During the holidays, travel is at its worst. No matter how you and your family decide to get from here to there, crowds converge at every turn, schedules go awry, and kids get antsy. Before you venture out this holiday season, consider these tips to avoid the bumpy roads and turbulence that define family travel.
Scheduling your family trip as far in advance as possible can help save you time, worry, and money. Keep these things in mind as you look at your calendar.
- Avoid heavy travel days. If possible, travel on Monday or Tuesday and return on Friday, since most people will choose the other days to travel. If you're flying, try to make the trip on Thanksgiving Day itself. Not only is it likely to be less crowded at the airport, but you might also be able to snag a price deal.
- Build in extra time to help reduce stress. If you're traveling by plane, arrive at the airport about two hours in advance, to ensure you get through security before take-off.
- Be strategic. Scheduling trips around kids' nap times can make for a quieter ride.
- Factor in unplanned stops when estimating arrival time.
- Book plane tickets well in advance — airplanes seat fewer and fewer people these days. If you're flying via Detroit, Houston, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, or Minneapolis, watch out! Numbers of seats and flights have been reduced the most at those airports.
- Allow at least one hour between connecting flights.
- A nonstop flight isn't always the best choice. You and your kids may welcome the chance to get off the plane for a while, in between flights.
If riding the train:
- Look for "passenger extra" trains -- they tend to be less crowded.