Everyone looks forward to the month of December, when their families and friends fly back home to celebrate Christmas together. Well, not the introvert, or anyone that feels squeamish at the thought of tacky jumpers, singing carols by the piano, and mince pies. To that we recommend one thing and one thing only—travel somewhere. And here’s a guide we’ve put together on how to survive holiday travel.
#1 Book as Far Ahead as Possible
The earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets tend to be. You may already know this, but as a Luxe Nomad bonus we’re going to explain why: The seats on a plane are divided into categories called buckets. Buckets go from cheapest to most expensive. As each bucket is filled, passengers are moved on to the next bucket. That’s why if you check the ticket price two weeks from now, it’s probably a lot higher.
Now the reason it gets more expensive is simple: who books flight tickets at the last minute? That’s right: people facing emergencies. A family member is sick, a client needs them to fly over, they’re American and Trump got elected, and so forth. Since these people will pay higher prices (they have no choice, it’s an emergency), the last-minute flight tickets always cost more.
#2 Don’t Put Money in the Overhead Compartment
In-flight theft is trending right now, and it mostly happens with cash stored in overhead compartments. So always take out the money and put it on your person. This is especially true if it’s a long-haul flight and you’re travelling alone; someone can rifle through your bags when you’re asleep or in the toilet.
As an aside, most travel insurance only covers up to about USD 150 to USD 170 in lost cash. Chances are you won’t even get that, because the police may not want to write the report (it didn’t happen in their jurisdiction), and you do need one to make a claim.
#3 Make Contingency Plans Just in Case
If you have a stopover in another country, and your connecting flight gets delayed, you may have no way to call home and let your relatives know. Well, not unless you can get a prepaid sim card at your stopover airport, and you may not be allowed out of the transit area to buy one.
So make a contingency plan. One way is to tell your family (or anyone waiting to pick you up at the airport) to check their emails—if anything goes wrong at the stopover, you can still use the airport’s wi-fi to email them.
Also, if you are about to land in a big airport (like Changi airport, which could probably secede and declare independence from Singapore if it grows any bigger), arrange a meeting point beforehand.
#4 Take a Photograph of Your Luggage
When your luggage goes missing, you’ll be asked to give a description of it. Size, brand, colour, and so forth. This is then handed to the baggage department, which has to sift through more stuff than a cargo ship collision on an hourly basis. Do them—and yourself—a favour by having a picture of your luggage. Snap it with your phone before checking it in. You’ll also find it useful if you land in a crowded airport, and you want the luggage porters / airport staff to help you out.
#5 Switch around the Departure Airport
When you’re comparing air ticket prices, remember to try different airports within the same city (if the city you’re in has different options). Airport taxes change all the time. Sometimes, it’s a lot cheaper to leave from one airport than from another. When flying out of New York, for example, you could check the price difference between flying out via John F. Kennedy or La Guardia. Of course, do factor in the cost of travelling to either.
#6 Check What Happens if You Need to Change Flight Timings
If you are booking via a website, like Priceline or Skyscanner, check the procedures for changing flight timings with the booking agent. You may want to change the date of your departure later; and if you try calling the airline company directly they may have different charges for altering your flight times.
Some booking agents also have steeper costs for changing flight times than others. So if you’re the sort who varies your departure date when having fun with relatives, make sure you get a flexible one.