The Smartest Thing You Can Do When Booking Holiday Travel

published Nov 8, 2016
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(Image credit: Frovola Polina)

Thanksgiving is coming — and it’s early this year. In other words, if you haven’t made your travel plans for turkey day and beyond, you’d best get booking. And if you don’t want to get stuck overpaying for flights or getting stuck in a blizzard in Chicago, there’s one thing you should definitely do.

The number-one rule of holiday travel: Book the earliest flight in the day.

Sorry, night owls, but it’s true — the earlier in the day you fly, the more you decrease your chances of delays.

Think of a commercial plane as a big fancy air taxi starting early in the morning, delivering passengers to a first destination, then moving another set of passengers to a second destination, and so forth.

For every unexpected hiccup — from a mechanical malfunction, to a high-traffic runway — you start adding small delays to the clock. By evening, those 15-minute blips throughout the day could set your scheduled departure back by a full hour, or more.

3 More Ways to Make Holiday Travel Easier

Here are a few more smart tips to get you from point A to point B.

  1. Book a direct flight. If you can, save yourself the headache of a layover (not to mention a greater likelihood of delays) and book yourself a direct flight. It might cost an extra $70, but in the end it’ll be worth it.
  2. Don’t be tricked by cheap airline tickets. Those trademark cheap-o seats seem appealing at first, until you’re stuck spending $20 for your carry-on (yes, some carriers charge for use of overhead bins), $14 for a mediocre meal, and $10 for a blanket (because it’s basically glacial on the plane and you forgot to pack your fur-lined aviator hat).
  3. Always pack snacks. This goes for anytime you go anywhere and by any means, but it’s especially true when you’re headed to the airport . Not only does packing your own snacks mean you get to eat something you’ll actually enjoy, but it also means you’ll save money.

What’s your best advice for traveling during the holidays?