Jan Vašek/ Pixabay

Quick Notes

  • Early planning is essential.
  • Apps like Google Maps can be life-savers.
  • If you have kids, make sure to bring activities for the trip.

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s never too early to start planning your holiday travel. As we prepare to start the season of seemingly never-ending travel to all of our relatives around the country, here are a few tips that will help make traveling a little less stressful this year.

Ready for take-off

The early bird gets the worm, or so they say — and the early ticket-booker gets the best deals. Start looking at flights early to save money on the tickets you’re buying. Even if you don’t save that much money by booking early (as airlines will probably start to raise their prices around the holiday season anyway), you’ll at least get first dibs on when you want to fly, as well as first choice of seats on the plane.

To save some time in the airport, too, you might consider enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program. It will cost you about $85, but it’ll save you a lot of hassle. You get to go through a much shorter security line, and you even get to keep your shoes and belt on. If you’re planning on flying a lot this holiday season, it might be worth it to shell out a bit of extra cash upfront.

Rudy and Peter Skitterians / Pixabay

And, of course, make sure your flight is as comfortable as possible. Unless you’re going to a gala immediately after you step off the plane, you don’t need to wear your best black-tie outfit (and even then, you can probably change in the airport after you land). Layers are a must-have, as the temperature will fluctuate dramatically between the airport and the airplane. Pack a scarf, maybe, which can double as a pillow in a pinch, and wear comfortable — read: loose — pants and shirts to keep comfy for your flight.

Holiday road trip

Maybe your destination is within a comfortable driving distance (or perhaps you just really prefer driving cross-country to getting on a plane). There are some helpful tips to take away for the drivers out there, too.

Firstly, try to pick a driving day that isn’t the same day as the rest of the country. The entire nation is going to be packing their children into cars and setting out on that Wednesday before Thanksgiving when school gets out early, and parents take half-days from work, so if you can, maybe try leaving the day before.

No matter what kind of traveling you have planned this season, the important thing to remember is your destination.

While you’re driving, make sure to have at least one alternative route planned. If traffic hits harder than you were expecting, or the roads are closed due to snow or a car accident, you don’t want to have to spend extra time finding another way to your destination. Just have another route planned before you leave. And on the subject of routes, keep an early eye on traffic by using traffic apps like Google Maps or Waze, so you aren’t caught off-guard by the major back-up on the highway.

If you’re traveling with kids in the car, make sure they have lots of things to do. Kids will get bored quickly, and you don’t want to be thirty minutes into the trip before you realize you forgot the coloring books or didn’t charge your iPad so they can watch a cozy holiday movie.

Riding the railroad

We can’t forget about the trains, of course. If taking a train is an option for you, many of the same tips from flying will carry over. Book your ticket well in advance to save money and get the seat you want, and make sure you have plenty of things to do. For Amtrak passengers, look into reserving a seat in the Quiet Car; it’ll ensure you have a pleasant, peaceful journey with minimal noise throughout your travels.

No matter what kind of traveling you have planned this season, the important thing to remember is your destination. So if you’re stuck in traffic on the highway, if your plane is delayed, or if your train carriage is a little overcrowded, just remember: you’re on your way to enjoy the holidays with your family.

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