If you follow us on Instagram, you know we’re almost always travelling somewhere in the world. From Tokyo to London, to New York to Chicago and back again, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be than travelling, gathering amazing experiences to share them with you.
As the days become shorter and the temperatures become colder, we too tend to spend more time fixating on vacation time, even if the destination is still undecided. Whether it’s planning your museum hopping, poolside sun tanning, or simply making a list of new shops to visit in a new city, the eventual possibility of time away motivates us all through those dark days of winter.
With the holiday season fast approaching, we’ve put together our top travel hacks in collaboration with KAYAK.com, to help prepare you for the busy season. If you’re unfamiliar with KAYAK, it is the world’s leading travel search engine, searching hundreds of other travel sites at once to help you find the right flight, hotel, rental car or vacation package. We’ve put all these tips, tricks, and tools to the test first hand, in our worldly adventures, so you can trust us when we say they’ll save you time, money, and stress.
With these hacks in mind we’re confident you’ll be better equipped to plan, book, and enter vacation mode without the usual stresses.
1. PLAN YOUR OUTFITS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Packing light might be a no brainer for some, but even the most seasoned travelers still struggle with tipping the scales, especially if you’re hauling gifts with you. First off, go ahead and plan your packing around the different holiday occasions you already know you’ll be attending. Whether it’s an ugly Christmas sweater, a pair of plaid pajamas or a shimmery dress for New Year’s Eve, take the time to think about where you’ll be wearing your outfits (and take photos in case you forget) to save space in your suitcase, and any indecision later when getting dressed.
Not only will you save yourself the panic of arriving unprepared, you might even discover you need a new bathing suit or party dress before you touch down. Plan your casual outfits too, so you can be Instagram ready even when you’re just being #casual.
Finally, leave your carry on at home this holiday. Not only will you have a little extra wiggle room to bring some new items home, you don’t have to hustle your carry on around or worry about checking your bag at the gate if there isn’t space in the overhead bins.
Airports are always busy around the holidays and sometimes it seems like there’s no way to avoid the inevitable line ups and flight delays. Holiday madness aside, one of our travel hacks is to avoid taking the first or last flights of the day, opting instead to travel midday, when most people are at their jobs.
We get it, when you’re heading off on vacation, you’re excited and you want it to start right away, but instead of booking that 8am flight or the post work hour evening flight to maximize your time, head out midday, so you can allow for a margin of time in the event you get delayed. Not only will you save the time fighting rush hour traffic (and money you’ll likely spend on a surging Uber or cab), but you’re more likely to avoid air traffic delays as well.
3. SET PRICE ALERTS
Chances are, you probably have a few places left on your bucket list. Or maybe you’ve got an extra week off over the holiday season and you’re torn on where to spend it.
Using KAYAK’s handy price alerts you can unlock travel destinations or accommodations you never thought you could possibly afford without having to check daily. Simply set an alert for a particular time frame, destination, or hotel and KAYAK notifies you when prices change via text or email. Plus, you’ll have peace of at mind knowing you’ll never miss out on an awesome deal.
Who knows, maybe you’ll keep the holidays spontaneous and score a last minute trip somewhere for New Years Eve! Or, if you’re super A Type and need to plan out every inch of your trip way in advance, use KAYAK in conjunction with Price Alerts to get everything from flights to car rentals and hotels locked down all in one place and access its free itinerary management tool called Trips to keep all of your confirmation numbers and travel details organized, it’s a game changer.
4. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE BOXING DAY
These days everyone is getting into the boxing day spirit. But that doesn’t always mean getting off the couch and facing the crowds in-store. Many airlines, hotels, and vacation sites also host boxing day sales much like retail stores do, so be sure to cruise the internet on the 26th and you might just score an amazing getaway.
Pro Tip: combine what you learned about price alerts in hack #3 for post-holiday travel and you might just get even more savings.
5. PACK IMMUNITY BOOSTERS
We’re no strangers to the holiday cold and flu season. If you’re planning to travel during high traffic times, you’ll need to take extra precautions besides washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. Think natural immunity boosters like Oil of Oregano, Vitamin C and Echinacea as preventative measures in the week leading into your trip and immunity boosters when you’re feeling a little tickle in your throat.
Especially around the holiday season, we always pick up a couple natural immunity boosters from our local cold pressed juice bar to give all the recycled air the extra kick away in-flight. Plus, most shops make them in shot size formats so you don’t have worry about going over airport liquid restrictions.
6. SWITCH TO A CREDIT CARD THAT EARNS YOU MILES
Ever wonder how people get priority boarding (hello empty overhead bins) or end up with a business class upgrade? These benefits aren’t just for those who travel regularly, you too can attain preferred status on your airline alliance by switching to a credit card that earns you miles at places you probably already shop. This is especially beneficial (and somewhat selfish) behavior during the holiday season when you’re probably spending more than you usually would on gifts and party fixings.
Most cards come with free signing bonus miles and work on a dollars to points system, so you earn miles on every purchase and bonus points on everyday items like gas, groceries, and of course travel bookings. Not only will you be working your way to a free flight but you’ll be one step closer to obtaining status too. You’ll also save on insurance costs when you travel since most cards come with built in benefits like cancellation, medical, and other insurance if your trip is booked using said card. Some reward programs also allow you to purchase miles to get to the next level faster.
7. INSTA CREEP BEFORE YOU BOOK
Sometimes photos on a restaurant or hotels websites can paint an unrealistic picture of the food or atmosphere. Take the time to creep them on Instagram first, so you’re not wasting any of your holiday feeling disappointed. Chances are, you already do this on weekends when you’re scrolling through Instagram looking for a place to have brunch, so why not hit up the ‘places’ tab and let other people’s photos help steer your decisions this season.
You can quickly judge everything by the types of people frequenting a spot, how consistent or photogenic their food is, and even tell if it’s a good time or not depending on people’s facial reactions.
Hot tip! Head to the location tag on Instagram Stories as well same day (especially if they don’t take reservations) so you can gauge how busy it is.
8. BE RESPECTFUL & CALM
Airports are busy often somewhat stressful places for most people and there’s nothing worse than witnessing someone panic or behave rudely. Stop for a second and think about your surroundings and how your actions will affect those around you, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly people respond with anger and entitlement when travelling. This could be anything from taking up an extra seat with your bags, getting upset at a customer service agent, or lining up at the gate before your zone number is called creating confusion.
If you always remember to stay calm, be courteous, and wait your turn and give people space when travelling, you’ll be surprised at how at how smoothly everything will go, and how good you’ll feel knowing you’re not contributing to the chaos that can sometimes take place.
Start planning your holiday travel now on KAYAK.com.