Whether you are you flying across the country to visit family for Thanksgiving break or flying across four states to see your boyfriend's parents, these upcoming months mean holiday travel starts buzzing in everyone's minds. Where does one start in this overwhelming process? Here are a couple things you can anticipate to lessen the travel jitters:
1. Be resourceful
When searching for deals, either use travel search engines (such as Kayak, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline and Expedia), which exist for the sole purpose of easily locating and comparing cheap airline tickets. Be sure to hop around directly on the airline websites, as you can usually find better deals when the tickets come directly from the airlines. Once your flight is booked, make 100 percent sure you check-in online 24 hours before your scheduled departure time, to ensure you get your seat (and some airlines allow you to choose which seat you want online). Another useful tip when booking a flight is to make it in the early morning or late evening, allowing you to miss the frantic mobs at the airport.
2. Buy durable luggage
Avoid an airport meltdown caused by your suitcase zipper getting stuck or breaking. Some suitcases are more compact than others, which is better when it comes to carry-on bags. Duffel bags are also handy since they can squeeze in overhead compartments while still carrying all of your essentials. LL Bean has a wheelie duffel bag that comes in various colors for only $79. For cheap and stylish suitcases/duffels, visit the LeSportsac website, where you can buy cheetah print luggage for $180.
3. Pack like a pro
To avoid paying extra to check your bag, only bring a carry-on. Pack your liquids in a one quart-sized doubled-up Ziploc bag. If you are worried your favorite Stella McCartney perfume bottle will be confiscated, either pack it in a checked bag (if you have one) or leave it behind this time. Regarding the safety of your toiletries, all drugstores have travel-sized samples. Keep in mind where you are going. If you are staying in a hotel, it should come equipped with shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and a hairdryer, among other things. If you are going home, chances are you have toiletries already, meaning there will be a couple less items to pack. As for clothing, you can save room by packing your shoes at the bottom (and tucking your undergarments inside them), lying all bulky items flat on top of the shoes, and storing compact items (such as tank tops and t-shirts) in the gaps. Cosmetics cases will help ensure there are no makeup spillage mishaps; Target has a handful for under $20.
4. Always arrive at the airport early
Expect worst-case scenarios so you are best prepared and equipped. For international flights, it's best to arrive two hours prior to your departure time and for domestic flights, you should arrive approximately 45 minutes prior. To kill the extra time, bring a good book or Kindle to avoid paying for eight magazines. You can also get this conveniently small portable dvd player from Best Buy for $60.
5. If you are staying at a hotel, look online to compare prices and amenities
For the most part, these websites are honest and legitimate, as they contain reviews from people who were guests at the hotels. Some popular sites for finding the perfect hotel for your needs include Nile Guide, Trip Advisor, and Travel Post. To make the hotel cost even less, use frequent flyer miles or credit card points toward your stay. For more privacy, you could go to Vacation Rentals to find a house or condo to rent.
6. Ship your gifts instead of lugging them with you on your trip
Although this option may be a little more expensive, it saves you the trouble of having to drag around dead weight. Plus, if you have a connecting flight, shipping gifts is far less risky when it comes to getting lost. FedEx members even get a special holiday shipping discount.
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