5 Tips for Last Minute Holiday Travel Planning

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Planning travel around the holidays is tough. Prices skyrocket and award availability is tough, if not impossible, to find depending on where you are planning to go. Nevertheless, the holidays present a great time to travel because as a general rule people have a few extra days off – so you don’t have to use as many of those hard earned vacation days or pull the kiddos out of school.

Here are 5 tips I have for making your last minute holiday travel planning go a little more smoothly.

1. Be Flexible

The more flexible you are, the more likely you are going to be to plan a trip that works. This flexibility can come in so many ways – the dates you travel and where you go just to name the most obvious. Chances are if you are trying to travel near the holidays to save vacation days, you won’t have too much flexility on dates. Use this as an excuse to pick a destination based on flight price or award available! I like to use Google Flights’ Explore Feature to look for destination inspiration.

2. Step Down Your Accommodation or Use Airbnb Instead

If you’re used to staying in 4* and 5* hotels but don’t have the points to cover it and don’t want to pay cash, don’t be afraid to step it down a notch and use that as an excuse to get out of the room more. An alternative is to look into Airbnb. You’re taking a bit of a gamble with Airbnb because you will generally be staying in someone’s home or second home, but there is some spectacular value to be had especially when hotel rates are high!

3. Turn It Into A Road Trip

Flight prices too high to book for the whole family? Turn it into a road trip instead. Even when looking for one-way car rentals you should be able to find something for around $50-$100 per day. If you’re traveling with a family of four, there’s a good chance that this would cost about the same as driving. When you get to your destination, drop off the car and fly home, or rent another car to come home, or consider renting the car round trip without having to worry about the one-way surcharge. When renting a car, make sure to charge the rental to a credit card that will cover you in case of damages to your rental like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

4. Have A Staycation

If traveling somewhere isn’t in the cards, take a day or two for a staycation. Check out a part of your state that you haven’t visited before, pamper yourself a little bit, and return from the holidays refreshed! There are nice small boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts all over the country that are perfect for just that. Look for deals on sites like Groupon or make use of that Airbnb membership you just signed up for!

5. Next Year, Don’t Leave the Holiday Planning for Last Minute

I know, easier said than done. The end of the year just sneaks up on us! But really, you’ll have so many more options and much more reasonable prices to work with if you start your holiday travel planning early. Bite it off in small chunks! Start looking for airfare first and lock it in when the destination you are looking to fly is offering a good price, then move onto your accommodation and activities.

 

What are your plans for the holidays?

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