one, like LAX or ATL, budget a bit more time than the recommended guidelines. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when family time and holiday cheer are at stake. Make sure to factor in your travel time to the airport, as well, accounting for potential traffic jams or weather delays.
Knowing what to pack and how to pack it can also help you save time and money when traveling. By reading up on your airline’s baggage regulations, you can avoid getting hit with extra fees or having to throw out a full-sized bottle of dry shampoo (we’ve all been there). The most important things to look into are size limits for carry ons and prohibited items. Having to undergo an extra baggage search because of a prohibited item could be the difference between making and missing your flight.
5. Non-Plane Options
If you’re looking to save even money, consider looking into non-flying travel options. The Wanderu app allows you to compare all of your ground transportation options for traveling. So if you’re not feeling the hassle of air travel, this is definitely an option. You’ll still want to be cautious when booking, though. Bus carriers use by-demand pricing, so prices start out low — but as the bus fills up, prices naturally increase. If ground transportation is an option for you, make sure to book soon.
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