As the days cool and pumpkin spice dominates the store shelves, it’s time to add an important task to our to-do lists. Book holiday travel! Whether you’re visiting in-laws for Thanksgiving, trekking cross-country for Christmas dinner, or meeting friends for a New Year’s ski, you’re bound to spend an inordinate amount of time and money arranging flights and hotels. Not to mention the crowded airports and wintry weather delays. But travel hiccups shouldn’t detract from the magic and joy of the season! Keep scrolling for the secrets to easing stress and saving time and money on your holiday adventures.
1.) Find discounted airfare.
The number one source of anxiety for holiday travelers is price inflation. We all love a good deal, and it’s even more essential to find one this time of year. But the sheer number of travel sites and search engines is enough to overwhelm even the most experienced traveler. Enter Hopper, a free app that makes your booking experience so much smoother. Hopper tracks flight prices and uses that data to predict the optimal time to purchase your specific route. The app will also suggest alternative dates and times that will save you money. If you’re not ready to book right away, Hopper will notify you as prices rise or fall to help you make an informed buying decision.
2.) Choose the best seat.
While there is nothing comfortable about a cramped airplane chair, some seats are better than others. The trick is knowing which ones. Seat Guru is a free app that provides information about every seat available on your upcoming flight. I usually gravitate toward the window seat of an exit row. But on a recent flight of mine, Seat Guru noted that “This seat is less padded than other seats on this aircraft and has a slightly downward tilt, which can be uncomfortable.” Needless to say, I chose a more comfortable option. Seat Guru also warns about broken electrical outlets, missing recliners, seats without a window, and seats prone to being knocked by service carts. For those of you on longer journeys this season, Seat Guru is such a simple trick to maximize your comfort.
3.) Stay on top of your flight status.
For those of us with Type A personalities, traveling can be a challenge. We seek perfect information, and we like to be in control when possible. But when it comes to flying, there are so many external factors that we simply cannot influence. We’ll just have to settle for the next best thing. Flight Aware is a free app that shares your plane’s entire flight path before it picks you up. This is especially helpful for evening flights, where delays earlier in the day can delay your expected departure. This is difficult to track directly through the airline because flight numbers change throughout the day. Most recently, Flight Aware notified me that my plane was delayed along its flight path three hours before my airline updated its flight status. With this information, I had the foresight to snag a seat on the next flight before anyone else on my plane knew we were delayed. We can’t change the weather, but we can certainly plan around it if we have the right info.
4.) Get compensated for delays.
Tens of millions of people experience flights that are delayed, canceled, or overbooked every year. What they don’t realize is that they may be entitled to compensation from the airline, often up to $700 per flight! Others just don’t want to sit on the phone for hours to get it worked out. And who can blame them? Enter AirHelp, an app that does all of the legwork for you. When your travel plans are disrupted, AirHelp determines the compensation you are entitled to and performs the legal work to file and collect on the claim. And the best part? You won’t owe a dime unless AirHelp successfully returns the cash you deserve.
5.) Save money on a spontaneous hotel stay.
While I’m the first person to organize every hour of a trip, I admit that making spontaneous decisions can be exhilarating. And when it comes to hotel stays, they can save cash, too. With Hotel Tonight, you can book last minute hotel rooms for a steep discount up to one week out. When it comes down to the wire, hotels would rather earn some cash for their empty rooms than none at all. And as hotels load their unsold inventory, the app populates in real-time with the best deals. Hotel Tonight pre-screens all of its partner hotels and only offers rooms you’ll love.