27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season

27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season

27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season

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27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season

27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Pack Hacker

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27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season

With extra vacation days and the tradition of returning homeor at least heading to wherever your familys home is nowthe holidays are a popular time to travel. Of course, nearly everyone else thinks so, too, which means youll be faced with big crowds and higher prices. A little planning goes a long way in making this a trip to remember because of all the good times you had, not because of travel delays.

Lucky for you, we have tons of holiday tips and tricks for helping you get to your destination as quickly as possible and with all your gearand sanitystill in your possession. From picking the best time to travel to navigating busy airports and being a friendly flier and a gracious guest, weve compiled the ultimate list of holiday travel tips for you.

So sit back, relax with some cocoa and holiday tunes, and read on!

Lets Get Planning

  1. Pick the right time to travel: Sure, everyone wants to be together on the holiday, but our holiday travel tips begin with asking your family if theyre willing to celebrate on off-peak days so you dont fly or drive with the masses. It could save you hundreds of dollars in flights alonenot to mention cheaper hotels and activitiesand you wont have to brave the crowds who are all leaving the day before and returning the day after Christmas, the New Year, or whatever holiday you plan to observe.
  2. Arrive early and leave late: If you have extra vacation days or the ability to work remotely, try to get to your destination a bit earlier. If you have kids, school breaks typically begin the day before, so one of our best holiday tips is to travel a few days before that if you can. And if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving break in the United States, you can typically score cheaper travel on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the holiday. That’s true for New Years Day around the world, too; waiting till Jan. 3 or 4 to return home will let you sail that vacation high a little longer for less cash.
  3. Fly midweek or on the actual holiday: Of course, if Jan. 3 is a Friday, that may not necessarily be true. Our list of the best holiday travel tips includes avoiding weekend flights if you can, as many travelers will plan their trips this way to maximize their days off of work. If your family has agreed to celebrate on a different day, traveling on a holiday may mean youll have fewer crowds to fight, especially later in the day. So sleep in, have a nice holiday breakfast, and then hit the road!
  4. Outdoor Research Helium Adrenaline Day Pack 20L In Use
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | This is a great time of year to travel! Of course, everyone else thinks so, too.
  5. This isnt the time to be cheap: One of our top holiday travel tips is to pay attention to the airline you fly. Youll want to choose an airline with traveler-friendly policies and great customer service that you can access quickly if your flight is delayed or canceled. Thats more likely to happen over the holiday season because (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) inclement weather may impact your flight, and higher travel demand may mean more overbooked flights.
  6. Be kind, rewind: As the old adage goes, Youll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Kindness is an essential part of every holiday tips list (and its, frankly, good advice whenever you travel). Its even more important to keep in mind when interacting with employees who are likely already stressed from overwork and missing time with their families. If something happens to put a kink in your travel plans, take a step back and a deep breath, and then politely ask for help. Theres a good chance that whatever happened isnt a direct result of something that a particular employee did, and its just their job to clean up someone elses mess.
  7. Accept that everything will take longer: Be prepared to spend more time at the airport over the holidays. Whether its a weather delay or simply too many travelers for too few workers to handle, our holiday tips include packing sudoku or crossword puzzles, a book, and loading games on your phone so you wont be bored in line.
  8. Boarding the plane
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Flights will be more crowded over the holidays.
  9. Resistance is futile: Bear in mind that everywhere you go will be more crowded, and everything will cost more. Its the law of supply and demand, and it happens every year, so youll be a lot happier if you plan for it and embrace the craziness.
  10. Choose your seat: Heres a tip for traveling during the holidays that may cost more but is worth the extra money: pick your seat, even if you have to pay for the privilege. If you already have an assigned seat, youre less likely to get booted from an overbooked flight.
  11. Arrive early: As we said above, everything will take longer, from finding a parking spot to getting through security, so getting to the airport earlier than you think you should have to is one of the best holiday travel tips when you want your trip to be less stressful.
  12. Theres No Present Like The Present

  13. Stop and drop that wrap: If youre flying during the holidays, dont bust out the paper, tape, and bows at home. Never mind the fact that no beautiful bow will survive airplane turbulence; if airport security has to check your bag because something inside flags an alert, they may have to unwrap your gift to see whats inside before you even get on the plane.
  14. Santa Claus is coming to town
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Only Santa can get away without having his wrapped packages checked on a flight.
  15. Its in the bag: Instead of trying to fit a roll of wrap in your carry on luggage or dealing with the creases of folded gift paper, our holiday tips include bringing gift bags from home for your gifts when you arrive at your destination. Gift bags and tissue paper lie flat nicely in the bottom of your pack, still look beautiful, and take less time to use than setting up a wrapping station when you arrive.
  16. Keep it personal: Try to pack any gifts in the travel daypack you’re using as a personal item bag if they fit so you still have something to share at the gift exchange if your luggage gets lost. If they take up too much room, you can pack them in your carry on travel backpack, although overbooked holiday flights are more likely to run out of space in the overhead bin, so you may still have to check it at the gate if the flight is full.
  17. Ship it directly: Of course, since youre likely shopping for holiday gifts online, why not have them shipped right to your destination? Along with saving room in your backpack, theyll be there when you arrive. You can request gift wrap to keep the surprise or bring those gift bags we mentioned above to quickly get the job done when you arrive.
  18. Sitting by an RV
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | You can bring more if youre taking an RV holiday, but save space and ship it if youre flying.

    Packing For Holiday Travel

  19. Dont check a bag: You know were all about one bag travel here at Pack Hacker, and the holidays are not the time to forget about our minimalist packing tips. If you check a bag and it gets lost or, more likely, delayed, you could be spending more time on the phone with customer service than you do visiting with Aunt Sally.
  20. Packing a bag
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Making a list helps you decide exactly what you need to pack.
  21. Make a packing list: If youre just throwing items willy-nilly into a bag, youre nearly guaranteed to forget some travel essentials. So, one of our favorite holiday travel tips is to create a list of everything you need and stick to it! Its easy with our online Packing List Tool. And, if you need help getting started, we have curated packing lists for nearly every type of trip.
  22. You might not need that: Whether youre staying with family, at an Airbnb, or in a hotel, find out whats available for you to use before you start to pack. For example, you can bring less clothing if theres a washer and dryer available, and your mom may still have your favorite brand of shampoo in the shower, but you may want to bring some instant java if grandma isnt a coffee fiend like you are. Checking into whats available will help you bring only the essentials, and its one of the best holiday tips we can share.
  23. Car packed with duffle bags
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Check with your host to see if you really need to bring all of this on your trip.
  24. Pack for different weather: Of course, if you count on your friends and relations for extra gear, you may end up wearing your dads XXL sweatshirt when the temperature dips, so its best to be prepared with layers in your travel capsule wardrobe. Thats even more important if youre celebrating the holidays in a touristy destinationyou may not want to buy a new pair of shorts with South Beach stamped on the butt because you forgot to bring your own.
  25. Dont forget to tip: The holiday tips continue with bringing along small bills for tipping. Showing your gratitude with some cash can go a long way in spreading goodwill to the hotel employees, cab drivers, and other servers you meet along the way if youre traveling someplace where tipping is customary, like most of the United States.
  26. Holiday Grab Bag

  27. The right way to weather stalk: No matter where you travel, the weather can be inconsistent this time of year, so be sure to check the forecast before you pack. Dont look too early, though, since some warmer destinations, like Florida, have climates that can change on a dime and seemingly don’t settle into consistency until the last minute. Our holiday travel tips include packing a few days beforehand so you know exactly what youll need and what you can leave behind.
  28. Avoid popular holidays at your destination: When youre looking to get some rest or searching for a new adventure, why not visit a country thats not celebrating the same holiday that you are? It will potentially be cheaper and less crowded than places following the same calendar.
  29. Check your ride: Sure, Uncle Norm swears he can pick you up from the airport, no problem. But he could flake out the minute the snow starts to fly, so one of the best holiday travel tips entails making sure you have a backup transportation plan.
  30. Rent a car: While it costs more than relying on the generosity of friends and relations, you’re probably better off renting a car or scoping out the ride-share options at your destination. Then, you can go out on a grocery run if you feel the need to escape the holiday chaos.
  31. Be flexible: Something will go wrong. There you go, thats one of the best holiday travel tips we can give you. Knowing theres a good chance that not everything will go according to plan and being ready to roll with the punches is the secret to a more serene holiday.
  32. Snowy Mountain in Salt Lake City, Utah
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Sure, your flight got delayed and youre stuck in Salt Lake City, but the airport is in the middle of the mountains, which is pretty cool!
  33. Ask the experts: If youre heading to somewhere youve never been, our holiday tips include asking for help before setting out. Maybe you have friends or family who can tell you what bag you should bring to the beach and what are the best gloves for texting on the ski slopes, but if not, Pack Hacker Pro is a community of fellow travelers who are always eager to help you get ready for your next trip, so join us!
  34. Plan for the unexpected: Whether someone in your travel party gets sick or you need to unexpectedly come home early, holiday travel insurance offers peace of mind that you wont lose all of your money if you cant make it on your trip.
  35. Say thanks with a gift: We dont think that adage about houseguests and fish actually holds water, but the fact is that having people stay overnight is hard work. So sending flowers or a fruit basketor, better yet, bringing something unique from your hometownto your hosts to show your appreciation is one of the best holiday tips to ensure you get invited back next year.
  36. Decide whether the stress is worth it: Hopefully, now, youre feeling better about traveling over the holidays, but if youre not, you should decide if its right for you. Its the most expensive time of the year to travel to many places, and while it can be a lot of fun to celebrate in a new location, you could also make your money go a lot further if you wait a few months to take off.
  37. New Years Eve Fireworks
    27 Holiday Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Season | Ringing in the New Year somewhere special is a memory youll have forever.

    However, if you keep all of our holiday travel tips in mind, youre more likely to be happy heading out to visit family or explore a new destination, even with the additional crowds. Who knows? You could meet your new best travel friend as long as you pack your patience and remember that youre heading out on vacationthis will be fun!

December 14, 2023


Kristyne Defever

Kristyne loves theme parks, tropical islands, and hitting the road in the camper with her family. Whether running through Walt Disney World, walking the shores of Lake Michigan, or hiking the Smoky Mountains, she’s happiest exploring the outdoors. She enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her husband, daughter, dog, and cat.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.