Holiday Travel Guide to Avoid Stress and Keep You Safe

Traveling over the holiday season can be a very hectic and stressful time for many people (especially for those who are afraid of flying). We all want to be with our family and close friends during these special times of year, so traveling is sometimes unavoidable. I have put together a few dos and don’ts to keep you safe (and sane) during your holiday travel season.

Air Travel Tips

DO: If your destination requires you to fly over the holidays, avoid added stress by flying direct and taking early or late flights to avoid larger crowds. It’s also wise to arrive at the airport at least one to two hours early to make your way through security. Not only will it be more crowded inside at the checkpoints the closer it gets to your flight time, but parking will be much more congested, too.

Air travel tips

The safer you are, the more you’ll enjoy views like this!

Remember to wear comfortable clothing and easily-removable shoes; this is good to remember anytime you are flying, but especially during the peak season. The process at the security gate will move more smoothly if you’re not wearing a belt or jewelry, if you ditch the change/keys in your pockets, and if you’re wearing slip-on shoes.

If you’re flying into or out of a city with snow or ice, then bear in mind that you could have delays of up to three hours for de-icing and snow removal. Having a book, magazines, or a handheld gaming system is great to pass the time while you’re waiting.

DON’T: If you’re traveling with gifts, then don’t wrap them before flying. A security officer may have to unwrap it anyway if he/she needs to inspect the gift. If possible, have your gifts shipped to your destination. This will cut down on your luggage and minimize the risk of lost or damaged items. Also, know which items are prohibited on the plane and put them in your checked bag before getting to the security checkpoint.

Driving Tips

Car travel tips

Don’t forget your car safety kit before hitting the road.

No matter if you’re driving across country or across town, winter driving can be very dangerous. Each year, tens of thousands of Americans die or injure themselves in vehicle accidents caused by ice and snow. Follow these small but helpful tips and it will be a smooth ride.

DO: Have your car checked out by a professional and pack a safety kit for the car before you travel. Make sure your tires are winter-ready and properly inflated, and that everything is in good working condition. The last thing you need while out of town is to break down in an unfamiliar place. Also, always be prepared for a change in your driving course due to traffic accidents or road construction. Have a couple alternative routes prepared, just in case.

When putting together a safety kit, these are the essentials:

DON’T: If traveling a long distance, don’t drive all the way through. Make frequent stops to stretch your legs and regain your alertness, even if it’s just for five minutes. Driving in the winter months are more fatiguing than the summer months. It’s also important to stay hydrated and energized to keep you alert while driving. Have extra bottled water and high-energy snacks with you, like sandwiches and fruit. The more alert you are the safer you will be on the road!

I hope these travel tips are helpful during the upcoming holiday season. By taking the stress out of flying and driving, you can better enjoy your time with loved ones and have a nice little vacation. Happy travels!

Do you recommend any other safety tips before traveling? Share your comments, experiences, or horror stories in the section below!


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  1. Jenna Markowski

    These are all excellent tips, Jen! I never really thought about bringing gifts on a plane, but it’s definitely a good tip to keep them unwrapped, or even better mail them to your destination.

    I couldn’t agree more with your tip to leave plenty of time to get through airport security. I would also recommend leaving even more time if you are traveling with a friend or family member in a wheelchair or with a pacemaker. We were flying with my grandma once, and we didn’t take into account that she wouldn’t be able to go through the scanners with her pacemaker, so we had to wait even longer for her to get a pat down and we almost missed our flight!

    • Jen

      Yikes! I almost misses a flight once too, but it was because I had a bottle in my carry on that was more than 3 ounces. It was just water, so I told them to throw it out, but it could have been worse had it been something I wanted to take with me!

      Thanks for the tip Jenna!

  2. Amanda

    Awesome travel tips Jen! When mailing Christmas gifts cross country, I’d totally agree with you about making it easier by mailing them instead of taking them on the plane. We’ve found what works great is to wrap the gifts first, and then place them into the larger shipping box. That way, their gift stays a surprise even if they open the box before you get there. =)

    • Jen

      Mailing a gift may cost a bit more, but it’s totally worth it if you flying. The less you have to take to the airport the better!

      Thanks Amanda! 🙂

  3. Rachel

    So much good information here! I think my favorite tip is from the driving section: “If traveling a long distance, don’t drive all the way through. Make frequent stops to stretch your legs and regain your alertness, even if it’s just for five minutes.”

    So true! When my parents and I drove to Florida last winter, we HAD to stop every 2 hours as a precaution due to some of my mom’s health issues. We weren’t looking forward to adding on that extra time at first, but it ended up being a really good thing, because it felt so great to get out of the car and stretch! Even just a lap of walking around a gas station or rest stop was enough to loosen our legs and keep us awake for the journey (which was especially good for the driver). It’s a good tip to keep in mind on a long flight, too–take a few minutes to stand up and stretch every hour or so, so as to reduce the risk of blood clots.

    Thanks for info, Jen!

    • Jen

      Good point Rachel, it’s very important to move on a plane too, especially during a long flight.

      Also, like you said, sometimes making stops while driving can be a fun experience. I love stopping in cities and states I’ve never been in just to say I’d been there. 🙂

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    Slip-on shoes are a must. I usually wear laced shoes, but on a recent flight, I finally wore slip-ons…it made my travel through security so much easier. I’d also suggest keeping all of your important documents in one place so that you don’t have to worry about fishing all the different papers out of the bins once they’re scanned!

    • Jen

      Slip-on shoes can make all the difference! And great idea about keeping all your documents in one location, I’m always digging in my bottomless purse to find my passport, drivers license and plane ticket. They’re never together in one place. I’m a real peach to be behind in line.

  5. Cybernetic SAM

    Man! I have flown to Florida twice for chistmas and it is my least favorite memory… I would rather crab walk on broken glass to my destination than ever do that again! Wish had thought of some of this stuff ahead of time! Great tips Jen!

    • Jen

      I hope I never have to fly during the peak holiday seasons!!!!

  6. Amy Swanson

    I’m very fortunate to have my entire family within driving distance, I can’t imagine trying to fly during the holidays. The stories on the news always make it look stressful and congested.

    With that being said, driving during the holidays isn’t a cake walk either. We’re constantly checking the weather to make sure the highways are still open and packing extra clothes in case we need to stay an extra day or two at our destination. Your suggestion for keeping a warm blanket in the car is a must in the Midwest, you just never know when your car may break down and it’s hours until a tow truck can come get you.

    On a lesser note, I always make sure I have plenty of Coke and Pringles in the car for my road trip snacks. Yum 😀

    • Jen

      My family drove to Northern Wisconsin for Thanksgiving a few years back. The weather was great on the way, but while there a blizzard hit and we were stuck for a another few days. Having a few extra clothes would have been a terrific idea, but who would have thought we’d get a blizzard on Thanksgiving and get stranded! Great tip Amy, thanks!!

  7. Roxanne Krause

    awesome useful tips!! I’ve printed this out and kept in safe place for future travels!

    • Jen

      That’s great Roxanne! I’m so glad it’s helpful, thanks for reading and commenting!

  8. Alex Brodsky

    I drove cross country from L.A. to Chicago last winter, and you are right: driving in the winter is WAY more stressful! These are great tips and I wholly recommend people do each and every one of these.

    That in mind: anybody know where I can get good, CHEAP winter tires for my Malibu Barbie car?

    • Jen

      That’s a longgggg drive. I flew a couple years ago to L.A. and it felt like the longest flight ever. I couldn’t even imaging the drive, in the winter no less. You are a very brave man Alex.

  9. Jill Tooley

    Oh my gosh, it’s SOOOO important to arrive at airports early! I can’t tell you how many times slow lines or packed crowds have nearly prevented me from catching my flight on time. I hate sitting around waiting for boarding, but I’d rather do that than miss my flight entirely!

    You have a bottomless purse too, huh? Good to hear that you’re one of THOSE people, Jen. Right there with you! 😉

    Great travel tips!

  10. Royal American Tours & Charter

    Planning is an essential part of traveling smart. Some people who have limited time to prepare, usually rush which can lead to unwanted situations they experience along the way. Being in the tourism industry, we agree with what you have presented here about holiday travel. We can always have a safe and hassle free trip after all.

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