Your Holiday Travel Survival Guide

By Meghan Brennan

The holidays are the time most people board planes, trains, and automobiles and take off across the country, heading home or off for new experiences. They’re also the time that most people dread traveling, thanks to a brutal combination of congestion, bad weather, and the stress you already feel when Aunt Ruth’s fruitcake is only a few hours away.

Holiday Travel

Holiday travel isn’t always so joyful.

Well, we can’t help with Aunt Ruth, but we can give you our top tips to survive traveling at the most, uh, wonderful time of the year? So strap on your snowshoes and put the roast in the oven – maybe not at the same time – and let’s get through this together!

Between crowded airports, snowy roads, and weather disruptions, bad situations can quickly turn worse, so here are the things to remember:

  • While you’re packing, think carefully about the presents you’re bringing. Whatever you do, don’t wrap them – that’s a fast way to get your bag searched, all your hard wrapping work undone, and your party clothes wrinkled. Wrap them when you get where you’re going. Or, better yet, give gift cards or ship presents ahead to free up space in your bags.
  • Speaking of presents, we all know it’s better to give than to receive, but you’re probably going to get some things from your loving family and friends. Pack a second, soft-sided bag like a duffel inside your primary suitcase in case you have to haul gifts home.
  • Keep a weather (get it?) eye on the forecast, and be ready for last-minute itinerary changes. Dreaming of a white Christmas is nice, but snow is the enemy here.
  • Carry extra copies of any travel documents. This is always a good idea, but at the holidays, most places are understaffed, meaning it could take longer than usual to get replacements for lost or stolen paperwork.
  • Flights are full at the holidays, and often overbooked – get to the airport in plenty of time to check in, or you could be bumped from your flight!
  • In fact, in general it’s a good idea to allow plenty of extra time for any kind of holiday travel. Extra time to get to the airport, to find parking, to get through security…the holidays are a busy, stressful time for everyone (along with being pretty magical), and you don’t want a time crush to make things even worse.
  • Please, please, please – be kind to your fellow passengers, airport employees, and flight crew. ‘Tis the season for good will towards all – especially when you’re all in it together.

What’s your best tip for surviving holiday travel madness? Let us know in the comments, and wherever your travels take you this year, we wish you a safe and happy journey!