Even though it’s shining outside and still rarely need a sweater, the holidays will be here before we know it. Below are our seven travel tips for how to prepare now and feel more organized before the holiday stress settles in.
7 actions to take now before the holiday travel madness
- Buy tickets now. Right now. I will wait…If you are traveling for Thanksgiving and have yet to purchase plane tickets, you are likely going to pay a higher price than if you booked a few weeks ago. According to FareCompare.com, think of it like adding an additional $2 per day that you don’t book on top of the already existing high prices. As we enter November, change that to an additional $4 per day. Now is the perfect time to book for Christmas or New Years plans, but book it ASAP!
- Decide now if you will be checking baggage or taking a carry-on. Taking your luggage with you on the plane often simplifies travel. No waiting at the check desk or baggage claim always saves time. But will be you toting presents with you? What about on the way back? Depending on the airline, you may be charged for checking a bag or multiple bags. If you are, it’s cheaper to pay ahead of time than when you arrive at the airport.
- Sign up for TSA pre-check. This may be the real lifesaver when you’re already late arriving to the airport, security lines are backed down auxiliary hallways and all you can do is mentally scream as you watch time pass on the phone you’re clenching in your sweaty hands. Admit it, we’ve all been there. We all know traveling during the holidays sucks, but we do it anyway. Because you are pre-approved by a TSA agent, you will skip the lines and move passed security to your gate. There is a non-refundable $85 fee, but it is good for five years. To begin the process you will need to fill out a form on the TSA website, and And then schedule a 10 minute appointment with a TSA agent for the background check. The process takes a few weeks overall, so begin now.
- Download travel apps, like TripIt. With all of the stress around the holidays, take the opportunity of being organized where you can. TripIt is a free app that organizes your travel itinerary and information all in one place. It will send you alerts and updates on your flight. With their Pro features, you can look for better seats, track rewards and connect with LoungeBuddy. Downloading the individual airline apps are helpful as well for up-to-date flight info and check in status.
- Follow airlines on social media and have contact information readily available. In case you are stuck in an airport with a delayed or cancelled flight, its best to be ready in a moments notice to change flights. Before you leave, find and save customer service numbers and airlines social media accounts. Twitter has become a fast-paced customer service tool for most airlines. You could possibly be re-booked on a new flight through and agent on Twitter before the first person in the long line at the airport kiosk gets a seat. Have all of this readily available will give you the head start you need should the situation arise.
- Connect your Marriott-Starwood membership account. In case you didn’t hear, Marriott International recently merged with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, creating the world’s largest hotel company. The hotels under this large umbrella includes Residence Inn, Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, Courtyard and many, many more. As part of the merger, Marriott decided to combine the pre-existing reward memberships of both Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs. Now, if you previously had a membership on Starwood Preferred Loyalty , you must connect them through Marriott’s website. Or, if you haven’t signed up for this free membership- what the heck you doing?? This is the largest hotel company in the world! At some point you will encounter a related hotel and can accrue points to be used for future hotel stays, flights, or actually cool events. Like did you know you can bid your points on a stay in Washington D.C. and attend the presidential inauguration? Crazy, right?
- Make arrangements for pets, plants, etc. for when you are out of town. This is a pretty basic tip, but one often overlooked. Others will be leaving town too, it’s better to get a good idea of who will be around to water your fragile orchid for a week, or take care of fluffy while you are out of town.