The holiday season is stressful enough when you’re staying home, but throw in a cross-country trip and anxiety quickly goes through the roof. There are so many details to think about and plan, lists to make, schedules to coordinate, and rides to arrange that at times traveling hardly seems worth the trouble. The key is to take things one at a time, focus what’s on the other side of that flight, and do not procrastinate.
Even the most seasoned travelers sometimes still get the jitters. If you’re nervous about your upcoming trip this season, here are some holiday travel tips to help you through the worst of it.
1. Do not procrastinate.
This may seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but it is surprisingly common. For one thing, an early start is the surest way to save money on the flight you want. This is especially true when you’re traveling during the holidays and you don’t have much flexibility when it comes to dates. That said, try to avoid peak travel dates. On Thanksgiving, for example, Wednesday is notoriously the busiest day for outbound flights. On the other hand, flying in on Thanksgiving Day is often cheaper and much less busy.
As far as Christmas and New Year’s go, the peak travel days vary depending on which days of the week the holidays fall. But generally, you can make a good estimate by figuring out which travel days would let you make the most of a long weekend without taking too much time off work – if those dates make the most sense to you, then they probably make the most sense to everyone else as well.
2. Do your research and shop around.
Luckily, these days we have search engines that do the work for you: you can put in flexible dates and it tells you which date combinations are the cheapest. Google Flights even lets you view a price calendar for the entire month so you can really see which dates would get you the best deal. There’s even an option for adding nearby airports into the search because prices don’t just vary by date – the airport can make a significant difference as well.
3. Pack strategically.
If possible, try to fit everything into a carry-on bag to avoid checked baggage fees and the inconvenience of waiting at baggage claim when you get there. But the TSA regulations about liquids and gels can make this difficult. A carryon can only have liquids and gels in 3.4-ounce containers (or smaller), and they must be packed together inside one quart-sized zippered plastic bag. This article has some great tips for packing light no matter the occasion.
One thing that helps is to have luggage designed specifically for traveling, such as the one made by Nomatic. It has features to make traveling go as smoothly as possible, such as straps that let you quickly switch between a duffel and a backpack, detachable waist straps, a shoe compartment, a water bottle pocket, cord management pockets and RFID blocking, and a protective sleeve for your laptop or tablet. Learn more about how Nomatic’s travel bag can make packing one less thing you have to stress about.