|by Robert Firpo-Cappiello||Train Travel, How to, Airfares & Flying, Airlines, Airport Check-in||0|
I have to admit I've always been a bit of a curmudgeon where the holidays are concerned. I wish I could associate December travel with "warm and fuzzy" but the thought of heading to an airport or train station between now and New Year's is more likely to induce a fight-or-flight response. Luckily, over my nearly one year at Budget Travel, I've discovered that editors past and present have shared a bunch of easy, why-didn't-I-think-of-that holiday travel tips that just might squeeze a "Ho, ho, ho!" out of me after all:
Get antisocial. Well, not exactly "antisocial," but going against the crowd can pay off big this time of year. While most folks are racing home, or to family-friendly destinations, crowds thin out in party towns like Las Vegas and New Orleans. You may find discounted hotel rates and free public events if you're willing to put family, um, second.
Fly on Christmas. You'll avoid crowds and pay less if you're willing to be the last one to arrive at your family's holiday dinner. If you're traveling with kids, tell them they're going to fly on Christmas like Santa Claus. (And reassure them that gifts will be waiting at your destination!)
Prepare early for check-in. If you do have to fly on a super-busy day, take care of as many check-in tasks in advance as possible: Pay for checked bags, find off-airport parking options, and mail gifts to your destination well ahead of your flight date.
Book an early, nonstop flight. Flying early in the day minimizes your chance of being delayed by holdups at other airports. Paying a little more for a nonstop flight eliminates the chance of fresh drama en route.
Stay at a business hotel. All-suite hotels such as Homewood Suites and the Residence Inn depend largely on business travelers and are likely to offer lower rates during holiday vacation season.
Embrace public transportation. While this is always a good idea for reducing traffic and air pollution, in December light rail and bus lines to the airport let you avoid crowded (or full!) parking lots.
Don't wrap gifts you're flying with. Kids aren't the only ones who have trouble resisting a pretty package. Screeners at the airport may want to take a peek inside, too.
When in doubt, call the airline from your mobile phone. If your flight is grounded or seriously delayed, every instinct in your body will tell you to get on the back of that endless line of cranky passengers. Sure, get on line, but at the same time dial the airline's 800 number and ask for help.
Talk to us! Got any holiday travel tips of your own to share?