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Planes, Trains & Sleighs: Tips for Holiday Travel

Planes, Trains & Sleighs: Tips for Easy Holiday Travel

Christmas Stockings

The year was 2011. It was the eve of Thanksgiving and I was at the annual pre-Thanksgiving bash at my favorite country bar. Wednesday night is ladies night so I loved it when a holiday meant I could stay out late on those nights. I was with a large group of people and we took turns going to the dance floor. I went out to dance, assuming that the guys staying behind were watching my purse. After one song I came back to find my purse empty. My Blackberry, wallet, and personal planner were gone. That was the first and last time I will ever take my eyes off my purse.

Christmas Lights

What does this have to do with travel? Well my drivers license was in my wallet. My family lives in another state and I have to fly to see them for Christmas. I can’t get through security at the airport without a photo I.D. And in Colorado, you have to wait weeks for your I.D. to be processed and mailed to you. In the meantime, you get a temporary paper drivers license that doesn’t have your picture on it and is totally useless. I was in a panic for 4 weeks waiting for that I.D. to show up in my mail. Also in my wallet were all my bank and credit cards, which I need to pay for tickets, checked bags, and meals.

Luckily, everything worked out, but I wish I had been more prepared for potential disaster. Here are some tips to help make your travel hassle-free.

  • Travel off-peak – Adjust your schedule so you can travel during off-peak days and hours. For example, instead of flying the day before Christmas Eve, try flying on Dec. 22 or the morning of Christmas Eve. Consider a late evening or red-eye flight.
  • Expect to wait – Arrive early at the airport and expect longer wait times. I am really contemplating signing up for TSA Pre. It costs $85 for 5 years and you get to cut to the head of the line, like at Disneyland.
  • Download apps – Download the latest apps on your smartphone to get weather alerts, flight delays, and traffic updates.
  • Plan for the unexpected – Think about worst-case scenarios and have a backup plan. For example, if your flight gets cancelled could you snag a cab ride to another airport nearby and book a flight there, or take a train instead?
  • Pack light – Try to pack outfits that can be worn again to save space or use packing cubes to help jam things in nice and tight. If you can fit everything into a carryon, it could help avoid extra baggage fees and save time without having to wait at baggage claim. Brush up on TSA rules, especially those pesky liquids!
  • Expect to pay more – I bought my ticket home for Christmas on October 12. A week later tickets had increased to $600. For last minute flights and hotel rooms, plan to pay more. With that being said, make sure you’re leveraging your travel rewards to maximize your travel spending. For instance, Capital One Venture Card enables cardholders to redeem their miles on any travel-related expense, which can be crucial for curbing those outrageous, last minute, unforeseen costs. Capital One offers other straightforward, intuitive products and tools to help consumers use their money wisely during the holiday season and beyond, such as the 360 Savings from Capital One.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

My Family at Christmas

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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