Fly through holiday travel with ease


(Family Features) For many, travel is as essential to holiday festivities as the jolly old elf himself. Heeding the advice of seasoned travel pros can help take the headache and hassle out of your holiday travel this year.


Saving time and finding travel options to fit your budget are especially important this time of year. Fortunately, websites and mobile apps, such as Hipmunk, can help by comparing travel sites to show the perfect flight, hotel or vacation rental at the cheapest price.


From timing your ticket purchases right to alternative options when it comes to lodging, the experts at Hipmunk offer these tips to help you tackle this year’s travel planning with a smart strategy.


Know when to buy airfare and book hotels. Book flights early, but wait on hotels. Flight prices steadily increase as the holiday grows near, while hotel prices decrease in the months leading up to the holiday. Book Thanksgiving hotels in November and Christmas hotels in December.


Use specialty filters to organize your flight options. At Hipmunk, you can use an “agony” filter to sort flights by price, duration and number of layovers so you can easily identify the most convenient one.


Avoid delays by taking the first flight out in the morning. The plane should already be at the airport, so there’s less chance of a delay due to cleaning, de-boarding or a late incoming flight.


Purchase a day pass to an airport lounge. If you do experience significant delays or cancelled flights, a lounge will let you avoid the insanity of the terminals. Most offer a comfortable and quiet place to de-stress with complimentary snacks, beverages, wi-fi and even showers. Passes typically cost about $50.


If traveling with your family or a group of friends, consider a vacation rental. You’ll have the comforts of home (washer/dryer, refrigerator, microwave, etc.), which could save your sanity and even a few bucks. Hipmunk shows Airbnb and Homeaway vacation rentals in hotel searches so you can easily see which option is best for you.


If traveling regionally, consider traveling by train. Train stations are often less hectic than airports, and you still get the convenience of not having to drive yourself. Flight searches using Hipmunk will show you Amtrak options in areas where you can get to your destination by train.


Most dilemmas can be solved with a smartphone. Whether you need to get directions, book a rental car or download last minute reading material, your phone is your best resource on the road. Stay charged with external batteries (remember to charge them the night before) and book flights on planes that feature power outlets.


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