Holiday travel is still fraught with delays and setbacks: plan ahead.
The holiday season still means long lines at the airports and many delayed flights. AAA projected 43.6 million Americans traveled this past Thanksgiving, marking the fourth consecutive year of increasing numbers of holiday travelers. Unsurprisingly, travelers report that airports are the most stressful part of the trip.
- While the number of mishandled luggage has dropped, fliers should still be wary of checking in baggage during the holidays. Airlines report mishandled luggage rates over 30% higher than normal in December and January for the past 3 years, and it doesn’t seem like this year will be any different.
- Not all days are equally ideal for flying. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving record dismal on-time rates, as does December 22nd. Consistent with previous years, flying out on less popular days with better on-time arrival rates – like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – will save you time at the airport.
- To help ease stress during holiday travel, TravelNerd has launched a free airport guide app that pinpoints the specific areas where passengers run into problems. It features door-to-door ground transportation options, airport parking lot information and coupons and detailed terminal information.
Roadtrips are back in style.
Travelers are now turning to the road and alternative lodging options in the wake of high airline and hotel prices.
- RVs may seem like an economical option since roadtrippers won’t have to pay hotel prices. However, we found that it’s actually cheaper to stay in a hotel if you are traveling with less than four people. Gas prices can be high, and RVs are not fuel efficient.
- Ditch the RV and get in a car. TravelNerd has spent a summer dreaming of hitting the road. We have tips for how to plan a fool-proof roadtrip and mapped out the best roadtrip routes America has to offer.
Consumers continue to be gouged by travel industry’s hidden fees.
Airlines, hotels and cruises are unbundling their services so perks that used to be included in the base price are now considered “extras” and require additional fees. Airlines have definitely dominated the news with their infamous baggage fees, but hotels and cruises are getting in on the action too.
- Airlines have maximized their profits with check-in baggage fees, and some budget airlines are turning their focus to carry-on baggage fees. Spirit Airlines has the most fees, with a much-publicized $100 fee to gate-check a bag.
- How lucrative is this business? Spirit Airlines has made a whopping $142 million just on their Passenger Usage Fee, a hidden booking fee.
- While airline fees have gotten the most buzz this year, hotels and cruises have also started to unbundle their prices. Cruises, once advertised as an all-inclusive travel deal, are now charging passengers extra fees for beverages, Wi-Fi and gratuities. The Federal Trade Commission has sent out a warning letter to 28 hotel operators about their use of unbundled, where mandatory fees (like a resort fee) are marketed as extras and are not included in the displayed price.
Travel is going mobile.
People on-the-go are now using their smart phones to track and plan every part of their trip. The mobile market has boomed, and smartphones dominate over 50% of the US phone market.
- The new iPhone 5 made a splash with travelers this year with a larger screen and improved camera (perfect for taking panoramic photos), new Apple maps and the handy-dandy Passbook application (to sort all your tickets). It’s not only smart phones. Tablets have shown huge growth in 2012.
- With so many different technological options, it can be hard to figure out what is the best to bring along. We sorted out the pros and cons so you know exactly what fits your traveler profile.
- Of course, the appeal of the iPhone lies in their numerous apps. TravelNerd has gathered our top 10 apps essential for every traveler.
Check out the rest of NerdWallet’s 2012 round-ups
- 2012 in Review: College Edition
- 2012 in Review: Personal Finance Edition
- 2012 in Review: Investing Edition
- 2012 in Review: Shopping Edition
- 2012 in Review: Banking Edition
Photo credit: 2013 new year from Shutterstock