Oh, the holidays. A time for shopping, parties, family get-togethers, and—unfortunately—super stressful travel. An estimated 98.6 million Americans traveled for the holidays last year—a four percent increase over the previous year.
So, needless to say, if you’re traveling for the holiday season, you definitely aren’t alone. And, while that means your travel plans won’t be lonely, it can also lead to some high-stress travel time. After all, the airports and roadways are sure to be crowded.
If you’re planning to travel over the holidays, it’s important to be prepared for the inevitable stress and anxiety that will ensue. Put a few of these tips to work to take at least a little nail biting out of your holiday travel plans.
If You’re Driving…
1. Leave Early
If you leave on peak travel days, you can anticipate a high volume of traffic. If you can, plan your travel for off days to avoid crawling along in bumper-to-bumper traffic. You’ll get there faster and save yourself some stress—so, it’s worth taking that extra vacation day!
2. Scout Out Conditions
Speaking of traffic, staying updated on what’s happening further down your route is important. Not only does it help you to prepare for what’s coming, but it also gives you a chance to plan an alternate route if necessary. Have Google Maps or an app like Waze handy to stay in the loop about traffic conditions.
Aside from traffic, you should also keep your eye on the weather. Driving through a snow or ice storm is never fun. So, stay updated on what the conditions will be like, in case you need to adjust your schedule.
3. Plan an Alternate Route
With that many people on the roads, accidents and mishaps are bound to happen—causing traffic to clog up even more. If things get backed up enough, you’ll likely want to take an alternate way to your destination. Make sure you have a fallback travel route in mind so you don’t wind up lost and frustrated!
4. Stay Calm
Yes, flying for the holidays is stressful. But, battling road traffic might be even more anxiety inducing. Your first inclination might be to launch into a fit of road rage. Resist the urge, take a deep breath, and calm down. You’ll get to your destination eventually—and it’s definitely better to get there in one piece.
If You’re Flying…
1. Search for Direct Flights
Let’s face it—the less time you need to spend in a crowded airport, the better. When booking your travel, look for direct flights. It saves you time in an airport, and also eliminates the stress of having to catch a connecting flight. It’s often worth the extra money!
2. Be Conscious of Your Carry-On
Yes, I know that the carry-on baggage regulations can be a total pain. But, if you don’t ensure your baggage is up to code before leaving, you’re setting yourself up for an extra headache. Check your airline’s rules to make sure you can get on the flight without holding up the boarding line—frustrating all of your fellow passengers behind you.
3. Leave Things Unwrapped
Speaking of your luggage, you might be traveling with holiday gifts. If so, make sure that you leave everything unwrapped to avoid any issues with TSA. Even better? Ship your gifts to your destination for worry-free travel!
4. Prepare for the Worst
Unless you’re incredibly lucky, delays are pretty much inevitable over the holidays. So, be smart and prepare for the worst. Keep some of your necessities with you in your carry-on bag in case you end up spending more time in the airport than you intended. Don’t forget to make sure that you have easy access to your phone charger—if you have to spend hours stuck in the airport, you might need it!
5. Be in the Know
Of course, you need to remain updated on delays, flight changes, and other important information. So, downloading your airline’s mobile app is always recommended. However, you can take your knowledge one step further by downloading an app like Flight Status. They often send updates even faster than your actual airline.
There’s no denying that traveling over the holidays is stressful—and there’s not much you can do to change that. Implement a few of these tips to take at least a little bit of the anxiety out of your holiday travel plans.
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