21 Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

The holidays are coming! It’s an exciting time, but traveling during the holidays can be stressful. To make things a little easier, follow these 21 Tips for Traveling During the Holidays:

Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

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14 Tips for Traveling by Air During the Holidays

1. Ship Your Gifts

If you’re traveling to go see family or friends, you probably want to bring presents. But they can take up A LOT of room in your suitcases. So skip the hassle and ship them instead! Just tell your loved ones to not open any packages addressed to you to keep the holiday magic alive!

Tips for Traveling During the Holidays - Ship gifts

2. Invest in a Flexible Ticket

Holiday plans change all the time. And you might not even know when you’ll be able to get off of work and out of town. If that’s the case, booking a flexible ticket could save you hundreds of dollars (and lots of headaches)! You’ll pay a bit more up front, but it’ll be worth it when you can change flights last minute for free.

3. Carry-On Everything

Some people swear by checking luggage during the holidays. But if you have any layovers or delays, you can say goodbye to your luggage, at least for a little bit. So try to keep everything to fit into a carry-on, so you can go straight from the plane to your final destination in no time. 

Flight luggage Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

If you absolutely have to check a bag (or three), just make sure to pack enough clothes, toiletries, and medications for two days in your carry-on just in case your checked luggage gets left behind.

4. Choose Seats at the Front of the Plane

I get it, exit row seats are amazing for legroom. But if you have a quick layover, or you don’t want to be stuck behind everyone and their grandmother de-boarding, stick to the front of the plane! Plus, you won’t feel as much turbulence if there is any.

Airplane Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

5. Get Travel Insurance

Traveling, during the holidays especially, is expensive, so having to buy insurance on top of it can hurt your wallet. But imagine how much you would have to spend if you have to buy another flight because of an emergency? Don’t put yourself through that. Spend a little extra on the insurance now, so you can save during an emergency.

Read More: Travel Insurance, Is It Really Worth it?

6. Get to the Airport Early

Once you’ve been flying for a while, you’re used to rolling up to security an hour (or less) before take off. During most times of the year, this can totally work. But with so many holiday travelers, it’s likely security will take you a lot longer to go through. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in security as your flight boards. Get to the airport early enough to calmly check in, go through security, and then treat yourself to an airport beverage!

7. Know the Rules for TSA

Make yours, the TSA agents, and your fellow travelers’ lives easier by knowing the rules ahead of time for what you can and can’t pack in your carry-on. Security lines will already be long and stressful, so make sure you can go through seamlessly. This is another reason to ship your gifts!

TSA rule to follow

8. Travel on Off Days

Skip the stress, and the insane prices, and choose to travel on less popular days. For example, flying on Christmas Day means less full flights, shorter security lines, and more holiday cheer. Just leave early in the morning, so you can still celebrate the entire day.

Flight Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

Or plan to get to your holiday destination earlier, or stay later, to get lower prices. The day before Thanksgiving? The airport will be packed. But the Thursday before? You’ll have it more to yourself.

9. Fly Early in the Morning or Late at Night

Picking flights during non-peak hours will make travel less stressful and less expensive. Both early in the morning and late at night flights are less popular than during the middle of the day.

However, if you have the choice between early morning and late night, choose early morning. Late night flights can be delayed if there were any delays earlier in the day. Meanwhile, early flights will leave on time, and the airport will be emptier.

10. Have at Least 2 Hours for Layovers

During the rest of the year, a 1-hour layover is long enough to make it work, even if it means running down the terminal. But during the holidays, there are just too many delays, weather issues, and people to chance it. You don’t want to start the holidays off with a missed flight!

Layover Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

11. Start Racking Up Points Now

If you plan ahead, you can get credit card points to take quite a few dollars off your ticket price. If you have a travel rewards card, you could use it to buy holiday gifts, office party outfits, or even Thanksgiving travel. Then, you can use those points for Christmas travel (or a fun vacation in February when you’re sick of the winter)!

12. Have a Backup Plan (or Two)

When you’re traveling during the holidays, things happen—flights get cancelled, snow storms roll in, people get sick. Think of what you could do if you got stuck where you were for the holidays, if you had to find another way to get where you’re going, and more. Plus, the more prepared you are, the less prepared you’ll have to be. It’s better to have a plan and not need it, then not have a plan and need one! 

13. Plan for Delays

The one thing you should absolutely plan for? Delays. With so many people traveling and more risk of inclement weather like snow storms or icy runways, it’s almost a guarantee that some stage of your journey will be delayed. If you expect it to happen, you won’t be as stressed when it inevitably does. And if you don’t encounter a single delay? Enjoy your holiday miracle!

flight Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

14. Special Considerations for International Holiday Travel

If you’re traveling internationally for the holidays, lucky you! But there are some extra things to keep in mind:

    • Bring a mask: some countries, and airlines, still require them!
    • Research entry requirements ahead of time: you don’t want to be surprised at the airport when they ask you for proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results. 
    • Know when things will be closed: in some countries, shops, restaurants, and attractions close for not only Christmas but also the days leading up to and following it. Be prepared to fend for yourself in case everything is closed around you

7 Tips for Road Trip Traveling During the Holidays

1. Take Your Car to the Mechanic Beforehand

Have your mechanic do a checkup before you leave. Replace worn brake pads, dim lights, and the oil, if needed, for the smoothest, safest journey possible. If you’re planning on traveling to a snowy place, make sure your tires will be able to handle it!

get car checked before traveling at the holidays

2. Update Your Car’s Emergency Kit

If you’re SOS bag consists of two twizzlers, a single flare, and an empty first aid kit, it’s time to replenish. Especially during cold weather travel, it’s a good idea to have enough food and water for 24 hours, warm clothing, a stocked first aid kit, a flashlight, and a rain jacket.

Here are some must-haves:

3. Know Alternate Routes Ahead of Time

Traffic jams, detours, and major delays can all send your GPS into a tailspin. Most of the time, Google Maps will not lead you wrong. But it’s always good to know what the major alternate routes are before you encounter a screaming GPS.

check roads before holiday road trip

4. Leave Early in the Day

Avoid holiday traffic and rush hour traffic by leaving early, and I mean early, in the morning. Plus, you’ll get to your destination earlier, which means more holiday time for you! Just bring a cup of coffee, so you’re fully awake for the drive.

5. Check the Weather Before You Go

In the winter, the weather can change in an instant. So even if you’re pretty sure you saw sunny skies ahead, check the radar right before you leave and throughout the drive. You don’t want to be unaware of a major snowstorm barreling down on you!

check weather

6. Keep Your Car Above Halfway Full of Gas

It’s always tempting to blow past an exit with a gas station, thinking you’ll come across another in a mile or so. But you never know when suddenly it’s 50-miles until the next town. Plus, during holiday traffic jams, it’s easy to run of out gas when you’re idling for hours running the heat. Keeping your car above halfway at all times will pretty much guarantee you won’t run into either situation.

7. Don’t Drive Tired or Distracted

Driving tired or distracted is super dangerous, and just not worth it. Switch drivers every two hours, or take a break to walk around a bit. And keep the phone out of your hands! With so many people on the roads, and the possibility of ice, it’s so important to be paying full attention at all times while at the wheel.

dont drive sleepy at holidays

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