The holiday season is kicking off later this month, and travel plans are coming together for millions of Americans and Angelenos alike. Travel during the holidays can be a nightmarish and expensive ordeal. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of essential holiday travel hacks to make visiting friends and family a breeze.
Find Cheap Flights
Cheap airline flights can be tough to find any time of the year, but the holiday season is particularly difficult for travelers. Make sure to look for tickets on more than one search engine, such as Skyscanner, Momondo and AirFare Watchdog, as all these often catch error fares and short-term sales. Also make sure to search from a private browser or incognito tab. Some airlines will slip cookies into your web searches, and manipulate flight prices based on what you’ve already seen.
Ditch the Gifts
If you’re flying home for the holidays, don’t make the mistake of traveling with any gifts for the folks. Instead, have them mailed if you already have the item, or set up Amazon to deliver once you arrive. You may run the risk of having presents prematurely opened, but the alternative is worse. You’ll want to pack light for holiday travel, and lugging presents to the airport could result in extra baggage fees.
Know Your Traffic Situation
You might be thinking it’s smarter to set out on the road instead of to the airport, but that’s not always the case. Holiday traffic can often turn freeways into virtual parking lots, particularly if you leave immediately after work or on the weekend. You’ll want to keep an eye on Google Maps and Waze alike for real-time traffic information, and also buy any toll road passes you might need. Make sure to leave at the best time to get out of the city, too. Early morning or late night is usually best for that.
Keep Your Car Running
While you’re at it, take your car to the mechanic before a long drive to your holiday hangout. A tune-up or oil change might bite into your travel budget, but it’s guaranteed to be cheaper than a long-distance tow during peak travel season. Few things ruin a vacation quite like finally making it out of the city and seeing your “Check Engine” light come on. To make sure you have all your bases covered, pick up an American Automobile Association membership at least a week before you leave, so you can claim up to 200 free miles of tow in a worst-case scenario.
No matter which way you travel, make sure not to let stress get the better of you. That’s not just for your sake, either. Holiday season can be the most stressful time of the year for airline employees and other members of the travel industry. A good attitude can make someone’s day or prevent them from giving you less-than-stellar service.