The holidays are fun, but traveling during them is definitely not. What’s supposed to be a joyous time to visit family, enjoy old traditions, and generally be merry can be seriously overshadowed by the specter of crowded airports, high prices, and weather delays. It’s enough to make you want to just stay home. Don’t give up! There are a few stress-free holiday travel tips you can take to truly enjoy your holiday season.Avoid Peak Travel Days
When you’re booking your holiday travel, there are a few things you can do to avoid the worst of the crowds. Booking early will give you more options and will help keep prices low.
The biggest travel days of the holiday season are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Sunday after, and December 22nd, 23rd, 28th, and 29th. Traveling on these days means higher prices and horrific crowds, so avoid them if at all possible. If you can, consider traveling on Thanksgiving morning, which is significantly less busy, or between December 16th and 20th.
If you must travel on a peak day, book a flight earlier in the morning to avoid, or compensate for, any delays.
Book Connections Through Warm Weather Areas
If your journey involves a connecting flight, try not to tempt fate by booking your layover through the northern part of the United States, where a winter snowstorm might derail your flight plans. Instead of Detroit or Boston, try to connect through Phoenix or Atlanta. It might make all the difference when a blizzard rolls in.
Budget Extra Time
Everything takes longer during the holiday rush, so plan ahead and don’t be left scrambling. Flight delays, traffic jams, and inclement weather can all conspire to make life harder. If you’re flying, budget in extra time for security checks, changing planes, and even picking up baggage. If you’re driving this season, expect your typical drive to take an hour or two longer than usual.
Ship Your Gifts Or Leave Them Unwrapped
Don’t spend hours carefully wrapping presents only to have them taken apart by a security agent. TSA discourages the transportation of wrapped gifts in your carry-on or checked baggage. Either wrap your presents once you arrive or ship them separately.
Don’t Get Sick
Airports are hotbeds for germs, and nothing can ruin a holiday faster than catching a cold or the flu in transit. Combat cold weather germs by washing your hands frequently, using antibacterial hand gel, and popping some vitamin C supplements.
When it comes to a quick, changing travel landscape, technology is your friend. Use your phone to keep up to date on flight times, delays, and gate changes (TripIt Pro is great for this). With all the information at your fingertips, you’ll know exactly what’s going on at any given moment.
Tell us in the comments below: what are your best stress-free holiday travel tips?
Editor-in-Chief and owner of Twenty-Something Travel, Stephanie Yoder, is a contributor for TripIt’s blog. In 2010, Stephanie left her office job to become a freelance writer and blogger. Stephanie has spent time living in China, Argentina and Mexico. Married to a fellow travel blogger, Stephanie’s life is full of adventure and new places. With a natural itch to be on the move, she had dedicated her life to traveling and sharing her adventures with the world.