From wrapping up projects at work to buying gifts for everyone on your list to booking travel to visit friends and family, the holidays can be stressful. Ask a seasoned traveler for holiday travel tips, and they’ll provide many ways to reduce that stress and make travel what it should be—a fun experience. Or you could simply check out our list of easy tips for holiday travel!
Tip 1: Book in Advance
Peak travel times typically come with more expensive flight tickets, especially on the day before an important event like Thanksgiving. You can get better holiday flight deals by booking 95 to 121 days before ticket demand skyrockets. Weekday flights are typically less expensive than weekend flights. If possible, avoid booking flights on traditionally busy days such as Christmas Eve.
Tip 2: Plan Ahead and Pack Early
Those festive sweaters and holiday gifts take up a lot of space, so pack early enough to make sure everything will fit into your carry-on and checked bag. You’ll also need to double-check the airline suitcase size and weight restrictions before arriving at the airport. Paying extra fees for an overweight bag will slow you down as you check in and move through security.
Tip 3: Book Airport Parking Ahead of Time
Airport parking lots are always busy, especially during the holidays. Booking a parking spot in advance ensures you have somewhere to leave your car while you travel and is often cheaper than paying at the parking lot.
Alternatively, you can leave your car at home and use a ride-sharing app to travel to and from the airport. Ride-sharing apps may be less expensive than parking lot fees, depending on the distance between your home and the airport.
Tip 4: Buffer 2 Hours to Prepare For Potential Delays
Holiday travel typically involves longer lines at check-in and security points. Leave home with a two-hour buffer for domestic flights and three hours for international travel to accommodate possible delays.
Weather can cause delays during winter holiday travel. The best holiday travel tips we can give for weather delays are to be patient and remember you’ll reach your destination eventually.
Tip 5: Consider Checking Your Bags
While there are plenty of advantages to traveling with carry-on bags, consider leaving them at home during the holidays. If you use checked bags, you don't need to carry anything other than your personal item through the airport. Without carry-on, you’ll get through security faster and not worry about finding overhead bin space. Disembarking at your destination is also easier.
Tip 6: Ship presents to avoid Grich-Worthy TSA issues
Rather than travel with holiday gifts, consider having the gifts shipped or delivered to your destination. You’ll have more space in your bags for other items, and with many online stores offering free shipping, having gifts delivered can be a cost-efficient alternative to packing them.
Tip 7: Take Advantage of Free Airport Lounges
Airport lounges offer better amenities than departure gate seating, with access to comfortable seating, televisions, and complimentary snacks and drinks. Some lounges offer showers, family rooms, workspaces, and spas. Business, first class, and travelers with elite airline memberships can all access airport lounges. Many credit cards offer complimentary day passes or memberships to airport lounges, or you can pay for a day pass to access the lounge.
Tip 8: Pack your own entertainment
We already mentioned the possibility of delays during holiday travel. Packing your own entertainment will make long waits more enjoyable. Pack some reading material or download books, movies, podcasts, and games onto your electronic device. If you have kids, a couple of small new toys and some downloaded kids’ shows can keep their attention as you travel. Packing your own entertainment (and some Bluetooth headphones) also gives you a way to pass the time if the flight’s onboard entertainment systems are down.
Tip 9: Get TSA Precheck
TSA Precheck is a pre-approved trusted traveler program that reduces your time in security lines. With TSA Precheck you don't need to remove your shoes, jacket, and belt, and you can leave liquids and laptops in your carry-on bag or personal item during security scans. You also gain access to a shorter security line than the general public. Applying for TSA Precheck can take several weeks and requires a short interview, so apply well before holiday travel.
The holidays are a busy, often stressful time, especially for travelers. Follow these holiday travel tips, and you’ll have a more relaxed trip. Check out our extensive collection of carry-on bags, checked luggage, and personal items for well-made, durable travel bags for your next trip.