Traveling at the holidays is often more stressful than other travel because you’re also focused on coordinating travel and activities with family beyond your household. I’ve complied tips and tricks from Travel+Leisure magazine, the SmarterTravel website and the Travel Channel to help you navigate holiday travel.
Research and plan
- Comparison shop, using services like Expedia or Skyscanner. According to SmarterTravel, it’s never been a better time for online deals. Travel+Leisure suggests traveling on the holiday for better deals and checking with a travel agent who may have access to deals not online.
- Check for alternative driving routes. Travel+Leisure recommends Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation app.
- Look at the connections on flights and void tight ones in case of weather delays. If you can manage it, try for a flight path where the connections are in warmer climates.
- Travel on off-peak days if you can. Not only is it cheaper, it’s less hectic. Or fly at less desirable times including the day of the holiday. Early morning flights are likely to be less crowded, free of delays and you’ll have more time if there is a delay.
- Always leave early to avoid lines and allow for unexpected delays. If you’re using airport parking you might want to reserve a space in advance. Or use other transportation to get to the airport.
What to bring
- Pack light to avoid checking bags. SmarterTravel suggests reviewing the latest TSA rules for carry-on bags. If you must check bags, keep medications, important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case. Travel+Leisure advises rolling your clothes to save space.
- Bring creature comforts such as ear plugs, eye masks, shawls or throws for warmth, and snacks. According to the Travel Channel being hungry can contribute to navigational mistakes, not to mention trying your patience.
- All three sources recommend shipping gifts ahead of time or giving gift cards. That way gifts are less likely to get lost and you avoid the possibility that TSA will need to open your already wrapped gifts.
- Finally, be patient and remain calm. Travel apps like GateGuru, GasBuddy or SitOrSquat can help you keep up with your flight status, check gas prices or find clean restrooms.
- Travel+Leisure advises staying in a hotel instead of with family. This gives everyone some space around a stressful, although happy, time. Also, schedule a stay-cation after the holidays to give yourself some recovery time!
Check out these books for more travel tips, no matter how you’re getting there.