1. Book travel early.Last-minute holiday travel can do serious damage to your budget. To avoid putting a huge dent in your wallet, it’s best to plan ahead in order to get the best deal. An interesting article from CheapAir.com reveals that the optimal time to buy your tickets is between about one month and 3.5 months (29-104 days) before your trip. Purchasing an airline ticket too early or too late can end up costing you more money. Of course, there are several other factors to keep in mind for individual trips, but we found this to be a helpful benchmark.
2. Watch out for extra expenses.It’s always great to secure a hotel room at a low rate, but it’s important to keep an eye out for extra expenses – such as overly priced parking and access to WiFi. Paying a daily fee for these types of expenses could add up quickly and end up negating the great price you’re paying for the room. It’s best to do your research ahead of time, so you can avoid unpleasant surprises when checking in.
3. Make a packing list and stick to it.Deciding what to pack for a trip is one of the most common problems associated with travel. It can be tough to plan for a destination’s unpredictable weather or limit your outfit options. However, now that many airlines charge for checked baggage, it’s best to keep your luggage contents to necessities only. We suggest you make a list well before you start packing. Making a list will give you time to consider what you’ll need on your trip and hopefully prevent you from forgetting something or over-packing.
If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, you might want to look into space saving/vacuum bags. Using these bags to compress your clothing can give you more storage space in your suitcase, enabling you to pack more. Just make sure you’ll have access to a vacuum at your destination in order to re-pack your bags before returning home. We suggest using this checklist as a starting point.
4. Ship gifts or give gift cards.If you’re planning to exchange gifts while traveling, we recommend shipping them directly to their recipients or purchasing gift cards, which take up very little space in your luggage. United Heritage offers VISA Gift Cards that can be issued for any amount at all of our full-service branches.
5. Stay connected and arrive at the airport early.Download the airline’s mobile app, sign up for text alerts and pay attention to announcements once you’re at the airport. Flight schedules can change in a heartbeat, especially during the holidays. Therefore, it’s best to have as many access points as possible for the airline and/or airport to send you any alerts that may affect your travel plans.
Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of leeway in case something goes awry. During the holidays it’s best to assume there will be traffic, check-in delays and long lines to get through security. If you’re flying anywhere this season, it’s best to arrive at the airport least two hours early.
6. Let your financial institution(s) know you’re traveling.Before you leave, it’s a good idea to let your credit union, bank or credit card company know the dates you will be traveling. Fraudsters are known to prey on consumers during the holidays. Therefore, financial institutions and credit card companies are on high alert and could flag your account if they detect any uncharacteristic spending, including charges in a different city. If you’re a UHCU member, you can visit any branch location or call 512.435.4545, 903.597.7484 or 800.531.2328 to add a travel notification to your account.
Hopefully, this information is helpful as you prepare for any upcoming holiday trips. We believe a little planning beforehand can go a long way to make your travels a little easier. Here’s to a great holiday season with your loved ones!