Texas Travel

Holiday Travel Survival Guide

By Jennifer Norris 10.27.14

Flying across the country to sit down with the in-laws for Thanksgiving? Booking flights for the family to get away this holiday season? Here are some tips to help you navigate your family’s day of travel.

  1. Book as early as possible. Like, now. Holiday travel is the busiest kind, so book as soon as plans are finalized to get the best prices and your choice of flights. And don’t forget to book your car rental. If you’re a Texas Farm Bureau member, visit http://www.texasfarmbureau.org/memberbenefits.aspx for available discounts on car rentals.
  2. If you can, travel on off-peak days and times. Whether it’s a day early or even Christmas morning, traveling at these times will alleviate the crowds at security screenings … and even lower the cost.
  3. Pack wisely. Read: pack light and ship the gifts.
  4. Stay connected. Travel apps can keep our schedules, bookings, and important documents all in one place. Check out GateGuru and Priority Pass to navigate security lines and find airline lounges available throughout your airport. Also input your airline’s contact phone numbers and reservation desk, just in case you have trouble with your flight.

Which brings us to what happens if you unexpectedly become grounded. First, stay calm. Then, keep these tips in mind.

Track the stats. Apps like FlightStats offer real-time tracking of flight delays and cancellations.

Find a live human. Your airline’s ticket counter will be working feverishly to rebook everyone, so remain flexible. You can also call the airline. The Department of Transportation recommends that if the rebooked flight will cause a significant delay, find another carrier that has seats and ask the first airline to cover the cost of your ticket with the new carrier. You can use the Next Flight app to find the next flight with available seats. But finding extra seats may be difficult when traveling around holidays. And keep in mind there is no obligation from your original airline to honor this old-school rule.

Try to relax while you wait it out. Use the Priority Pass app to find a lounge in the airport and buy a day-pass. These lounges offer food and drink and a quick, comfortable spot to get away from the chaos of the airport.

Be open to Plan B: Book a hotel. Apps like Hotel Tonight and Priceline.com’s booking app can help find the nearest open hotel room, and offer pretty good deals on last-minute bookings.