Holiday Travel, By The Numbers

Holiday Travel

Holiday travel is almost upon us and that has a greater than ever number of people in the air, at sea and on the road for Christmas. Call it what you will; an improving economy, declining unemployment, pent-up travel lust or just that time of the year; travelers nationwide have plans for the holidays.

“The year-end holiday season is the busiest travel time of the year,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson in a TBNWeekly report. “Whether families plan a traditional holiday at grandma’s house or a cruise to the Caribbean, one thing is certain, being with family and friends remains the most important factor during the holiday season.”

How does it all break down? Let’s take a look, by the numbers:

15 million people in the United States will head to airports this holiday season, slightly fewer than last year.

35 airports now have the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck trusted traveler program that allows members who have been deemed low risk to keep on their shoes, jackets and belts.12 and 75- Children 12 and under and passengers 75 and older get expedited screening at any TSA checkpoint.

93.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6 percent from 2011, says AAA.

$3.25 per gallon was the current average price as of Monday December 17, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, who predicts less than $3 becoming commonplace in the near future.

7.7 million Texans will leave home for the holidays. 7.1 million by motor vehicle, the rest by air, train, bus and cruise ship.

11.7 million California residents, the most ever, will travel 50 miles or more during the end-of-year holiday season.

32 cruise ships from major cruise lines Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines will be sailing seven-day itineraries that will be at sea on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Thirteen of them are sold out.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/18/5060965/californians-may-set-holiday-travel.html#storylink=cpy

However we count it, holiday travel is expected to be at its highest level in six years, as we see in this video:




[Photo credit- Flickr user q... focusing on other media]

Holiday Travel Stress Reduced With New Recommendation Site

holiday travel

Holiday travel takes us to familiar places for celebration with friends and family but often that trip goes through airports that we could use some help navigating. NerdWallet is a personal finance website with financial product recommendations and advice like “The Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping.” Founders Tim and Jake believe in creating resources that consumers can trust. Launched today, they have a new recommendation site that promises to help travelers better handle variables that add up to the stress associated with holiday travel.

Available online or via smartphone app, TravelNerd has recommendations for parking, transportation, amenities, navigating through airport terminals and more.

“TravelNerd was created in response to an overwhelming need for a guide that helps travelers navigate the hectic nature of airports. As frequent travelers ourselves, we understand that air travel is more than just the flight,” said Alicia Jao VP of Travel Media at NerdWallet in a statement.
Using the TravelNerd system, holiday travelers can weigh transportation options by time and cost, compare airport parking prices on and off site and get discount coupons, view terminal maps with details that include restrooms, restaurants and more.

“Getting to and from the airport and navigating the terminal can be time-consuming and expensive. With these challenges in mind, we created an easily-accessible resource to help consumers make informed travel decisions,” added Jao.

Unlike other online options, TravelNerd is unique in that they offer social features like taxi sharing, directions to the parking lot and click-to-call transportation options.


[Photo credit - Flickr user hnix]

Budget Holiday Travel Possible With New Way Of Thinking

holiday travel

The desire for holiday travel is here. We want to visit friends and family sometime between now and the new year. Still, to recover from economic challenges, travel-related businesses are operating differently than they may have in years past, making that desire for holiday travel more difficult to achieve. Today, there can be a lot more to consider when planning holiday travel than getting time off work, choosing convenient flights and arriving with gifts for all.

“It’s not just tight family finances making travel tough,” says a Detroit News article. “Airlines struggling to save on jet fuel and other expenses have cut the number of flights, leading to a jump in airfares. Those hitting the roads face high gas prices and rising tolls.”

In the past, filling the tank of the family car with gas, planning which route to take and where to stop along the way was about all it took to make it to our holiday destination. Today, travelers on a holiday road trip make sure to have plenty of travel funds available to keep that tank full, check with their favorite mid-way motel to see if it is still open and pack food rather than buying it along the way.

Previously, a seemingly unending number of flights to major destinations had picky travelers looking to fly at a convenient time, in seats together and on their favorite airline. Today’s reduced flight capacity has travelers settling for a flight close to what they had in mind at a price that won’t break the bank.

Still, there are steps that travelers can take to hold down costs, steps that can make the difference between being able to afford holiday travel or not.Packing- Fees for checked bags don’t seem to be going away any time soon so many travelers are re-thinking just how much clothing they really need at their destination. Throw out the old packing list and take a look at reducing what we take along down to one carry-on and a personal item that will fit under the seat.

Use those miles- For those who have been hoarding miles for a future, unknown trip, right now may be the time to dust them off and use them up. Airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals and more that might have fit into the holiday travel budget nicely in the past might not now without some work.

Leverage the Internet like never before- From meals to hotels, entertainment venues and more, information on just how much expenses along the way might be is readily available online. Planning each meal of a multi-day trip in advance alone can add up to huge savings vs. just stopping at some place that looks good. Avoiding expensive breakfast in hotels and eating less expensive lunches than dinners can be helpful too.

Utilize Public Transportation- Whenever possible take advantage of this least expensive option to get from point A to point B. Many cities with subways and/or rail transportation systems have smartphone apps to help plan and budget trips in advance too.

Weigh Options- Take the extra time and compare flying to driving or train service. A two-hour flight might not take all that much longer driving when we consider time to get to the airport, through security and to the gate as well as time getting off the plane and out of the airport. It can easily take me longer and cost more to fly from Orlando to Miami vs. just getting in the car and driving there.

Engage Everyone- Social networks have us talking to people around the world easier than ever before. Why not ask a favorite blogger, online group or business for tips on navigating their city, product or travel-related service. That’s a good way to go with planning and also while in-transit, as many travelers have found out tweeting a problem to airlines, hotels and other companies.

In the end, some big savings can be had by just thinking about travel differently.

Do I really need three pairs of jeans and six shirts for this trip?
The locals manage to use the subway system just fine, can’t I?
I have never been on an Amtrak train; is now the time to try?

Checking in with online sources can get us thinking in the right direction as we see in this ABC News video:




[Photo Credit- Flickr user jazzowl2003]

Fly Here, Stay There: Best Places To Score Air & Hotel Deals This Month

hawaii sunsetIf the start of the holiday season has you itching to get out of town, you’re in luck. Hotwire has tracked this month’s best deals, based on month-over-month and year-over-year cost analysis and found that many warm weather destinations are offering better than average deals. So where should you go?

Stay Here
Las Vegas tops the list for the fourth month in a row with a 10 percent drop and hotel prices for four-star accommodations from $85 and up. Convention business continues to be slow, but that’s good news for leisure travelers looking to hit the pools, shows and casinos at a fraction of what it typically costs. You’re in luck weather-wise too, with temperatures hovering in the upper 60s and low 70s in early December.

Knoxville and Milwaukee join the list as newcomers with eight and seven percent drops, respectively. In Milwaukee, hoteliers are concerned that this winter’s weather won’t be as mild as it was last year and are lowering rates to adjust. Hotels are reasonable too, at $82 and $86, respectively.

Palm Springs and Charleston – named the top destination in the world in the 2012 Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards – round out the list with six percent drops. Convention business is down in this Southern California resort town, leaving Palm Springs with rooms to spare, while hoteliers in Charleston are discounting to keep the momentum going from a busy October and early November.Fly There
Colorado Springs is a best bet for cheap airfare this month with an 18 percent drop and average fare of $258. Hawaii, however, continues to be a booming spot for great deals, where you’ll find great deal to a number of cities and islands, including Honolulu (16 percent drop), Lihue, (12 percent drop) and Kahului (11 percent drop) for an average fare of $452.

If you want to leave the country, you’ll also find great deals to Toronto, with an average fare of $358.

Drive Anywhere
Driving is particularly cheap in Cincinnati, Jersey City, Seattle, Detroit, and Miami Beach, where average per-day car rental prices all hover below $40, with many prices in under $30.

So we’d suggest booking a trip today. After all, you don’t want to be one of those travelers who leaves vacation days on the table … the average traveler leaves nine unused days each year, the site found.

[Image Credit: Buck Forrester]

5 Tips For Holiday Travel With A Baby


With Thanksgiving days away, ’tis the season for screaming infants and squirming toddlers packed onto planes, right? Flying with a baby doesn’t have to be a nightmare, even during the very busy holiday travel season. Whether you are flying home to introduce your baby to the grandparents, or taking a much-needed island vacation with your newly-expanded family, here are some tips to help you (and your seatmates) cope with flying with a baby:

Don’t scrimp on the extras and factor them into your travel budget. Pre-baby, you might have been able to deal with a red-eye flight with multiple connections on a bare-bones budget airline in order to save on ticket airfare. When you are flying with a small child on your lap, there are certain upgrades you may wish to make that will pay off in spades. Check your luggage (though pack light anyway), so you have as little to carry on the plane as possible (and while we’re on the subject, always have a carrier/wrap/sling as you can’t always take your stroller to the gate). Add on extra legroom or the airline’s “economy plus” so you have a little more room to maneuver. These days, only some long-haul or international flights have baby bassinets, and even then, they will only fit up until one year or so. Do your homework: depending on the airline and route, it might make sense to purchase a seat for your infant (often with additional baggage allowance), especially if they are happy to sit in a car seat for the flight. Trust me, these things will be worth the extra $50 or so, but factor it into your ticket cost and budget accordingly.Be resourceful and creative about in-flight entertainment. Many new parents feel they have to pack a separate suitcase full of toys to entertain a child on a plane, but you want to keep your carry-on items to a minimum. You’d also be surprised with what you already have in your purse or diaper bag can be endlessly interesting to a baby: your keys, your bag of small toiletries, even your wallet. At one year, my daughter became fascinated with pulling things out of my wallet, so I now carry a cheap card wallet for her to play with containing all of our old hotel key cards. She’s also spent hours packing and unpacking my make-up bag, and since we’re in a small space, I can make sure she’s not eating my lipstick or stashing my Amex card between the seats. Even the seat has fun buttons to press (as long as they aren’t controlling your neighbor’s seat); magazines to leaf through; and plastic straws, ice and cups from drink service. Carry some actual toys too, but keep them pocket-sized: a small pouch full of IKEA finger puppets is one of the best investments I’ve ever made and has often appeased other kids on the plane too. Anything that won’t make a mess or an annoyance to other passengers is fair game to me. There’s always the failsafe cellphone, or tablet computer if you have one (check out Best Apps for Kids for recommendations); once it’s safe to use approved electronics, of course.

Don’t be afraid of the back of the plane. I used to dread the back of the plane, especially as I was loathe to check luggage and therefore wanted early access to the precious amount of overhead bin space. Now since I’m usually checking anyway, I don’t mind being in the back; it’s close to the bathroom and the flight attendants, often less crowded than the premium seats in the front, and when we land, I have more time to collect all the things the baby has pulled out of my purse. Most airlines have discontinued early boarding for families, but even if it’s offered, you may want more time in the relative comfort and space of the gate area before boarding. The only drawback to the back of the plane is other children, especially if yours tends to be influenced by the cries and sounds of other babies. In case of another child’s meltdown, it might be the time to distract yours with a video, and hand your finger puppets over to the other parents.

Dress naturally and for comfort. A few years ago, I read that because of breathability, it’s more comfortable to fly in a wool dress suit than a polyester track suit. This especially makes sense in winter when you are going from cold runways to overheated airports and erratic cabin temperatures, often rushing to make a plane and laden with baggage. Babies will sleep more comfortably in a cotton or other natural fabric one-piece pajama and it’s also easy to change diapers, and light to pack a spare in your diaper bag. Dressing baby in pajamas can also help feel it’s time for a sleep rather than running around the cabin. I’ve seen many small children traveling in fleece outfits (fleece is essentially code for polyester), and those same children are often sweaty and restless once the airplane’s heater kicks on. For me, I tend to feel much warmer trekking through an airport with a 20-pound person strapped to me, so I try to ditch my coat as soon as possible. My favorite is a lightweight down jacket from Uniqlo that packs down into a tiny bag that I can stash under the stroller or in a suitcase until I’ve reached my final destination. Finally, while baby might look cute and comfy in PJs, you are better off in two pieces with a spare shirt, in case you need to change mid-flight after an accident.

Go with baby’s schedule. No one really has the definitive answer on how to fight jetlag but when it comes to traveling with a baby, you may have to just give in to their schedule demands rather than force them to conform. In the early months, they’ll adjust to time changes easily since they sleep constantly, but older babies might just force you to stay on your usual time zone and adjust slowly. Look for flights that suit your schedule best: my baby does best on early morning or overnight flights when she tends to sleep, even if it means less rest for me. You might be off your game for the first few days when you arrive, but isn’t sleeping late and taking mid-day naps what vacations and time home with family are for? Letting the baby sleep when she wants can also help her stay healthy: you are more prone to illness if your body is exhausted. I also let her eat on demand and find breastfeeding ideal for travel, especially to keep her ears from getting clogged on take off and landing, and provide immunities to ward off sickness. Older or non-breastfed babies can have a pacifier, bottle, or sippy cup for takeoff. I’m personally not a big fan of anti-bacterials, but wash hands and anything baby touches frequently with soap and water.

We’ve survived over three dozen flights and twelve countries with no tantrums or crying, read more tips and advice in the “Knocked Up Abroad” series.