New Year’s Eve and New Year’s weekend are among the busiest travel days in the year so brace yourself for crowded airports, delayed flights and snowstorms that can add a few hours – or days – to your travel itinerary. If you’re on a tight budget this year, look online for some last-minute deals and cheap airfare from budget airlines. Booking New Year’s packages at hotels and resorts in major cities at the last minute can help you save big bucks on your New Year’s getaway, and many properties offer free upgrades and premium services just to keep their rooms full through the weekend.
Whether you’re watching the ball drop in Times Square or jetting off to the islands for New Year’s, use these tips to prepare for travel over New Year’s Eve:
1. Ship gifts via UPS or FedEx. If you’re planning to take gifts along for the New Year’s celebration, ship them to your destination instead of packing them so you don’t have to carry extra luggage. This will help you avoid paying high checked baggage fees and reduce the risk of damage and lost luggage. This strategy can also help you speed through the baggage claim in a crowded airport that much faster.
2. Be flexible with your travel dates. One of the best ways to reduce travel costs over New Year’s Eve weekend is to book your inbound flight a few days before New Year’s and your outbound flight a few days after. Flying in and out outside of the peak travel window can lower the cost of airfare and might also help you get a lower-cost hotel room.
3. Book a connecting flight in a warm destination. Traveling over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s weekend means over half the country will be covered in snow. Take a close look at all connecting flights available on your route so that you can connect in a snow-free destination. Layovers in a warmer part of the country can be much more enjoyable during this stressful time of year!
4. Fly into an alternative airport. JFK, Chicago O’Hare and LAX are going to be among the busiest and most crowded airports over New Year’s Eve. If you don’t mind a short taxi ride to your hotel or final destination, fly into a nearby airport so that you can avoid the crowds altogether.
5. Arrive at the airport at least two to three hours before departure. It’s always a good idea to get to the airport at least an hour early for domestic flights, but New Year’s Eve travel plans demand an even earlier arrival. After you’ve fought your way through the crowds and made your way through security, you’ll need time to get to your terminal. Avoid the hassle of a missed flight and prepare to spend a few hours securing a seat at the boarding gate for a smooth New Year’s travel experience.