Will you be heading ‘over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house’ this holiday season? Or perhaps you’re looking to take a relaxing beach vacation to Hawaii in mid-December? Wherever you’re headed this holiday season, there are bound to be long lines and delays at the airport. If taking a stress-free trip is exactly what’s on your wish list, you’re in luck (and you didn’t even have to ask Santa)! Travel expert, Chris McGinnis was kind enough to join me recently to share his must have tips for taking a stress-free vacation this winter, and how to get the best travel and hotel deals!
Candace Rose: How can we find local travel deals in our area?
Chris McGinnis: “Well, what you need to do if you want to get a good deal is drop everything and get on a plane or get in your car or jump on a cruise ship right now because we are in what’s known as ‘dead weeks’. The first two weeks of December and the first two weeks of January are actually the slowest times of year in the travel industry. It’s when demand plummets after everyone over Thanksgiving or after everyone has traveled over Christmas and New Year’s. If you go to sites like HotWire.com or PriceLine.com or TravelZoo.com you’ll find lots of good deals, if you have the flexibility to travel during this time.”
Candace Rose: What’s the best way to navigate airport crowds so we can get through security faster?
Chris McGinnis: “Well, I think the most important tip during the holidays when it comes to getting to the airport is to get there on time because when airplanes are running at 100% capacity, 100% of the time and you’re late or you miss your flight, it’s likely that they’re not going to be able to reaccommodate you later that day or even later that week. If you miss your flight you can ruin your entire vacation, so build in a nice path and a comfort zone when getting to the airport.”
Candace Rose: How can we get the best travel deals and hotel rates during this busy holiday travel season?
Chris McGinnis: “Well, I think a lot of people think they’re going to get some really good deals or even a free trip by redeeming their frequent flier miles during the holiday season, unfortunately airlines pose blackout dates and other restrictions that make it impossible to use frequent flier miles during the holidays, so I suggest travelers instead focus on their credit card programs. For example, the Chase Sapphire preferred card will actually buy you a ticket when you redeem your Chase ultimate rewards points. If there’s a seat available on any flight on any airline, the seat is actually purchased for you instead of having to redeem those miles for it.”
Candace Rose: How can families take the stress out of holiday travel?
Chris McGinnis: “Well, I think one of the most important things that you can do is to try and book a non-stop flight. When you take a one-stop flight (even though it might be a little cheaper) you are doubling your chances of running into a delay or cancellation situation. Try to take a non-stop flight if you can, that’s especially important if you’re traveling with kids that don’t like to be stuck in airports and other cities and not really know what’s going on.
Another thing you can do to reduce stress during the holidays is to stay at a hotel instead of staying with your in-laws when going home for the holidays. Hotel rates plummet during the holidays- around Christmas and New Year’s business travelers usually stay home, and hotels are begging for business, so call a hotel near your in-laws, see what kind of rate you can negotiate and then stay there. That way everybody kind of gets their own space at night, and there’s enough hot water for everybody.”