68 Se­crets to Stress-free Travel

This Hol­i­day Sea­son—and Be­yond

Reader's Digest - - Front Page - By JU­LIANA LABIANCA

1. Do Know What a Great Deal Looks Like

“When to fly and buy” re­ports from hop­per.com will tell you what price is a good deal for any given route. And Google Flights’ “tracked prices” fea­ture will e-mail you when the price of a se­lected itin­er­ary has gone up or down.

2. Don’t Stress if You Haven’t Booked Yet

“Data from the past two years sug­gest the best time to book a do­mes­tic flight for the 2017 hol­i­day sea­son will be be­tween three and seven weeks out,” says Randi Wolf­son, head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the trav­elsearch site skyscan­ner.com.

3. Do Check Sev­eral On­line Travel Agen­cies

“There’s a mis­con­cep­tion that ev­ery on­line travel agency [OTA] has the same fares,” says Ge­orge Ho­bica of air­fare­watch­dog.com. “But be­cause they some­times cut spe­cial deals with the air­lines, it’s worth it to check them all.” A site such as kayak.com will scan mul­ti­ple agen­cies in one search.

4. Don’t Over­look Air­lines That Aren’t in Searches

Delta has stopped work­ing with cer­tain OTAS, so make

Fol­low these no-non­sense rules to take the pain out of ev­ery trip this hol­i­day sea­son— and be­yond

sure you’ve seen its fares for your itin­er­ary be­fore you book. And you’ll al­ways have to check South­west’s web­site for its fares.

5. Do Book Through The Air­line

If there’s not much dif­fer­ence in price be­tween an air­line’s fare and an OTA’S fare, book with the air­line. In the event of a de­lay or a can­cel­la­tion, you’ll need to go back to who­ever is­sued your ticket to get re­booked, and you could be bet­ter off if you dealt with the air­line di­rectly rather than with a third-party agent, ex­plains Akash Gupta of the­p­oints­guy.com.

6. Don’t Al­ways Book the Fam­ily To­gether

If you’re buy­ing mul­ti­ple tick­ets, search for them in­di­vid­u­ally and as a group. Air­line ticket prices are full of quirks, and some­times in­di­vid­ual seats are cheaper than a block. If you de­cide to buy in­di­vid­u­ally, make sure there’s no per-ticket pro­cess­ing charge that would off­set the sav­ings.

7. Do Fly on Christ­mas

If din­ner doesn’t hit the ta­ble un­til early evening, con­sider fly­ing on Christ­mas morn­ing to save an av­er­age of $50 per per­son com­pared with trav­el­ing on the Fri­day pre­ced­ing the hol­i­day. De­part be­fore that Fri­day to cut costs fur­ther. Flights on Wed­nes­day, De­cem­ber 20, and Wed­nes­day, De­cem­ber 27, are likely to have the deep­est dis­counts this sea­son, ac­cord­ing to chea­pair.com.

8. Don’t Ig­nore Air+ho­tel Bun­dles

Book­ing both at the same time may cost a lot less than book­ing separately. “If the ho­tel doesn’t have to show their price and the air­lines don’t have to show their price, both are will­ing to give lower prices not avail­able oth­er­wise,” Tim Macdon­ald, for­mer gen­eral man­ager of ex­pe­dia.com, told the New York Times.

9. Do Sub­scribe to a News­let­ter

Air­lines of­ten of­fer dis­counts via e-mail. Put your name on their lists and you’ll be in the know about promo codes, flash sales, and other spe­cial of­fers. We’ve seen dis­counts of up to 50 per­cent on cer­tain air­lines and routes.

10. Don’t Miss Out on Fare-drop Re­funds

The law re­quires air­lines to al­low you to re­book your flight for free within 24 hours of buy­ing your ticket, as long as you’re more than a week from the de­par­ture date.

Af­ter that, most air­lines charge up to $200 to change flights, but South­west will never charge a fee.

11. Do Re­view Your Group Mem­ber­ships

AARP mem­bers get up to 10 per­cent off at many ho­tel chains and up to 25 per­cent off some car rentals. AAA of­fers sim­i­lar deals. One sur­pris­ing source of dis­counts: Costco. It of­fers its mem­bers deals on cars and ho­tels as well as on some ex­cel­lent va­ca­tion pack­ages. Many em­ploy­ers also of­fer air­line and ho­tel dis­counts.

12.

DON’T SIT WITH YOUR KNEES IN YOUR CHIN Jetblue of­fers the most legroom in econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to Con­sumer Re­ports. Each air­line has its own sig­na­ture amenity, so you might want to shop ac­cord­ingly. For in­stance, if in-flight en­ter­tain­ment is your pri­or­ity, opt for Vir­gin Amer­ica, which of­fers free Wi-fi, movies, and tele­vi­sion shows.

13.

DO BE A (VERY) EARLY BIRD De­lays in­evitably stack up over the course of the day. The ear­lier in the morn­ing you fly, the bet­ter chance you have of avoid­ing them.

14.

DON’T GO NEAR THE COLD IF YOU CAN HELP IT If you have con­nect­ing flights, choose warm-weather cities for your lay­overs. Phoenix and At­lanta are less sus­cep­ti­ble to se­vere win­ter weather—and the flight de­lays and can­cel­la­tions it of­ten brings—than, say, Chicago or Denver.

15.

DO POP A PEPTO-BISMOL The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion says trav­el­ers can re­duce the risk of in­testi­nal trou­ble by about 50 per­cent by tak­ing Pepto-bismol or Kaopec­tate pre­ven­tively—ei­ther two chew­able tablets or two ounces of liq­uid—four times a day. If you have other health con­di­tions, check with your doc­tor first.

16.

DON’T FOR­GET TO CHECK IN THE NIGHT BE­FORE If you end up get­ting to the air­port late, the air­line is more likely to give away your seat if you haven’t checked in.

PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY THE VOORHES

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