holiday travel tips

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The holidays are stressful enough without throwing travel drama in, but more often than not, there’s some travel involved in getting to your destination. Thankfully, technology makes things a little easier now, whether it’s enabling faster phone calls to be made, or tapping in an alternate route in a GPS app. I’ve made heavy use of tons of travel tips both to make the trip easier as well as rerouting or rebooking when flights are delayed, so I’m sharing some ideas here as we get ready to head out for another round of holiday travel!

If your flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, the airline won’t comp you a hotel room, but agents will have vouchers with specific discount codes for the airport hotels. It’s worth waiting in line to grab those, and the sheet will have all the steps to redeem the discount. (Pay attention to why your specific flight is canceled, and don’t assume that it’s based on weather – in my only canceled flight story, the agent rebooked me and tried to push me away with the discount code, but I had overheard that my flight was canceled due to mechanical issues. They bussed me out to a fancy five star golf resort, where my total bill for the day and a half was $14.53 for pizza that I had delivered – which I ate in the super luxe hotel robe.)

Apps to download for flights: Be sure to download the app for the airline you’re flying (for entertainment and travel info, as well as rebooking if necessary.) I love Hipmunk when booking initial travel, and it also comes in handy to check for alternate routes in case of delays or cancellations (the more research you’re able to do before making it to an agent to rebook, the faster the process will be.) Even if the gate agents hand out hotel discounts, be sure to check HotelsTonight to see if there might be a cheaper rate available through them. Airports can be pretty hard to navigate, so download an app that features maps like GateGuru or App in the Air to find your way to the coffee joint of your choice.

Driving a long distance? Be sure to download media to your phone to enjoy in the inevitable dead zone you’ll hit. Spotify’s premium service lets you download local files, as does Hoopla. Lately, I’ve been catching up on my podcasts during my drives. Gas typically goes way up around major holidays, but you can shave a little off there by getting discount gift cards for the gas stations you use most often. I’m also a really big fan of packing road food at home, so you spend less on fast food along the way (plus it’s a little cheaper!)

Keep your tank full too – both gas in your car, and snacks for yourself. Now that I’m back up here in the north, we’ve had some pretty gnarly snow storms this year, and last week I saw friends of mine stuck on the road overnight. Just in case it happens and you can’t jump onto back roads, a stash of Clif bars and a bottle of water can go a long way. Filling your tank more often than you normally might and keeping your devices charged will also help in case you run into a monster traffic jam or severe weather.

Apps to download for road tripsGasBuddy has been one of my favorite websites even before apps to be sure I’m getting the best price possible on gas when I fill up. If you’re particular about the facilities you’ll hit, SitorSquat offers reviews of restroom cleanliness along the road, as well as other amenities around. HotelsTonight is a great app to have handy just in case a winter storm comes into play and you need to duck off into a hotel for a few hours. Google Maps and Waze are also super important – though I still have a vendetta against Waze from the time it took me two hours of of my way and refuse to use it, I can see why people enjoy it. I’m a diehard Google Maps fan, and that app just keeps getting better. Scout is another app with GPS features that also combines social features to communicate with friends and family, and lets you easily send ETAs without managing several apps.

What are your best travel tips? Are you a fan of a particular navigation product?

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