Holiday travel is a booming business once more, and it’s no wonder. After years of staying close to home, people are ready to spend the post-COVID holidays with family and friends. Unfortunately, that means most airports will be busy-with-a-capital-B, meaning potentially long lines at TSA, skyrocketing ticket costs, and the dreaded flight delays.
But that doesn’t mean you need to stay home! We’ve got all the info you need to make your holiday travel smoother than a sleigh ride.
Fly into less popular cities
A ski vacation over Christmas? Awesome! Booking flights into Aspen, Stowe, or Vail? Ummm, not so awesome!
If you want to save money on flights, one of the best things you can do is fly someplace that’s not in heavy demand. Because the more popular the city, the busier its airport. And for you, that’s going to mean steeper prices.
Of course, if you’re flying to visit family or friends, your choices are more limited. But even then, you can save money (and headaches!) by flying into a smaller airport nearby.
When’s the right time to book your holiday travel? Um, pretty much as soon as you decide where you’re going.
The earlier you book, the more choices you have, so the more likely you are to find a cheap flight. Plus, even on the exact same flight, you guys know that some seats are more expensive than others, right? Guess which ones sell out first…
And with the post-COVID travel demand skyrocketing, there’s something else to consider. If you wait too long, flights to your city could sell out.
Fly at off times
Here’s our ideal flight: sleep in a little, linger over breakfast, wait until rush hour is over, then make our way to the airport, getting into our destination city with plenty of daylight left. Sounds amazing, right? Well, everyone else thinks so, too!
Mid-morning flights are definitely more popular. And popular equals packed and pricey—two things you want to avoid!
Set a few alarms (you know, just in case) and book an early a.m. flight. On the plus side, you’ll get to your final destination early and have an entire extra day to enjoy!
Pro Tip: Not a morning person? Pack your favorite lavender eye mask and book a red-eye.
Be flexible with your dates
You guys know not to fly the day before Thanksgiving, right? Traditionally, it’s one of, or maybe even the, busiest flight days of the year.
Other busy holiday travel days: the Friday before a holiday and the Sunday after. Flying on any of those days means crazy-crowded airports, long lines, overbooked flights, delays… not the way you want to start (or end) your holiday.
Most booking sites will give you the option to compare flights for several days. If you have extra time off or can work remotely, choose a date that allows you to avoid the travel rush.
Skip the extras
Wait, how did that $300 flight end up costing $450?!? One word: extras.
Most cheap flights are “bare bones,” meaning you just get a seat. Everything else is an upcharge. Want to pick your seat? That’ll cost you. Want a window? That’ll cost even more. Snacks, headphones, extra or overweight luggage… they all start adding up.
If you want that cheap flight to stay cheap, skip as many extras as possible. Bring snacks from home. Buy bottled water at the airport. Sit wherever they assign you, especially if you’re traveling alone or don’t mind sitting apart from your friends (it’s only a flight, no biggie!).
Bonus tip: ship your luggage
And as for checking a suitcase? No, thanks!
Flight delays and hectic airports are a sure-fire recipe for lost bags. And lugging a bag through a crowded airport is no fun.
For less than the cost of the average checked bag, you can ship your stuff to your holiday destination with LugLess. Less stress, lower fees, and you get to make your way through the airport, hands-free. Well, except for that giant holiday-flavored latte… because we all deserve a yummy airport treat!
Ready to book your holiday travel? Follow these tips to make flying as smooth as possible during the most wonderful time of the year!