Travel planning is both art and science, would you agree? In past articles, we’ve researched the experts on the best time to book a flight, and teased out the most commonly made flight booking mistakes (definitely read that article too).
We all know there’s a lot of research that goes into booking flights. That’s not all that goes into a well-planned trip.
You may be skilled at the science of booking airfare and buying the right gear, and the art of mapping out the perfect itinerary. Still, there are some costly mistakes you may be making and not even know it.
Here are the top holiday travel planning mistakes you don’t know you’re making.
You probably purchased the perfect rain jacket, walking shoes, or backpack and now you think you’re done. Hold on a minute!
How many times have you bought something ‘perfect’ and then hated it a half hour into your day? Ankle blisters and an aching back come to mind.
Have you tried the gear yet? Not just tried it on, tried it out.
Before you can be perfectly sure you have the right gear, you have to interact with it. Put it through the paces so to speak. Put on those new shoes or hiking boots and take them for a long walk just like you’ll be doing on your trip. Load up the backpack with everything you plan to take and take it on that walk.
You’ll be glad you did.
It’s essential to be respectful of the local culture where you’re traveling, and you can’t expect to be able to respect traditions if you don’t know what they are.
For example, did you know that families in Mexico eat the main Christmas dinner on December 24 and they don’t open presents until Three Kings Day (January 6). Don’t expect a huge party on New Year’s Eve either. It’s celebrated with low-key family gatherings at home and a relatively early bedtime.
Take a little time to learn about the local culture where you plan to travel. You will be more well received if you do.
This tip is true even if you’re traveling domestically. Not every town in Colorado has a restaurant open on Thanksgiving.
Ask me how I know.
Airports are expecting the US holiday travel season could be even more messy and chaotic than this summer’s frenzy. One of the biggest messes this summer was luggage problems.
Personally, there’s only one time I check my luggage and that’s on the way home from a long trip. And only if my carry-on has everything I need, including:
I don’t feel like hauling all the dirty laundry and souvenirs on the way home. I figure the bag will arrive eventually, and as long as I have what I need if there’s an unexpected stopover, I’ll be fine.
According to Scott’s Cheap Flights, Thanksgiving travel this year will be different than normal (whenever that was). If you procrastinated on buying flights, you may have done yourself a favor. International flights are giving some of the best Thanksgiving travel values seen in a long time.
And yet, throughout the travel industry — from hotels, to restaurants, to airlines — you can generally expect to encounter some form of delay. Knowing what to do in a crunch makes the difference.
The number of flight cancellations has been pretty good lately but knowing a flight is canceled early can give you an advantage. I recommend checking the live flight data the minute you wake up on the day you plan to fly.
Some airlines have already started cutting back flights through the winter based on lagging demand, which means you may see your scheduled flight change. Don’t forget, you can get compensated for some flight delays.
OK, now you’re all set to minimize any disruptions you can this holiday season. Good luck and travel on!
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.