Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Travel....

...Have you booked your flight yet?

Every year when November first hits and the Christmas music comes on the radio, the initial thought in my head is...where am I going to be for Christmas? I'm usually at home for Christmas, back with the family in good 'ol Denver, Colorado. While I never had to travel home for the holidays before, now I live far enough away that I have to plan my trip well in advance in order to get my vacation days approved and my flights booked. Many people have to go through the same process as me, while others can simply drive or take trains home and still others avoid home all together and opt for a holiday vacation.

Holiday travel can be hectic, and this time of year spurs some of the largest airport crowds ever. It can be tough to find decently priced airfare, or even good dates to fly. Blackout dates plague those trying to use mileage and horrible weather can ground planes for hours, making it impossible to get home on time. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have spent a Christmas Eve or Day stranded at an airport. For all those who find themselves traveling during the holidays, airlines are providing a little relief from the stress. Many major airlines announced reduced holiday prices this week, dropping some costs down by 35%. So if you still haven't purchased your tickets for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, check out travelzoo to find out the cheapest days to fly, and get some helpful tips from some travel experts.

As far as those people who do not have to fly, train travel is certainly an untapped resource for many travelers. This year, Amtrak reported it's on track for a record number of passengers for the fiscal year, which makes sense since train fares are significantly cheaper than airline tickets. Prices for train tickets are relatively consistent, with the possibility of slight peaks during high travel periods, but even with that spike, it's a much more economical choice. The only set back to the train is the length of travel time. Planes, obviously, get you to your destination quicker. So if you have a long distance to go, stick with planes. If you are not traveling across the country, but rather somewhere close, like the next state over, a train might be your best option. It's cheap, convenient, with plenty of space for your bags, and you get to enjoy some lovely scenery along the way.

If you choose to drive to your holiday destination, be sure to check road conditions and traffic. While airports can be packed, so can highways, so it might take you longer than expected to get home. Another important thing to keep in mind is gas prices. Now that the Federal Reserve is trying to stimulate the economy by buying bonds, gas prices will inevitably rise. The good news for drivers is that with rising gas prices, airfares will increase. Cars are still the cheaper alternative.

Whether going by train, plane or automobile, the holidays will always be a crazy time to travel. Just remember what is waiting for you when you finally arrive...


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