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Top 5 Holiday Travel Tips to Help Ease Holiday Stress

Busy airport terminal during the holiday season

It’s that time of year where travel increases on the road and in the sky, so here are a few tips to help prevent extra stress and help you prepare for a busy travel season.

First, you want to avoid traveling on peak travel days. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the busiest travel days of the year. While Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are lighter travel days, the weekend before or after Christmas is very busy. You may want to adjust your schedule if possible to help avoid extra delays. Spending extra time with family or taking time to visit the city you are in is a great way to unwind and avoid busy travel days.

Second, if you can’t adjust your travel days, then be sure to arrive very early to the airport. Most airlines recommend checking in 90 minutes early for domestic flights and two hours early for international flights. For holiday travel, however, it’s to your advantage to arrive even earlier. Expect to encounter long lines at check-in and security, expect traffic delays and plan accordingly. Many terminals are amenity-filled malls, some with art exhibitions, shops, restaurants and even spas and yoga rooms.  Arriving hours early before a flight is a lot more pleasant when you know you can browse, savor a glass of wine, exercise or even get a massage. This also provides more time for you to adjust if your flight gets cancelled.

Third, you want to take advantage of shortcuts. Take advantage of technology and the latest self-service developments in online travel as they can be huge time-savers. Print your boarding passes at home or pull them up on your smartphone. Consider applying for trusted traveler programs, such as Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which allow you to skip the normal security lines. Get a ride to the airport to save time and money. If you are driving yourself, fuel up or charge your vehicle the night before.

The fourth thing you want to do is pack wisely. Be sure to pack your own pillow or travel blanket to remain comfortable in case you encounter delays. For longer flights, consider bringing items such as earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, and an eye mask to help you sleep. If you buy most of your gifts online, have them shipped directly to your destination. This will cut down on luggage and the risk of them getting lost. If you do decide to pack your gifts, do not wrap them because TSA agents can rip them open if they need to screen them for any reason.

Lastly, you want to be nice. It’s that time of the year to be a little nicer than normal, and, so when you get frustrated with flight delays or traffic, getting stressed and angry won’t help. Other people are less likely to help you if you have a bad attitude. A smile and a positive attitude still go a long way, so keep your cool and be prepared to handle flight delays, cancellations and weather issues that you might face.

Enjoy traveling this holiday season and remember to take advantage of the time-saving tips mentioned.