OK. We know that the leaves haven’t turned yet, and the smell of pumpkin spice is barely wafting through the air. We aren’t even in Halloween prime time yet. We assure you, we aren’t trying to rush things, but we’d like to offer some seriously good advice: If you plan to fly someplace for the holidays – either for Thanksgiving or for the Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa window – it’s not too early to book your plane travel now. In fact, it may be the ideal time.
According to AAA Travel’s flight booking data from the last three years, Sept. 25 marks the start of the best booking window for air travel over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s generally the best time for both availability and price deals. While it’s true that there are sometimes last-minute deals for travel, there is limited availability – so if you want the best availability and choice, start looking soon.
For train travel, Amtrak offers Tips for Successfully Booking Your Trip. They say that “The earlier you book your tickets, the more likely you are to get the lowest fare available for the dates you want on the routes along your journey. You may book your travel up to 11 months in advance.” See their Tips for Savvy Travelers.
In planning your trip, consider whether you need trip insurance. If you are just zipping home on a domestic flight to visit your folks, you might not need it. Instead, before you book, check your credit cards to see if any offer baggage protection or other travel benefits when you book a flight – many do. And know your consumer rights – see the Department of Transportation’s Fly Rights: A Consumer Guide to Air Travel.
But if you are taking an expensive family trip over the holidays and traveling overseas or on a cruise, you might want to talk trip insurance over with your agent to protect your investment. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good primer: Should you buy travel insurance?
Did you ever set out for you summer vacation only to return home a few minutes later to double check that you’d secured the garage door or shut the kitchen window? When you’re packing up for a trip, the natural focus is on planning for where you’ll be … but you don’t want to come home to a major problem, so an important part of any trip prep is to take the time to secure your home before you leave.
Our friends at Chubb Insurance have compiled a great interactive trip planning guide with tips tools you need to prepare for your trip so that you can depart worry free, View the short video below or download Home Preparation Tips – Steps to protect your home, vehicles, valuables and security during your next trip.
Chubb also offers security advice for while you are on your trip – check out the video or download Travel Tips for managing your documents, money, valuables, technology and more while you’re away.
If you are planning to hit the road for Thanksgiving, you’ll have plenty of company. Road travel is expected to be very high this year, bolstered by favorable gas prices right now — according to AAA, this week started off with a national average price for a gallon of regular gas of $2.885!
When do we go? 36% say their Thanksgiving travel begins on Thanksgiving Day. 30% said it starts the day before; 18% say they’re hitting the road 2 to 3 days before.
What about the return trip home? 25% say they’ll fight the tryptophan malaise and drive home later on Thanksgiving Day; but the majority, 42% say they’ll wait 2 to 3 days and drive home Saturday or Sunday. 22% of us expect to hit the road with a fresh start the next morning.
How well prepared are we? 95% of respondents have a smart phone. 52% say they use 2 to 3 travel apps for their Thanksgiving travels; 34% will actively use 4 or more apps.
Google Maps examined the traffic conditions over the last 2 years for 21 cities in the U.S. and translated that data to travel tips for those of you who will be on the road: the best day to travel? That would be Thanksgiving day itself. Google offers tips for days to avoid, the best time to set out, the best times to travel home, and more. See the full list of Google Thanksgiving travel tips here – we’ve excerpted a few infographic-style tips below.
It reminded us how often unplanned circumstances can make for “memorable” travel adventures. We came across one story about just such unplanned events that we found both amusing and appalling: Poop cruise! And 30 other outrageous travel stories of 2013. The title refers to last year’s nightmare cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. The poor passengers first had to suffer an onboard fire, a terrifying experience that resulted in the loss of all power. It took the crippled boat 5 days to drift into port: 5 long days with thousands of people stuck on a ship with no electricity or working toilets. The horror!
If you are planning any vacations for a mid-winter break, we hope these stories won’t put you off. Unplanned “adventures” can happen at home or abroad – that’s what insurance is for. Consider protecting any costly travel plans with some trip insurance. It may not protect you from unexpected encounters with penguins, poop, or other problems, but could help to minimize any associated risks should havoc ensue. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good rundown on the major types of travel insurance: including Trip Cancellation, Lost Baggage, Medical, Dental, Emergency Evacuation, 24 Hour Traveler Assistance, Baggage Delay, Travel Delay, and Accidental Death Coverages. Some policies also have options for Collision/Damage coverage for rented cars.
Why not stay local this summer and enjoy all the treasures that New England has to offer? We’ve compiled some tips & tools to get you on your way.
First and foremost, before you hit the road, check Gas Buddy and fueleconomy.gov to get the best gas prices. And make sure that your car is in tip-top shape: Consumer Reports offers a great guide to summer road travel with tips for family travel, maintenance and vehicle prep, fuel economy, travel gear, safety & more.
If you want to leave the car behind and go by foot, check out Hike New England to explore more than 200 trail reports for detailed guides that include a description of the hike, trail distances, a difficulty rating, and driving directions; often photos or trail maps are also provided.