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Tips for hassle-free holiday travel

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December 5, 2022
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Tips for hassle-free holiday travel

It's that time of year again when travelers start planning for holiday travel—if they haven't already started. After a couple of arduous years of restrictions and continued inflation, Americans are especially determined to get a glimpse of new scenery and travel out of town to visit loved ones.

Bounce compiled a list of travel tips for the holiday season using data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the Department of Transportation.

Air travel in 2022 has indeed returned with a vengeance, and demand for air travel has increased markedly. Flight costs around Thanksgiving time are up 43% from 2021, according to the travel app Hopper.

In fact, from 2017 to 2021, prices typically increased in the fourth quarter of the year compared to the third quarter. Prices are also inching their way back up to pre-pandemic prices over the past two years. Soaring flight prices aren't the only thing to be concerned about—Delta Airlines pilots recently voted to strike if unable to reach an agreement with the carrier. The potential strike wouldn't be immediate as the pilots must have permission first from the National Mediation Board. Still, it's enough to have nerves on edge and travelers wondering if other air carriers will follow suit.

Keep reading for tips to help avoid hassles while traveling during the holidays.

A grouped column chart showing that air travel tickets are on average 4% more expensive when bought during Q3 than Q4.
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Book flights early to save money

This year's summer travel—domestic and abroad—was chaotic, with numerous delays and cancellations. Travelers are hoping for better luck around the holidays despite soaring airfare costs.

A 2022 report from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers shows 47% of American consumers are expected to travel this holiday season. So, when is the best time to purchase flights for holiday travel?

Google Flights determined the best booking windows for holiday travel varied, depending on the season, but booking 52 days out from your Thanksgiving travel date and 22 days out from your Christmas travel date, usually yielded the lowest average prices.

Chances may be slim, but you can still luck out with last-minute flight deals by perusing travel booking sites. Alternative ways to save on holiday airfare travel include considering flights with layovers, which generally cost 20% less than nonstop flights. You can also opt for an airline that doesn't require additional costs for checking in a bag.

Four state-level maps of the U.S. showing passenger terminals for airplanes, trains, buses, and ferries.
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Explore cheaper travel options like trains and buses

Air travel for the holidays can be costly, especially if buyers purchased flights after September. That's when travelers can explore other options. In metropolitan areas, trains and buses are more feasible, while a state ferry may be an option for less populated areas.

For those traveling during business hours, an advantage of traveling via rail is the likely option of having access to the other transportation options at rail stations. This alternative may be less likely in airports.

Young couple having a snack with lunch boxes in a airport.
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Don't travel with perishables

Travelers, in general, are allowed to bring canned goods on their flights, but TSA suggests storing canned items in checked luggage. Most canned items contain more liquid than what's allowed (3.4 ounces or less for each item), which makes them difficult to read on x-ray machines, and as a result, may require additional screening.

For those who plan to travel with Thanksgiving leftovers, frozen items such as soups or ice cream must be solid and not melted or slushy in the slightest bit when going through security screening. Baked goods such as pies and other treats are permitted but may be subject to screening. Mini bottles of wine or alcoholic beverages are allowed in checked luggage but are limited to 1.3 gallons per passenger.

Man packing boxes for shipment.
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Lysenko Andrii // Shutterstock

Mail presents in advance

Shipping gifts to their destination ahead of time can save travelers space in their suitcases and trouble at airport security lines. The earlier the gifts are shipped, the better.

For Americans planning to send gifts first class or priority mail to military members, USPS recommends shipping it by Dec. 9. Priority Mail Express prices start at $27.25 at the post office and $23.75 using an online postage service.

This story originally appeared on Bounce and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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