6 Secrets for Surviving the Holiday Travel Season

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MiniTime.com’s family travel expert offers strategies for an affordable and stress-free holiday getaway with kids.

With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, we’re about to enter the hectic holiday travel season with its peak prices and crowded airports. But holiday travel doesn’t have to be stressful and outrageously expensive, according to Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family travel expert and Managing Editor of MiniTime.com, the family travel website that provides parents with travel recommendations based on the ages of their kids.

"When it comes to traveling during the holidays, the goal isn’t so much about scoring a killer deal as it is simply about not paying more than you have to," says Kelleher, who recommends these six strategies to make your holiday travels more affordable and stress-free:

1.    Be flexible with dates. "Holiday airfares can vary tremendously, depending on which days you fly. Realize that almost everyone is locked into the same schedule, so the way to save is to go against the grain,” says Kelleher. "For the long Thanksgiving weekend, avoid flying on Wednesday, November 27th, and Sunday, December 1st. And steer clear of flying on the weekends before and after Christmas.”
2.    Consider an alternate airport. It can be significantly cheaper to fly in and out of a regional airport within a short drive of a major hub. “Fly out of a smaller airport, which tends to offer a more pleasant experience anyway,” suggests Kelleher. “You often find fewer crowds, shorter lines and cheaper parking.”
3.    Grab the first flight out. “Crowd-free airports are happy airports,” says Kelleher. “You can greatly reduce your chances of getting delayed if you book a morning take-off.” As the day goes on, there’s often a domino effect as one delayed flight bumps back into the next, which is why afternoon and evening flights are more likely to get log-jammed.
4.    Skip the line at the airport. In the 24 hours before your departure, hop online and check into your flight, print out your boarding passes, and pay for any checked luggage you will bring.
5.    Consider ditching the in-laws. “There are so few times during the year when kids and adults both get vacation time. Use the days off school and work to go away, somewhere you can snag a great special offer,” says Kelleher. Good-value Thanksgiving packages are offered at the Wild Dunes Resort, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and the Silverado Resort in Napa, to name a few. There’s also the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Package in NYC which includes grandstand viewing of the can’t-miss parade.
6.    Get smart about gifts. Ship ahead if at all possible, but if you must bring presents on the plane, leave them unwrapped until you reach your destination. Otherwise, security agents may have to rip off your wrapping paper in order to do their job.

About MiniTime
MiniTime.com makes family travel planning easy by providing parents with detailed information, recommendations and trip planning tools, all based on the ages of their kids. Only MiniTime combines editorial curation, algorithmic recommendations, an enthusiast community of parents and powerful user tools to help parents plan, book and share their family travel experiences. For more information about MiniTime.com, visit http://www.minitime.com.

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Debbie Fink
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