DALLAS (CBS11) – A record number of people, more than a 100,000,000 Americans, are expected to travel for the holidays.
That means more people on the roads, more people at the airports, and potentially more headaches.
That is unless you can avoid our top five holiday travel mistakes.
Waiting to check in at the airport – Avoid the long lines at the airlines’ ticket counters by checking-in online. Every major airline these days has its own smartphone app that allows you to check-in remotely.
If you haven’t reserved a seat, you’ll want check-in as close to 24-hours before your flight as possible in order to get the best available seat.
Smartphone apps such as GateGuru and MyTSA provided estimated wait times at security checkpoints.
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, also recommends this time of year to get to the airport a little earlier.
“It’s going to be a little bit crazy at the airports,” he said. “TSA sometimes doesn’t have the right number of people at each checkpoint so the lines can get long.”
Not planning ahead for gifts – Even if you put your wrapped gifts in your check-in luggage, when you reach your destination you may still find that a TSA agent has ripped open your gift. It’s best to leave all gifts unwrapped when flying.
Also, leave enough extra space in your bags for gifts you might receive.
One popular gift this year you should considering shipping rather than trying to travel with is the hoover board.
“You got to be careful this year,” Seaney said. “Hoover boards are being banned on certain flights and airlines… It’s because of the batteries, like laptops four to five years ago that were catching on fire.”
Assuming hotel prices are too expensive- In cities like New York, Orlando, and especially resort towns; hotel prices significantly increase the week of Christmas.
However, in business cities, like Chicago, prices actually are down.
Even in warm weather cities, like Los Angeles and San Diego, according to Trivago, hotel prices are 30% cheaper the week of Christmas than in the summer.
Not planning your drive – Starting down the road without a plan is a good way to find yourself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. You may want to consider leaving in the middle of the day or late at night to avoid high traffic peak times. Using smartphone apps, like Waze, can help with real-time traffic calculations.
Flying at the wrong time – Chances of your flight being delayed or cancelled go up significantly the later you fly in the day. This is especially true during the holidays when bad weather can have a ripple effect across the country. If possible book your flight for first thing in the morning.
As for the cheapest days to fly in the next two weeks, FareCompare’s airfare data analysis shows departing on Christmas Day and returning Tuesday, December 29th are the best deals.
“There are really no great deals during the holidays,” Seaney said. “It’s really about getting a better bad deal.”
For Christmas departures (cheapest to more expensive) source: FareCompare.com
• Friday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day)
• Tuesday, Dec. 22
• Wednesday, Dec. 23
• Thursday, Dec. 24
For Christmas returns (cheapest to more expensive)
• Tuesday, Dec. 29
• Wednesday, Dec. 30
• Monday, Dec. 28
• Saturday, Dec. 26
• Sunday, Dec. 27
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