Tips and tricks for handling holiday travel

It may be too early to talk about gift-giving, but when heading home for the holidays, it pays to be proactive.

© Robert Wilson, Adobe Stock

We are already on the brink of another holiday season, and while we can’t help how quickly it creeps up on us, we can try our best to be prepared. With tips on when and how to book, the following advice may alleviate your typical holiday travel pains.

Book flights before November

They say that timing is everything, and that old adage definitely applies to ordering plane tickets. If you’re trying to make it in to a Thanksgiving dinner, it is suggested that you order sometime in October, by the Oct. 31 at the latest. According to a New York Times interview with a chief data scientist at Hopper, prices start to increase by $10 per day as November approaches. Looking ahead to December’s festivities, according to Hopper’s historical data it’s best to book 83 days before departure.

Know your airports

The nearest airport isn’t necessarily the best airport. There’s something to be said about proximity, but cheaper flights may be available at airports only a few more miles away. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with drop-off and pick-up places in the event you arrive late the day of your trip.

Take advantage of package deals

When your trip is more than a weekend getaway, some package deals will allow you to pay a flat rate for airfare, car rentals and hotel reservations. Packages are competitive, so do your research before making anything official. Some helpful agents are Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets, Last Minute Travel and Hotwire.

Pack light

Keeping a simply stocked suitcase is a struggle for the vast majority of travelers, but you’ll want to avoid tacking on another expense to your budget the day of if your bag is beyond the weight limit. Know what you can and can’t bring so that you don’t slow down security, leaving you with ample time to get to your gate.

Travel either early or late in the day

There are only two times that are the best times to travel during the holidays, and that’s in the wee hours of the morning or late at night. It is said that delays are less likely in the morning, and in afternoons or late nights the airport is usually clear. You might not be able to sleep in and you may have to arrange for an after-dark pickup, but avoiding midday madness is a pretty fair trade-off.

Below are some apps for those that like to make mobile plans:

Google Flights
A flight-booking search engine, Google Flights helps users purchase tickets through third-party suppliers.

Hopper is a mobile app that recommends the best time to purchase tickets and assists users with booking flights.

Packpoint suggests items travelers should pack based upon their destination, the weather and the events that they have planned.

Priceline will aid travelers in locating cars, flights, packages and cruises at discounted prices.

This app helps its users find transportation to and from any place in the world—not just from Rome to Rio, as its name may suggest.

Travelers can search for and compare flights on this app, which also sends out price alerts.