Think Insights, Google’s resource hub for marketers, has classified travel decision-making process into five stages: dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. The research, done with surveys among 5.000 US consumers between March and April 2011, gives insight about travellers behaviour and concludes that there is potential for innovation in the travel industry, particularly in the early stages of dreaming and planning the trip, and in the final stage, sharing the holiday experience. Here are some of the findings from Google’s study.
68% of business travellers and 46% of leisure travellers watch travel-related videos on desktop or mobile device.
The internet is the main source for planning holidays for 85% of leisure travellers and 78% of business travellers.
Within internet, search engines are the main source for planning holidays (64% use it). Travel review sites, social networking sites and video sites are experimenting big increases.
The average traveller visits 22 travel-related websites before booking.
37% of leisure travellers report that the internet prompted them to book a holiday.
70% of business travellers and 53% of leisure travellers check into their flight, hotel, cruise… with their mobile device.
49% of leisure travellers and 57% of business travellers enjoy reading holiday experiences of other people.
Family and friends prepare to fly out to enjoy the Christmas holidays. Make it easy this year by trying to avoid the busiest travel days and follow some easy recommendations to avoid long queues at your place of departure. These useful tips will help you to relax and enjoy the Christmas holiday period.
Do not wrap gifts
It would be better to wrap the gifts when you arrive at your destination, especially if you want to carry them on the plane. Your hand baggage may have to be opened for any security inspection that may be required and gifts would then need to be unwrapped. Also be advised to check the hand baggage restrictions before coming to the airport because it would be a shame if a gift has to be left behind.
Be informed and use the web
Just before the journey starts double check the route to make sure that everything is fine. Apart from visiting the train/airline company’s website or calling the customer service, nowadays many of them use social media services to inform their passengers. Also take weather conditions into account when planning your trip and visit the Met Office website for that purpose.
Don’t miss your holidays for 30 minutes of your life. During peak travel times you will face long queues in the airports, crowded trains and congestion on motorways and major roads. Try to anticipate all those problems by arriving at your place of departure earlier than usual. Remember that airlines recommend arriving at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight departs.
During the Christmas period, making this 3 hours will make the experience less stressful. If you live close enough to the airport to be flexible when you depart from home, check the airport departures to see if your flight is delayed. You may be able to have a cup of tea at home rather than wait at the airport.
Select the appropriate transport mode
Rail, road or air transport? It depends on your destination and the time you have. You should take in consideration how well connected is your journey before making a decision.
If you’re spending the Christmas holidays abroad you don’t have many choices: a flight will be the faster option. Air passengers should find out whether public transport is running to and from airports because there are disruptions during the Christmas period.
Train travel in the UK is a cheap alternative to flight and more secure than a car when the weather conditions are not good enough. If your are travelling long distances book a seat as soon as possible to ensure a comfortable journey. For more details of the train services available on Christmas see the National Rail Enquiries Christmas travel summary.
Finally, if you decide to travel by car check the Highways Agency website for restrictions or temporary speed limits application because of roadworks over Christmas.
Avoid peak travel days
With Christmas Eve falling on Saturday this year many people may begin the big getaway the Friday before. Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th are Bank Holidays because Christmas Day falls on the weekend so those days will be busy at the airports.
On the roads, over the holiday period all major routes from central London to the motorways are likely to be busy. Again, stay updated on the Highways Agency website to avoid congestion.
The same will happen with the train stations. As the Christmas getaway coincides with the weekend there will be long queues in the train stations and other transport hubs.
If you have the possibility to extend your holiday time to the end of the week and come back on either the 28th or the 29th you will avoid congestion.
Know your passenger rights
As a passenger you may be entitled to compensation if you are denied boarding onto a flight or the airline has ceased trading as long as your holiday is protected by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL). Also, regardless of the mode of transport you use, you are protected by the European Union if you are flying within the EU or on an EU airline and your flight is overbooked, delayed or cancelled.
Christmas holidays ideas
Still looking for a Christmas holiday destination? Have a look at our Christmas breaks ideas and choose the most appropriate accommodation for you and your family or friends. There are plenty of options for an unforgettable Christmas: from a winter wonderland location like Switzerland or the US, to a relaxing winter sun in the Caribbean or the Canary Islands.
Are you looking for an island in the sun where you can swim in turquoise water, sip on cocktails and enjoy fresh seafood delights? If you’re a beach bum in search of the world’s best holiday spots, a couple looking for a romantic holiday in the sun, or just a traveller whose main purpose is to avoid winter, here is our pick of top 10 island destinations.
10. Bali, Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Bali is known as “The Island of the Gods” and when you survey the beautiful and diverse landscape it’s not hard to believe something Divine created the island. The paradise island is home to picturesque mountains, fertile rice terraces that cling to hillsides, and attractive coastlines. In 2010 Bali won Travel + Leisure magazine’s Best Island award, thanks to the beautiful surroundings, wide range of tourist attractions, friendly locals and an excellent variety of local and international restaurants. Spend lazy days on the beach at Jimbaran, join the surfers at Kuta beach and enjoy the upmarket restaurants at Seminyak. Experience the colourful and deeply spiritual culture of Bali by visiting the Buddhist monastery Brahma Vihara Arama, taking a dip in the Banjar Hot Springs, or visiting the peaceful Ulun Danu Temple complex at Lake Bratan. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even climb the volcanic Mount Batur, which periodically produces slightly disturbing noises and plumes of smoke.
9. Koh Samui, Thailand
Like many of its South East Asia neighbours, Thailand also has its fair share of beautiful islands. One of Thailand’s holiday hotspots is the stunning island of Koh Samui (Ko Samui). Located in the Gulf of Thailand this is a scuba divers paradise. The crystal clear water and fabulous coral in the nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park draw millions of tourists each year. Koh Samui is the perfect place to soak up the sun, with a variety of beautiful beaches to choose from including the popular Cheweng Beach, Budda Beach and Mae Nam. When you’re not relaxing on the beach you can spend your time sampling local cuisine and exploring the delightful Thai villages, temples and gardens.
The island paradise of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean and is blessed with world famous white coral beaches and clear warm water that will delight any beach lover. The beaches at Grand Bay, Belle Mare and Pereybere are the perfect place to swim, snorkel, and go jet skiing, sailing or windsurfing. Enjoy fabulous, fresh seafood as the friendly locals bring in the catch-of-the-day, see the rare flora and fauna in the Black River Gorges National Park, visit the bustling markets in Port Louis, and play a round of golf at the world-class Le Touessrok Golf Course. The beautiful sub-tropical climate of Mauritius means that it’s the perfect island getaway year round.
7. Maui, Hawaii
The Hawaiian island of Maui has all the ingredients for a fabulous island holiday. Holidays in Maui mean you’ll have plenty of opportunity to experience some of the best of Hawaii. Snorkel at Black Rock near Kaanapali Beach, take a road trip on the picturesque Hana Highway, do some whale watching from Lahaina, hike in Haleakala National Park and enjoy a buffet dinner and traditional Hawaiian dancing at a luau.
6. Santorini, Greece
It may not have soft powdery beaches, palm trees and crystal clear water, but the Greek island of Santorini is something quite extraordinary. The whitewashed villages of Thira, Imerovigli, Firastefani and Oia are perched high above the sea, clinging to the hillside and have bustling shops, taverns, hotels and cafes that line narrow cobblestone streets. Here you can relax on the black sandy beaches of Perivolos, Perissa and Cape Columbo, learn about the history of the island at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, tour a local winery and watch incredible sunsets from Oia.
The island of Barbados is located in the Caribbean and is a place where luxury and relaxation are top priority. Spend a day on the fine white sandy beaches, snorkel around the coral reefs, go wreck diving under warm turquoise water, sip on a rum punch, take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Welchman Hall Gully, tour Sunbury Plantation House and take a day trip to the neighbouring island of Dominica, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. The bustling towns, friendly locals and wide variety of activities available make Barbados an ideal island holiday destination.
The sun-drenched Bahamas are made up of around 2000 islands, cays and islets, surrounded by warm, clear water that teems with life. The Bahamas offer a wide range of world-class activities and stunning beaches. It’s the perfect place for water sports like snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking and deep-sea fishing. Take an island-hopping boat tour, go on a wild dolphin excursion, take a Bacardi Rum factory tour, see iguanas, Caribbean parrots and colourful orchids along the Bimini Nature Hiking Trail, go shopping on Grand Bahama, and enjoy and evening of Calypso music. The Bahamas are bursting with colour, music and character, and enjoy lovely warm weather throughout the year making it an ideal island holiday spot.
3. US Virgin Islands
The pristine beaches of the US Virgin Islands are the perfect place to laze in the sun or go sailing, snorkeling, kayaking and water skiing. These Caribbean islands consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas and some smaller islands. Visit Paradise Point and take a tramway for some stunning views of Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the rest of the island, visit a wildlife refuge in St. Croix, relax on the beautiful beach at Cramer Park, take a stroll through St. George Botanical Garden and walk along Annaberg Trail on St. John.
2. The Seychelles
The 115 islands that make up the Seychelles are something dreams are made. They are little slice of heaven and once you’ve experienced the perfect paradise of the Seychelles you may find it hard to get back on the plane when it’s time to go home. The islands are located off the east coast of Africa and are home to some of the world’s most exquisite beaches of soft white sand sandwiched between crystal clear water, smooth boulders and swaying palms. The warm waters are perfect for swimming, sailing and snorkelling. Take a glass-bottom boat to Baie Ternay, hike along the coastline from Beau Vallon to Anse Major, visit the Vallee de Mai national park, take a tour of a colonial Creole-style plantation house and shop at the bustling market in downtown Victoria. The best time to visit the Seychelles is during from May to September, when temperatures are pleasant and there isn’t too much rain.
1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “island paradise” is tropical bungalows built over water, then Bora Bora is the place for you. The island is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, which is not surprising. What’s more romantic than spending time in a postcard perfect island? Here you can relax on the beach while sipping a Tahitian cocktail, snorkel, enjoy the best seafood, and even take a dip in the ocean right from your bungalow. It’ll be easy to forget your troubles when you’re surrounded by the serenity and beauty of Bora Bora. It doesn’t get much better than this little slice of heaven.
Stretched out in the desert landscape of Nevada, USA, is Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. The city is a playground of bright lights, neon signs, glitzy hotels, legendary casinos and old-fashioned gambling hospitality. If you’re a group of friends or a couple looking for a fun-filled holiday itinerary of shopping, shows, gambling and nightlife why not let loose in Las Vegas?
Try your Luck on the Strip
Feeling lucky? You can discover the Vegas of your dreams on Las Vegas Boulevard, which is known as the “Strip”. The Strip is lined with impressive hotel-casinos, shopping malls, and other attractions. Las Vegas casinos are some of the most famous in the world and no trip to Vegas would be complete without trying your hand at craps or blackjack. Famous Las Vegas casinos include the Luxor, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Wynn, Mandalay Bay and Caesars Palace.
5 Things you can’t Miss
There is so much to do and see in Las Vegas, but there are five things that no visitor to Las Vegas should miss:
Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. This half-size replica of the original lights up the night sky and offers spectacular views of city from the top-floor observation deck. The 11th floor Eiffel Tower Restaurant offers delightful French cuisine that you can try out on your way down. The Paris Las Vegas resort also has scaled-down replicas of the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre façade and the Paris Opera House.
The Bellagio Fountain Show. Every day at 30-minute intervals, over a thousand fountains at the Bellagio Hotel dance to music ranging from Pavarotti to Sinatra. The dramatic combination of water, music and light create a spectacular show that will be one of the highlights of your trip to Las Vegas.
Cirque du Soleil Show. There are several Cirque du Soleil Shows in various locations in Las Vegas. The shows are full of amazing feats, impressive costumes and are well worth the cost. If Cirque du Soleil doesn’t appeal to you there are plenty of other production, comedy and magic shows you can catch.
Fremont Street Experience. Located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas is the historic Fremont Street, which is home to casinos, shops, restaurants, roaming street performers and free entertainment. It’s a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience.
Welcome to Vegas Sign. You can’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo of the famous “Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas” sign at 1500 Las Vegas Boulevard South. The sign is on the National Register of Historic Places and has become a Vegas icon.
If you hire a car you can take a drive to Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert, just 25 minutes from Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon is only 4 hours away by car and is well worth the drive. On the way there you’ll get to see the famous Hoover Dam. Death Valley is a 2-hour drive away, and Los Angeles is a 4-hour drive away.
Las Vegas is an oasis in a desert landscape where you can experience unrivalled entertainment and an electric-charged atmosphere. Until you are actually there it is impossible to imagine just how fabulous Las Vegas really is.
People normally wait until the last minute to catch their flight. Especially if you are travelling with kids you need to avoid the busiest travel days.
Worst Thanksgiving travel days
By far the worst days are the day before Thanksgiving (November 23rd) and the Sunday after (November 27th). Other bad days that may be crowded in the airports are the Tuesday afternoon/evening before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving morning and, finally, the Saturday after the holiday.
Best Thanksgiving travel days
So, what are the less crowded days to travel on Thanksgiving? Ideally, the best thing you can do is to take a few days off at work and fly out before Thanksgiving week and fly back the Tuesday after the holiday. But if you don’t have that chance then you should book the leaving flight for the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving, or even later on the Thanksgiving Day itself. The return flight on the Friday or the Monday after the holiday could be a good solution.
Most overcrowded airports this Thanksgiving
Airports are the last place you would likely to be in a peak travel period like Thanksgiving. The top five busiest airports in the US during those days will be:
Los Angeles International (LAX)
Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
Orlando International (MCO)
San Francisco International (SFO)
Boston Logan International (BOS)
This list was put together by travel website Orbitz.com. Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) and Atlanta’s Hartsfield International (ATL) airports fell off the busiest top ten list this year so good news for those travelling via them.
The three main destination airports for UK travellers (JFK, La Guardia and Newark, all of them in New York) also appear among the busiest airports in Thanksgiving. Therefore you can also expect queues and delays in airports with direct flights to the US like Heathrow, or with flight connections with that country like Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester.
Are you heading to the US this Thanksgiving? Think any other airport is busier? Share your thoughts in the comments below.