The Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel window, a 17-day period that overlaps the two holidays by about five or six days, is among the busiest travel time of the year. Whether flying or driving to visit loved ones this holiday season, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has tips for travelers to help avoid any headaches along the way.
If driving this year, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation recommends getting your car serviced before you hit the road. Prepare for inclement weather, like snow or ice, and make sure your vehicle has been thoroughly checked by a trusted mechanic.
Before pulling out of your driveway or stepping into an airport, review these BBB tips:
- Leave on an “off” day.
If you leave on the actual holiday itself, you can avoid some traffic, or long lines and large groups of travelers at the airport. The busiest traveling time is usually the night before a big holiday.
- Research last-minute travel deals.
Bargains on airfare or a hotel may be tempting, but be cautious when booking on an unknown travel website or through an online advertisement. Be sure you understand all anticipated charges to help you compare prices with confidence.
- Pack light.
If you are traveling by plane, it could be a good idea to avoid checking a bag all together. If you must, make sure you know your airline’s policies on how much your luggage can weigh and the cost of checking a bag.
- Create a vehicle safety kit.
Basics for the kit include: blankets, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, ice scraper and warm gloves.
- Mail gifts early.
If traveling by plane, ship your gifts before you leave. It is best to pack your gifts unwrapped, especially if you are crossing a border. For security reasons, gifts may be unwrapped and inspected.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi.
Using free Wi-Fi is convenient, but unsecured networks leave travelers vulnerable. While in restaurants, rest stops, or the airport, avoid giving your personal or payment information in Wi-Fi zones that are public or do not require a password.
- Be wary of extra fees.
Most airlines accept pets if they are kenneled, but the charge is usually around $100. Remember that travel plans may change, but your travel cost was determined by your original departure and arrival times. Changing your plans may cost you extra, especially during the holiday travel season.