Planning the Perfect Holiday Adventure

The upcoming holiday stretch from Thanksgiving to the New Year is a busy travel time for many of us, whether driving down the road to Grandma’s to celebrate with family or flying halfway around the world for a winter vacation. To help plan your getaways, we’ve got tips from our last #TripItChat on Twitter, which was chock full of holiday travel tips for travelers of every sensibility.

Here are the top tips and inspirational ideas to make this year’s holiday getaway your best yet:

Destinations: Should I stay or should I go?

For some people, holiday travel can be a chore, but done the right way it can also be a lot of fun.

  • Most #TripItChat participants stay close to family over the holidays, but planning a special vacation over the holidays every now and then was also a popular choice.
  • @Laurberry9 says she usually stays at home for the holidays, but this year she and her family are visiting New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • Chat co-host @LeeAbbamonte was the most extreme: He’s heading to Antarctica over Thanksgiving.
  • Despite the festive allure (and inspiration from Lee) of the North and South Poles, the most popular destinations were Christmastime trips to Europe for the markets or flying somewhere warm, like Mexico to escape the cold December winds.

Airfare: Timing is everything

One of the biggest sources of anxiety for any traveler is knowing when to book airfare to get the best deal possible. Prices on booking sites are hard to predict, leaving many of us confused and worried. Luckily we had some great experts take part in our chat and they offered fantastic advice for scoring the best holiday travel deals.

  • TripIt users know to always book early, then use TripIt Pro to catch price drops. This will save you both anxiety and money.
  • Travel expert and co-host @ThePointsGuy shared with chat participants that mid-October is actually the best time to book holiday airfare if you want to guarantee a seat at a reasonable price.
  • If you can hold out, co-host @MiddleSeatView advised people wait for those inevitable last minute deals that are almost always a great bargain. However, to take advantage of those, you must be patient and flexible with no definite plans in mind.

Climate: Sun or snow?

The TripIt chat participants all agreed that they love to travel over the holidays, but opinions were decidedly mixed when it came to choosing a destination. In fact, many travelers choose a climate that’s the polar opposite from what they experience at home!

  • Users like @meagano70301, @samtravelled and @motherofalltrip prefer cold, wintery weather, allured by winter sports like skiing and snowboarding – and said the snowfall actually enhances their holiday experience. (As someone who has spent several Christmases touring Europe’s markets, I can attest to how true this is.)
  • Cold isn’t for everyone though, and many users said they use the holidays as a chance to escape the harsh elements. @NYgal33, @turnipseeds and @Breathedreamgo all say they get more than enough cold weather at home – so over the holidays, they head for the nearest sunny beach in order to relax. No matter what your preference is, both travel types can take advantage of frequent flier miles to make their holiday travel dreams a reality.

Travel Points: More miles, more fun

If #TripItChat participants love one thing, it’s accruing (and redeeming!) frequent flier miles. When asked about end of the year tricks, the tips were flying too.

  • Several folks had the great idea to maximize their miles when doing holiday shopping. If you have a mileage credit card, be sure to use it when buying those expensive presents. Also try to use the online shopping portals most airlines offer to easily earn miles on gifts you’re already planning to buy. If you plan ahead, you can really see those miles jump up during the holidays.
  • Redeeming miles is another story, and many times people find it hard to avoid blackout dates and other restrictions, especially during the holidays. Not all airlines have the same policies; if you plan ahead, you can probably find award travel even over those busy travel days. Even better, flying on the actual holiday itself is often a breeze since many travelers have already arrived at their destinations. You may be able to find some great deals and award seats on these days, especially.
  • Alternatively, many people decide to do some good and donate their miles to a worthy cause – especially miles that are sitting unused or approaching expiration. This year, TripIt is making that easier than ever through their miles charity drive for the Make a Wish Foundation. To learn more about this important initiative, please visit tripit.com/gift.

Self-Preservation: Battling the crowds

The one thing we all hate, especially over the holidays, is battling crowds. Whether that means spending hours in a TSA line at the airport or tripping over tourists once you arrive at your destination, no one likes to deal with a crush of humanity when they’re on the road.

  • To avoid this, the experts once again suggested traveling on the main holiday itself if possible as the airport crowds are pretty thin.
  • If you’re worried about too many tourists where you’re going, be sure to choose off-season destinations. @SnarkyNomad suggested Europe, saying that his Christmastime experience in Italy was fantastic due to the low number of tourists. Weather in Europe in December may not be for everyone, but the cold temperatures and overcast skies keeps many away, making it the best time to see the Old World’s most famous sites.
  • Tropical hotspots like Mexico and the Caribbean, however, are packed with travelers trying to get some holiday sun and can be overwhelming at times.

Getaways: Dare to dream

Whether or not people actually use the holidays to plan a great vacation, most of the TripIt chat participants definitely had dream holiday trips in mind. If money and time were no object, they would travel everywhere from the bottom of the world to the tops of the best ski slopes.

  • For @therebelchick that means Christmas in Paris, while to @redfuzzycow it’s a sail to Fiji.
  • Several people listed Iceland as their dream holiday travel spot.
  • One of the best and most heartwarming answers though came from @JR_justJR who said his dream location is to have family, friends, good food and fun with him. The where doesn’t matter as long as he has all of those ingredients for the perfect holiday.

Still have questions about holiday travel – and ways to make it even more special? Don’t forget to join us for the next #TripItChat on November 21st, 2013 at 2:00PM Pacific/5:00PM Eastern when we will be talking about Travel Perks!

What is a Twitter chat? For those not familiar, TripIt holds a monthly chat on Twitter on the third Thursday of each month from 2-3pm Pacific Time on the hashtag #TripItChat. Every month there’s a new travel topic where we encourage participants to share advice with one another. To learn more, please see: http://landlopers.com/2013/05/01/tripitchat/