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More than 46 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, according to a recent forecast from AAA, and that means busy roadways, packed airport terminals and plenty of work for travel advisors. Jaime Femreite, a Travel Leaders’ agent in Richland, Wash., who specializes in Hawaii, Mexico, cruise and Disney-related travel, spoke with TravelAge West about how families can better navigate the crowds this time of year.
Tip No. 1: Make bookings early.It’s never too early to reserve a hotel room or plane seat when it comes to holiday travel, Femreite says — she’s worked with clients up to 11 months in advance. That means if you missed out on a trek this year, you might want to get started on plans for 2016.
“Not only does booking early get you the best prices, it also allows for a better selection of flights and hotels,” she said. “Booking holiday travel at the last minute will most likely be more expensive, or worst-case scenario, not even be available.”
Tip No. 2: Don’t disregard travel insurance.Femreite always recommends that her clients purchase travel insurance, especially during winter holiday travel. Weather delays and larger-than-usual crowds are among reasons that schedules fluctuate this time of year. In some cases, having insurance to rearrange your plans comes in handy.
Tip No. 3: Double-check your documentation.It’s no fun to be turned away at the airport for incorrect paperwork. Femreite suggests looking over all documentation carefully — and then doing so again.
“Some countries have very specific passport expiration requirements, for example,” Femreite said. “Depending on where you’re going, your passport may need to be valid six months beyond your date of travel, so it is important to check these as soon as your travel plans even become an idea.”
Tip No. 4: Verify if you need a consent form when traveling with children.“If one parent is traveling internationally with children, make sure you have proper authorization for that trip,” Femreite said. “There needs to be a notarized consent form from the other parent in order for the minor to travel out of the country.”
Tip No. 5: Put your travel agent on speed dial. “We can’t help you if we don’t know what is going on,” Femreite said. “We can sometimes rebook a delayed or missed flight in minutes by just making a simple phone call. Who wants to stand in line at the airport for hours — especially with kids — when your travel agent is just a phone call away?”