Secrets for Stress-Free Winter Travel

Are you traveling for the holidays or taking a vacay this winter?

Whether to escape the cold for somewhere more tropical, or to hit the slopes for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding, it’s always nice to get away.

To help you have the best vacation possible, we tapped an expert – Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel – to share some advice on all things travel.

“If you’re searching for tips to help your winter travel a bit easier or just need an idea of where to go, consider it done!

I’ve picked up quite a bit of insider knowledge about how to find the best winter travel deals and how to get your family through airport security unscathed.”

Here are her best tips:

Choosing a Destination

Travel Local – We never appreciate what’s right in front of us, and the same is true for travel. Why not look to your home state for great getaways?  You won’t have to fly, so you’ll cut out the biggest expense (and headache), and you’ll support the local economy. Check out your state’s tourism website to find ideas for romantic, adventure and family travel – and deals from local hotels, restaurants and outfitters.

Consider a Cruise – If you tend to be the indecisive type, consider a cruise that allows you to hit several different destinations. For example, Royal Caribbean is re-introducing service from the Port of New Orleans (after a four year hiatus) and you can get a seven night cruise to the Western Caribbean can be as low as $600 per person for an ocean view cabin. It’s even cheaper if you go with an interior cabin!

Finding Deals

Get a Twitter Account! – Social media-savvy moms know to look for last-minute vacation deals via Twitter – and follow their favorite airlines to get flight updates. During the big storms last year, people who used Twitter actually reached airline customer service more quickly than travelers who used the phone.

Get a Flexible Travel Rewards Credit Card – Blackout dates can make it difficult to use frequent flyer rewards during the winter season. Some offer online booking tools that let you book flights on any airline – with no travel restrictions, blackout dates or foreign transaction fees.

Know When It’s Cheapest to Fly – Flying out on Thursday or Friday and back on Sunday is the most expensive time to travel. Save money by flying on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. It’s also a travel industry secret that there are a few “dead weeks” each year when you can find the best deals because almost no one is traveling. For example, one of those weeks is happening now – right after New Year’s (January 4 to the 10).

Surviving the Airport     

Pack Smart – If you’re not sure if a food item is a gel or liquid, pack it or ship it. I recently had a jar of peanut butter confiscated – it’s not a gel, liquid or aerosol, but I can definitely see why it was taken.

Know the TSA Rules – If you haven’t traveled since last winter or in the last few months, guess what? The TSA travel procedures have changed. But some good news – children 12 and under no longer have to remove their shoes. This allows for a smoother ride for families and travelers without children. A win-win.

Wherever you and your family are going this winter, I hope my tips will help you take some of the stress out of planning and traveling and leave you free to focus on spending some quality time with your kids.