Save your sanity: 9 Holiday travel tips to save money and headaches

family-travel airport

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) The holidays are a stressful time, but throwing in the element of long distance travel can create all new headaches. Here are 9 tips to help with smoother travel.

Travel early or late in the day


Although trying to make a 5 a.m. flight can be a pain, flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. And if your flight is cancelled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day. Also, there is less traffic on the road and in the security lines. You can always sleep on the plane.

Ship gifts or give gift cards


Seeing family that you have not seen in awhile is fun and of course you want to bring gifts! TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Gift cards are a great alternative that can easily transport.

Travel on off-peak days


Traveling on the biggest travel day of the year (Wednesday before Thanksgiving) can also result in the biggest meltdown of your life. A better option is to leave early on Thanksgiving Day and avoid the record traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: if you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers.

Plan for the unexpected


No one wants to think negatively when getting ready to travel, but be realistic. Are you traveling from Michigan to Ohio during snow season? Do you only have 20 minutes to make your layover? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections, and for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few band-aids never hurt either.

Pack light

carry on

A great tip that can take loads off travel expenses in time is packing light. If you can get by with just a carry-on, do it! If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications and important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. Click here for a simple family packing list.

Keep informed


Before traveling, look into handy apps that can save your trip. Flight Status gives you real-time updates on delays, baggage numbers and more, and GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in security. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas and cleanest bathrooms on the road with GasBuddy and SitOrSquat.

Try re-booking your flight for free


If the weather proves too severe to fly in, airlines often offer customers the opportunity to re-book their flights to leave earlier or later free of charge before you leave for the airport. If you see bad weather approaching, the airlines will even waive fees to re-book customers who call before the bad weather hits. No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.

Charge all electronic devices

phone charging

With large crowds at the airport during holiday travel, available power outlets will be few and far between. Before you leave the house make sure all your electronic devices are completely charged so you won’t have to worry, even if your plane is delayed.

Don’t go hungry


Especially when traveling with kids, stock up on snacks for the airport. Don’t rely on snacks on the plane in case you get stuck on the runway. Packing some food to get you through a day of travel is a solid decision. You won’t get grouchy and neither will your family.

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