Silver bells, Christmas trees, New year party and gifts to shop! So, before the festivities get underway, there are flights to catch, security lines to endure and delays to tolerate. With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re travelling abroad during the Christmas and New Year.
1. For procrastinators: Book last-minute
It’s advisable to book flights between 60 and 90 days before an anticipated date of departure. That ideal time-frame has now passed, leaving many fliers scrambling to find holiday fare deals. But all is not lost! Data shows that airlines this year were perhaps a bit too aggressive with pricing early on, leaving seats still to be filled. Lucky for procrastinator, flash sales are popping up left and right and the best is possibly yet to come. Start scanning various travel websites now, as early December bookers could save the most on holiday flights.
In an era of ever-increasing baggage fees, it’s best to show up at the airport with as little to check in as possible. Lucky for those with long wish lists, nearly everything nowadays can be found — and shipped — thanks to the glorious Internet. So it’s best if you travel light minus gifts, it also means less to get through security and less on your credit card.
3. Ship gifts
If you’ve found a gift at a great rate or a specialty item during your holiday shopping sprees, then of course seize the deal. But if it doesn’t fit in your carry-on, you may want to ship it via a courier company. Do the math a week before to see what will cost you less: a tracked package or an extra bag. If it’s the latter, remember to leave your gifts unwrapped so security can easily access
4. For air mile collectors: Save the miles
Miles get tricky around holidays, especially since Low Points seats for the most popular travel dates sell out very fast. There’s that, plus some airlines implement the never-popular blackout dates. Accumulated miles, whether through an airline or a credit card, are used most economically either when travel plans are booked early or travellers have flexibility with their itinerary. Keep in mind — save the points during holidays unless you snag a great deal.
5. Stay healthy: Invest in hand sanitiser
The most wonderful time of the year is also the most sniffly time of the year for many travellers. Keep that in mind before you head for the airport, and pack plenty of hand sanitisers to help fend off germs. There’s nothing worse than realising during ascent that you’re stuck in a cabin full of recycled air with a sickly seatmate. Fill your prescriptions, drink lots of water, wash your hands often — whatever it takes to guarantee your holidays will be spent both joyfully and in healthy way.
Flight delays are pretty much a guarantee this time of the year, whether it’s crowded airports, bad weather or mechanical problems causing them. There’s a way to plan ahead so that getting stuck behind infrequent fliers and families at airport security doesn’t cause anxiety. First, avoid connections if you can when booking, even if it means paying a little more. If a connection is a must, then ensure there’s a long enough layover in case your first flight is late to land. On the day of travel, get to the airport earlier, way earlier than you typically would. Worst-case scenario: You spend extra time with your Kindle at the departure gate or relaxing at the airport bar or can go shopping for light items like book or a a nice travel magazine. It’s also advisable to carry a good quality map along with you, and study it carefully, so at least you get an idea of the place you’re visiting.
7. Pack an empty suitcase
If the price is right, bringing an extra piece of luggage on your trip can be a frugal decision. Then, when it comes time to transporting the gifts you’ve received home, you’ll have an empty suitcase to fill. Either pack a fold-up duffel in your luggage or bring a separate bag if it means you won’t get hit with high-priced baggage fees. First, calculate what it will cost to ship your gifts home, then plan and pack accordingly.