Travel tips for the holidays

holiday travel tips

Pictured: suitcases (on sale!!) / handbag

Looking for some travel tips for the holidays? If you are planning to travel this holiday season, you may be looking for some tips to help make your travel plans run smoothly, without any hiccups. While I can’t promise you won’t encounter hiccups during your holiday season travel, I can help you out with a few travel tips to make things go as smoothly as possible.

Traveling during the holidays means more people, more baggage, and tight schedules. Most people only have a few days off during the holidays, so trying to squeeze in travel can be cumbersome, stressful, and oftentimes more trouble than it is worth.

Thankfully with a little bit of planning, and these holiday travel tips, your vacation plans should go smoothly; barring any blizzards, or other unforeseen acts of God.

When I was a child, we sometimes traveled by car, or plane, for the Christmas break in order to visit my family. As a wife and Mother of three, we too travel during the holiday season. These are a few tips I have learned over the years which help keep holiday travel as stress-free as possible.

Getting there. Plane, train or automobile?


  • Are you traveling by airplane this holiday season? If you would like to encounter the least amount of stress possible, book an early flight. By leaving on the first flight out, you are greatly reducing your chances of a delayed flight. Many times the morning flights are on aircraft from the hanger. They just need to be warmed up, and they are ready to go! Later in the day, the aircraft you will be flying on is completing another flight, which means you could encounter delays if it is coming from an airport that had delays, incremental weather and the like. By leaving on the first flight out, you reduce your chances of a delayed flight; which means you reduce your risk of missing a connecting flight.
  • Also, arrive two hours to the airport before your flight. I know it sounds annoying, but during the holiday season there are more travelers; and more importantly, there are more rookie travelers going through security. Allow extra time to get to your gate, you never know how many people will be in line ahead of you in the security line.
  • Make sure you are ready to go through security. Leave heavy metal jewelry in your suitcase and wear socks. You will have to take off your shoes so make sure they are easy on/off and you are wearing socks. You never know whose nasty feet stood  in line before you, protect your feet with socks.


  • If you are traveling by car to your destination this holiday season, be sure to leave as early as possible. The later you get on the road, the more chance you have of being delayed due to accidents, heavy traffic, or weather. As a rule of thumb, I like to be on the road by 7am.
  • Bring a small blanket for each passenger in the car if you are traveling during cold weather. This helps make the car ride cozy and comfy.
  • Think of some fun, verbal games to play in the car during your road trip. After one hour, kids get restless. We like the Alphabet Game where we go around and think of different words starting with each letter of the alphabet. It kills a lot of time!
  • Pack snacks which do not make crumbs, and are not sticky. Cheese and nuts are great car ride snacks. Also, make sure you have plenty of drinking water in the car.
  • Plan your pit stops. Make sure you already have a lunch destination, and dinner destination in mind. Research good places to eat before-hand too. This helps cut down on time searching for a place to eat, and you can check the reviews ahead of time.
  • Have your car serviced, tires balanced, and problems fixed before you leave town. You don’t want bald tires, or an engine burnout while on the road.
  • If you will be traveling to your destination over the course of two or more days, book your hotels ahead of time. You can find great holiday hotel deals online here.


  • Arrive an hour before the train leaves. Try to buy your ticket ahead of time. If you pay extra for a better class, the train cars are less crowded.
  • Pack lightly. You can also check extra baggage.

Prepare for the unexpected

You never know what the weather will do while you are traveling. Be sure to be prepared! When traveling for the holidays, you may encounter snow, rain, sleet; who knows! Even if the forecast is for sunny skies, pack a fold-up umbrella, a water-resistant jacket, gloves, and at least one pair of rain boots/shoes.

Prepare for the worst

  • Unfortunately, crime rates increase during the holiday season. Many criminals looks for people who look like tourists; or appear to not be paying attention to their belongings. Be sure to keep your wallet out of reach of pickpockets by keeping your purse in front of you (cross body or with a belt bag). Men should keep their wallets in a front pocket or in a money belt.
  • Credit card numbers are stolen a lot during the holiday shopping season. If your card has been compromised, and the fraud department calls you while you are on the road, you could be left with a turned-off Mastercard. Be sure to carry cash with you just in case you are left credit-card-less.

Traveling with presents

Tis the season! Chances are if you are traveling for Christmas, you will have gifts with you. Small presents are OK to travel with, but anything bulky will be a hindrance to your relaxing travel plans. You can always send bulky gifts ahead of time via USPS, FedEx or UPS. Mail them two weeks ahead of time and politely request your family and/or friends to not open the boxes when they arrive. After all, gifts should be a surprise! Also, leave some extra room in your suitcase for the goodies you will bring home! If someone gives you something bulky, you can send it home instead of trying to stuff it in your suitcase.

Travel on days others are not traveling

  • The worst time to fly out, drive out, or take a train out of town is the day before Thanksgiving. That is the WORST travel day of the year. Try to take extra time off work and leave before Wednesday,
  • Also, Sundays are bad days to travel home. Waiting until Monday will make traveling home less stressful, less busy, and give you an extra day with your family and/or friends.
  • The day after Christmas is also a bad travel day. Wait until the 27th to come home, or leave town for a quick trip.
  • New Years Eve is a bad travel day. Try to leave town before, or on, December 30th, returning on January 3 or later.

I hope my holiday travel tips help you have a fun, and less stressful time traveling for Christmas, or any holiday this season. Enjoy your vacation, and Happy Holidays!

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