Some holiday errors are so common they're almost a tradition, like regifting to the original giver or ingesting far too many calories in festive cookie shapes. But holiday travel mistakes can waste precious family time, cost way too much money and turn ordinarily sweet folks surly.
These eight holiday travel snafus are fairly easy to avoid:
Leaving on a road trip at the wrong time. Each year, AAA estimates the best time to drive this Christmas. Consulting its prognostications is a surefire way to save time and avoid starting your holiday road trip with a soul-crushing five-hour traffic jam.
Neglecting to arrange for travel insurance. The holidays can mean longer, more extravagant travel, which means more to lose if things go wrong. It's a good idea to consider paying for travel insurance to cover such issues having to cancel your trip or missing a connection. "If you are going to be flying or taking a larger vacation over the holidays, it can really pay dividends if you end up needing it," AAA spokesperson Julie Hall told CNBC.
Spending extra on plane tickets. To save money on airfare for the holidays in 2019, choose a good day to travel and pay attention to when you shop for your tickets. According to Expedia, the best time to save money on airline tickets for Christmas 2019 is Nov. 23-Dec. 9.
Forgetting about blackout dates. If you've accumulated enough points for free air travel, it's mighty tempting to rely on those points for holiday travel. To avoid crushing news after it's too late to seek alternative ways of saving money on airfare for holiday 2019, Expedia recommends checking and double-checking blackout dates. "If you're preparing to use a companion ticket or award miles to book flights, look up the fare blackout dates so you know exactly what days you can depart and return home," according to Expedia.
Waiting too long to obtain travel documents. If this is the big year for you to travel abroad at Christmas, good on you. But don't become a holiday travel statistic by neglecting to have all the documents required to leave the country, Expedia urged. "Remember: processing times for new U.S. Passports range anywhere from 2-8 weeks, and if you already have a passport make sure it won't expire within six months of your travel dates."
Neglecting to budget for extras. Holiday travel can be expensive. But don't try to make it affordable by disregarding certain necessary expenditures. After you account for the obvious, like airfare, hotel and rental car, be sure to budget an extra $25-$50 per day for extras like tolls, coffees and ATM fees, Sarah Schlichter, senior editor of online travel magazine SmarterTravel.com told CNBC.
"Planning a trip is time-consuming enough without attempting to account for every single possible expense. Especially at a busy time of year like the holidays, people often simply sketch out a rough budget and don't dig into all the small charges that could take them above what they want to spend."
Being too attached to holiday schedules. This may not be a mistake, exactly, but if you're willing to tweak celebration times you can save quite a bit on holiday travel. According to Expedia, "traveling on the holiday itself often yields the cheapest rates" for airline travel at the holidays.
Buying last-minute gifts at certain airports. According to the Points Guy air travel blog, certain airport duty-free shops will really soak you if you need to pick up a last-minute gift while you're in transit. Luckily for outgoing holiday travelers, Atlanta ranks No. 1 for cheapest airports to buy duty-free liquor if you need a last-minute gift. Don't spend your hard-earned holiday budget buying spirits from a duty-free airport store when you arrive at these destinations. Points Guy says these airports have the some of the worst prices prices: Tampa (TPA), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX). If you're buying cosmetics, you'll spend too much at the worst-priced airports in Seattle (SEA), Newark (EWR) and Denver (DEN), according to the same data. As for fragrance, Seattle (SEA), Denver (DEN) and Tampa (TPA) airports for the worst prices. Maybe just ship your gifts ahead instead?
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