The official date of the Christmas Season starting can be of debate at times. However, it is once you get into December and school holidays progressively start for students that travel gets a little more hectic. The one thing which most people will likely agree on is this time of year can be a problematic time for planning a trip.
Christmas it also the time that many people like to travel and unite with family to celebrate the season. Travelling and travel planning can be stressful as it is, but when trying to fit in with family it can be a little worse. But I wanted to share a few tips to hopefully make your planning and booking travel either this year or in the future a little easier.
If there is one thing that I can suggest at this time of year above anything else it is to plan your travel early. With so many people wanting to travel at this time of year the later you leave it the fewer options will be available. Additionally, the closer to your travel date especially over peak periods the more chance you will pay a lot more for the same thing.
Booking flight early can be a good option to ensure you get on a flight at the time you want to. The closer to your travel date you leave it the chances will increase of not getting what you want. You either might have to fly at an odd time or might have to take a date that is less than ideal. Pricing is not always an issue, as airlines still want to fill the seats and may still offer deals even close to the date. But if you want to lock in an affordable price it is better to book early.
Unlike airlines, you will very likely pay a higher rate around peak holiday periods from the start. Of course, this is not all properties, but you will find many that have a peak and off-peak rates. But often it is not a case of the rate being increased in the peak period. It is the rate is decreased in the off-peak period to encourage bookings.
If you find that travelling and booking a hotel is a must at times like Christmas and New Year, you are best to get in early. You will ensure that the room and location you are after is locked in. Leaving the booking until later could result in having to take a room that is not ideal or having to book further away from where you want to be.
Tours & Cruises
If you are interested in booking a tour or cruise it is highly recommended to get in early. Both tours and cruises can be more popular around Christmas because of a mixture of school holidays and people having time off work.
When it comes to cruises though you will find that there are a lot more families travelling at this time of year. But again the best advice if you do want to travel, is get in and book early.
The extra’s or addon’s that are offered for different things can be a great way to save money. Adding these at the time of booking can be considerably cheaper than later on. One thing that often can be a big saving is luggage. There are many tickets that do include luggage. But if you have booked one that does not include luggage and have to pay at the airport it can be quite expensive. One flight in North America I paid an extra $12 to book a ticket with luggage included. Other people were paying $50 or more to check their luggage at the airport. That was a saving of $38 for me.
The best approach here is don’t just scroll past the extra options. Stop and take a look and consider if that is something that you might need or want. There is a chance that booking it up front might just save you some money over adding it at the airport.
Prepare For The Airport
As we get closer to Christmas there will be a lot more people travelling. It can be longer queues and more delays at the airports. Being prepared to make your way through the airport can save you some stress and problems getting through.
Although we might all be pressed for time around Christmas, do what you can to get to the airport early. The lines are going to be longer and it will take more time to get checked in and through security. Arriving early might not get you to your destination quicker. But it can save the stress of trying to make it to your gate on time. You can even use the time once you are through security to grab food or coffee and just relax.
Be sure that your luggage is well tagged and that you know what is in it. Clearly marked tags correctly secured t0 bag your bag will help if it goes astray. Find out the code for your destination airport and keep an eye when your bag is being tagged at check-in. There are plenty of stories of bags going astray from an incorrect airport code accidently ending up on a bag.
If you do not travel often or don’t fly often it is worth doing a little research. Knowing what you are allowed to have in carry-on luggage is a great place to start. While some of the items may be logical, there are some that you might not understand why.
The key message is that if it is listed as not allowed, do not pack it in your hand luggage. The people at the security checkpoint are not there to interpret the rules only to enforce them. If it is on the list of items not allowed, they will require you remove it. Often at this point, there is no other option but to surrender it.
The following link might be useful if you are travelling in or out of Australia (TravelSECURE Website). While the information may apply to some degree in other countries as well. I would suggest you look for specific information about each country to ensure you are complying. You don’t want to find you are following a slightly different rule and run into problems.
Enjoy Your Trip
Your trip might take some organising and planning to get sorted out. But the planning you do up front can save you a lot of hassle on the road. The most important part is have fun on your holiday. Especially at this time of year over Christmas.