‘Tis the season for gourds, football, and twinkly lights. Yes: We’re heading into the holiday season, where Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas all call for celebration and travel chaos. Whether people celebrate none or all of these holidays, travel will always be hectic this time of year.
Avoiding the busiest travel days is key to experiencing a less-hectic end to 2016, and we have the tips to hack your holiday travel effectively.
Know When to Go: The Best Times to Travel
There are a few key travel days to avoid at all costs during the holidays, along with some that make traveling less stressful. Typically, the Wednesday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend (so, November 23-27, 2016) is quite chaotic. Yet, there is a trick: If possible, travel on the holiday. If people can plan their trip and family affairs accordingly (who said Thanksgiving dinner has to start at noon?) flying on the actual holiday saves people headaches and some cash. Airports are noticeably less crowded, and there’s a reduced chance of an overbooked, delayed, or canceled flight.
This rule applies to Christmas time, too. The busiest day to travel is December 23 — Christmas Eve eve. If people can swing it, heading to the airport on the 24th or 25th is ideal. It’s also known that airports tend to be less hectic on December 27 as well.
As for New Year’s, December 30th is the busiest travel day, with the 31st and 1st being way less crazy. Popping some champagne and ringing in the new year in-flight is never a bad idea!
Another pro-tip for those who sleep well on planes is to book a red-eye. These flights tend to be more affordable and less crowded. It gives travelers more quality time with family and friends, too!
If it’s seemingly impossible to avoid traveling on especially busy days, there are some tactics to making the experience less stressful. Follow these tips to travel like a pro:
Use curbside check-in: If there’s one thing to avoid in airports, it’s the lines to check bags. However, many people ignore the short curbside check-in line and head straight inside. Take note and check luggage outside.
Get an app: Most airlines have an app that allows passengers to download their boarding tickets right to their phone. Doing this eliminates the hassle of printing out boarding tickets or picking them up at the airport counter. This is especially useful for those with only a carry-on who can head straight to security!
Purchase wisely. If there’s one sure way to reduce holiday travel stress, it’s getting a good deal. Recent research says to book on Sundays or Tuesdays, and to try and book an exact 54 days before a domestic trip. A cheap flight will make any long line seem worth it.
These tips will help any traveler hack their holiday. Whether it’s avoiding the worst days to travel altogether, finding the best deal, or even the best place to check luggage, one (or all!) of these tips will make the holidays more cheerful for any globetrotter.