Guest post contributed by Zack Davisson
It's that difficult time of year where people across the country must mourn the passing of summer. School has begun, tans are fading, and summer vacations are soon to be just a distant memory. As sad and as harsh of a truth this may be, we all need something to look forward to. That’s why we believe it's never too early to start planning for the upcoming winter holidays. Traveling in the winter, and the fall for Thanksgiving, requires extra care because while the weather may be nicer between June-August, everyone and their auntie will be trying to travel during the exact same one-week period in November and December. To help prepare holiday travelers, our friends and travel experts over at AllTheRooms have come up with a few tips to make upcoming adventures seamless.
Well obviously, that’s why you’re reading this article, but still this cannot be overstated. Holidays are advertised as the happiest time of year but we all know that those smiles are masking stress about presents, crowds, and crazy in-laws, so starting to plan now will ease the anxiety. Planning ahead is not always just about plane tickets either. Even if, for example a family were to take a long road trip in Florida, that should be well organized before departure. What are some alternate routes to take in case of bad weather? Where are the necessary gas stations and the nicest rest stops? What snacks should you bring? These are the questions that need to be answered.
One of the greatest advantages to starting the holiday agenda early is that there is some wiggle room with deadlines. Since no-one needs to book a flight, hotel or rental car at this exact moment, travelers can elect to be a little bit picky. Take time to compare travel dates, booking dates (Tuesdays are often rumored to be the best day to book flights), and pit them against other airline carriers, hotels, or travel providers.
This one is not for everyone but can be a huge money saver if financial concerns are a major importance. One suggestion would be to fly on Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. While this does seem to take away a little bit from the magic of the holiday, airports and other travel centers will be much less crowded and prices will be lower. After all, it is just a day that could easily be celebrated on the following one. Another trick would be to consider alternative arrivals. Most major cities have multiple airports or arrival destinations within an hour, that may add a little extra time on to your travel but ultimately may be less expensive. Think of flying to San Jose instead of SFO, Newark instead of JFK, etc. Finally, consider the dreaded red eye. While extremely late or early morning travel plans may mean a grumpy beginning, red eyes are often cheaper and bypass layovers. Avoiding layovers can be a lifesaver when it comes to flying during the holidays, since weather and the crowds leave carriers prone to delays and cancellations.
Whether or not you think gifts are an essential part of the holidays, they are unavoidable. Not only will companies hike up prices for oversized, extra, or overweight luggage, additional bags are just not fun to deal with. Besides, it leaves travelers vulnerable to lost baggage. With all of the online services available today, it should be a no brainer to opt for delivery directly from the gift’s source rather than carrying everything personally. That way, you can keep some space spare for snagging yourself some after-Christmas sale bargains.
Get the Finances in Order
It is always a good idea to have a specific budget in place whenever heading out on vacation, both for travel costs as well as for spending money upon arrival. However, it would be a shame to be denied access to these funds. That is why it is always important to let your bank, or us at the SF Police Credit Union, know that you will be traveling, especially when going internationally. Our current Visa credit cards available to our members are a great tool to further your vacation financial plan, as they have competitive rates and an excellent points program, an excellent way to start getting inspired for the next adventure!
Zack, a Bay Area native and grandson of a former Sacramento PD officer, contributes to the SFPCU blog all the way from Colombia. He is also a recovering technical recruiter who traded in his suit and tie in Silicon Valley for salsa music and a passion for writing in Medellin. When not writing for AllTheRooms and SFPCU you can find Zack with his nose in a book, puttering around nature, or getting ultra-competitive while watching Jeopardy.