No, it’s not really a nightmare. Not for most of us.
The vast majority who still enjoy it, we mean.
But the holiday season is not quite over yet.
And do you have plans for the New Year?
It’s still a part of the holiday travel season.
An important part.
And if you’re not part of the travel industry, you might not know it…
…But this is tourism’s favorite time of the year.
The crowds. Big crowds.
It may not be your own favorite, however.
And no matter how experienced you are with coming here, it can’t hurt to consider some of what we think is the best advice (particularly at this time of year).
Something to keep in mind
The largest crowds travel between Christmas and New Year’s.
So you perhaps need a strategy.
Even more so than other times of the year.
If you’re here in Orlando at the theme parks, we have some suggestions.
And some more for holiday travel in general. But many of our suggestions apply year-round, of course.
And even if you have not read or heard the statistics: this holiday season, which extends to New Year’s Eve, is a record.
This year was was the busiest year for travel in almost ten years, according to AAA (which regularly reports on subjects like this one).
More than two-thirds of Americans say they traveled either at Thanksgiving, Christmas or plan to go somewhere or travel on New Year’s Eve.
The busiest day of all was Christmas Day.
Perhaps you say to yourself:
“Thank God it’s over.”
But not quite.
People are still traveling, including theme parks (and we will have more to say about them later in this report).
So here is some end-of-year advice on how to cope with the times.
Fear of flying can be real
First, what if you are coming by airplane to Orlando from the frozen north?
Estimates are that five percent of the time your flights will be cancelled (that was the figure last year, and this time should be about the same).
Not bad odds, are they?
Unless you are among those five.
One good way to avoid this -- and one you probably are already doing it -- is by keeping track via social media.
Yes, they often are more likely to announce delays and cancellations first.
Even before the airlines themselves.
But don’t hesitate to sign up for the airlines, either.
They do have an interest in this subject, after all.
So what can you do if your air carrier cancels on you?
If your flight is canceled while you're at the airport, get in line to speak to a representative, but also give the carrier's customer service line a call; travelers who do this often get quicker service.
And is not entirely predictable.
But the past record shows us that chances are better of non-cancelled flights if you book an early morning one.
One statistic explains why:
In one recent year, 91 percent of flights departing between 7 and 8 a.m. took off on time.
If your plane takes off on time, the odds are much better it will also arrive on time.
That’s true even in snow-struck areas such as Chicago and just about anywhere in the state of Minnesota.
In Orlando, of course, the main hazard to flights flying in holding patterns prior to your eagerly awaited arrival is usually lightning strikes.
The area gets a lot of them.
But something to keep in mind at this time of year: While winter snows and howling winds up north are the main culprits of airline delays, airline officials say, that is far from the norm here.
If you’re curious (and it may be too late for your reservation), but Frontier in one study came in last for flight delays. Hawaiian was the first, while Delta was second.
Here’s a suggestion even if you have already booked your flight. And it’s way too late to change an airline.
Coping with overbooked flights
Since as you know, it it’s not weather that is delaying you, it is usually overbooked flights. Airlines regularly overbook flights to help offset no-shows and to ensure that flights are packed with paying customers.
In a recent year, out of 595 million passengers, about 681,100 were denied seats on planes, according to the US Department of Transportation.
So the remedy that helps the most here:
Check in early at the airport for your flight.
Most airlines start at the bottom of the "check-in list" and work their way up when it comes to bumping travelers from oversold flights or for other delays.
After all, you might want to hang around for a while.
Even if for no other reason to enjoy another record: high temperatures here that also have entered the record books.
Wide variety of ways to avoid crowds
Ways to offset crowds have never before offered more choices.
This is mainly due to new technology that gives you more choices than ever.
Old-style is a familiar one: staying in hotels or homes of friends or relatives.
But in the past few years, as you know, more options have turned up.
Staying with strangers, of course. And being driven around in other people’s cars and trucks.
If you have not yet explored these options, this is a great time to consider them.
They can offer huge cost savings.
But they also offer insight into the lives of others.
Alternative booking sites such as Airbnb have become obvious in recent years.
One advantage is that they often don’t have to be booked well ahead of time such as Disney property restaurants or other crowded tourism options.
You get an added bonus this time of year in advice from residents about maximizing your time here (in areas such as great restaurants that don’t have long waiting lists for dinner or for New Year’s Eve reservations, for examples).
Or for attractions you might have missed or don’t know about.
Locals offer valuable insights
Our suggestion is that you regard locals as an important information source. Ask them questions.
They are accustomed to visitors. They will answer.
One such example was launched in 2008.
Airbnb is the largest player in the growing home sharing niche. It’s also in general the most reliable.
If you have not used it yourself, you know others who have.
Couchsurfing you also probably know about.
It is a community of 12 million members. It’s popularity has proven that it works well. And is another good option for you.
Another popular option, and one we recommend in general, is renting a private home or apartment or spare room or even a condo.
From being a rare option a decade ago, that relatively new choice has gotten so common that one in four US travelers took it in 2014, according to Phocuswright.
Uber is the most obvious new car service arriving in recent years but there’s also Lyft or FlightCar, Turo, Getaround and others.
We recommend considering all these options.
Even home cooked meals are an option to consider, particularly in these crowded times for dining reservations.
We remind you of several choices: Online platforms like PurpleDinner Meal Sharing, Bonappetour and EatWith. All viable and proven options for you to at least consider.
Meals are generally good, and the added incentive is getting to know locals.
Any disadvantages to these types of options?
You should investigate any offers, of course. But that is no different than choosing a hotel or renting an individual’s home.
The same principles of “buyer beware” still apply.
But as for the theme parks, here are a dozen practical suggestions during busy times: