Travel expert and TV personality Andrea Feczko has revealed her best tips for traveling during the busy holiday season. The host of ABC’s “Vacation Creation” and creator of “How 2 Travelers” shared her top tips for the most efficient, cost-effective ways to travel at a time when prices are up and availability is low. Here is what she said:
Speed Up Airport Travel
Early bird gets the worm.
If you're worried about delays or cancellations, it's best to book an early morning flight. The general rule of thumb is that every hour through the day equals a minute of delay. Delays usually peak around 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 20 minutes. That's because flights tend to "reset" overnight.
TSA Precheck is the way to go for simplified, fast, easy travel. Remember, back in the day - as in way, way back in the day - when long security lines were not a complete stress inducer? Well, that's what TSA Precheck is like. Without having to take off shoes or tear apart your luggage to sort out liquids and electronics, it rarely takes more than 15 minutes to get through security. Plus, it's a great value. If you get TSA Precheck directly (you can also get it through Global Entry), it's $85 for five years. If you're talking time versus money, the amount of time you save with TSA Precheck is worth way more than a measly $17 per year.
Agent Per Line Ratio
When you get to security, make a lap around the area before you commit to the line. Take an extra minute to see what’s going on in the lines ahead and how many agents are on location. Taking that extra time might seem time consuming, but if you get behind the wrong line, it can change your time experience in the security area! You should pick the line closest to the TSA pre-check security line. Why? Because if the TSA line gets quiet, then the agent will pull people over from your line, so that you can get these through security fast. Your time will go quicker with two agents per line.
Customs and Passports
Most people usually take the first line and they won’t take the extra steps to look for quicker lines a few feet away, so you can move ahead faster. If you pick a wrong line, it can take hours to go through the custom declaration line. Again, keep in mind the agent per line ratio again. The fast line will have the most agents attached to it.
Screening for Carry-On Luggage
The rules are opposite here. In order to go through screening quickly, you want less agents for screenings. The best situation is one line per agent manning the machine. If you see two people behind the machine, chances are one of those agents is in training, so that process will take longer. Definitely look for one agent per line.
Travel on the Holiday
This sounds counter intuitive, but it's the truth. See, everyone is rushing to get home FOR the holiday - and it doesn't matter which one - but if you travel ON the holiday, you will usually find it to be a very great experience. First of all, people are all generally in a really good mood. Second, it's usually not that crowded. Third, you'll get a bigger bang for your buck.
Travel Destinations Over the Holidays
Call me a Bah Humbug, but I do everything I can to NOT travel over the holidays. It's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year- except for anywhere related to transportation. It's by far the most expensive time to travel, the most crowded, and a time of year when weather can ruin the holiday spirit. For the amount of money it costs to go home for four days, I can go to Bali for a week. I'm not exaggerating one bit. I'd actually save money in Bali.
And that's why I chose to stay home during the holidays. Many people have the misconception that traveling is expensive, and it is if you never take your vacation days and only travel when everyone else also has off work. So, I do the opposite. I stay home and get a lot of work done. And by work, yes, I mean work that allows me to keep a roof over my head, but also "work" as in all the errands I've been meaning to do, all the laundry, all the work outs, etc. It's a time for me to get my life situated and give myself some space, so that I'm ringing in the New Year in a centered, healthy way. Oh, it also gives me time to plan a vacation another time of the year that will be a huge bang for my buck.
With that said, the winter is the off season for many locations. If there's a place you've been wanting to go to that doesn't have a ski resort and isn't particularly warm, well, this is the time to go. My suggestion is to create a list of all the places you've wanted to go and then start searching different dates.