The holidays are best spent with loved ones, but it can be difficult if your loved ones are spread out around the country, and if it’s not your year to host the party, you’re probably doing some kind of traveling. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 10 hours, traveling adds to the holiday stress, but after working hard all year, it’s nice to have a break and enjoy your family and friends. There are plenty of ways to keep that stress level down while still having a blast.
Spontaneous vacations are fun, but planning your trip ahead of time is important during the holidays. It’s best to know alternative routes to your destination and to know bag restrictions for airlines. Hotels book up around the holidays, so if you’re not staying with family, it’s a good idea to have a room booked in advance.
Planning ahead also means planning for the unexpected – flight delays, long lines at airport security, weather conditions, etc. Arriving at the airport a couple of hours early during the holiday season will save you from a Home Alone-style sprint through the airport.
Don’t Travel on Peak Days
There are good and bad days to travel. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, so you’re better off waiting until early Thanksgiving morning if you want to avoid traffic jams or crazy airport security lines.
By checking luggage, you run the risk of the airline losing all of your underwear and your mom’s gift, so try not to check a bag if possible. You also won’t have to wait forever at baggage claim and then fight the crowd to get your bag. There are some good tips for the chronic over-packers.
Make Sure to Snack
In order to avoid getting hangry and buying unhealthy gas station food, bring your own drinks and snacks on your road trip. If you don’t bring your own snacks to the airport (reminder: you can’t bring your own drinks), use the GateGuru app on your phone to peruse food options.
Use Earplugs or Headphones
Screaming kids on the plane or your road trip partner’s bad taste in music can make for an unpleasant travel experience. By bringing headphones or earplugs, things will be a little easier to deal with since you can block out all that loud garbage.
Keep Food Simple
Did you offer to bring a dish for your out-of-town party? A charcuterie board is an easy appetizer to travel with since you can assemble the spread at your party and you can leave the board as a host gift. If you’re in charge of dessert, the easiest to transport and make ahead is pie, and it’s always a hit.
Ship Wrapped Presents
There’s a chance TSA will have to unwrap the presents in your luggage, so either wrapping them at your destination or shipping them ahead of time will save you a headache or two.