Are you traveling this holiday season and feeling overwhelmed? Keep scrolling for the top holiday travel tips that will cut the stress!
This list of holiday travel tips was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
The holidays are fast approaching, and if you’re not the one hosting your holiday celebration, it means it’s time to hit the road!
The holidays are one of my favorite times of the whole year! I love being able to see family who live far away and come together in celebration.
However, traveling can be a bit tricky around the holidays.
To avoid the chaos of holiday travel, here are some of our best holiday travel tips that you may not already know. These are serious game changers that can really transform your whole travel experience.
Best Holiday Travel Tips for Families
1. Use apps to make your travel easier
At the very least, make sure you download your flight’s app. This can help you with everything from flight schedules to booking help, should you need it.
Don’t rely on your data or airport WiFi to be reliable enough to get these downloaded at the last minute. Other notable apps you should download include hotel apps, rideshare apps, and YELP.
2. Beach destinations are less crowded
During the colder months, beach destinations tend to be less crowded and a little bit more accessible to the general public.
Take advantage of this and plan your holidays at the beach with your loved ones! This can be a great way for everyone to get away, avoid the holiday crowds, and enjoy some fun in the sun.
3. Pack Your Essentials
The holiday travel season can be pretty hectic, and there’s a chance you might forget to pack something. Create a list of things to bring and pack your essentials accordingly.
Consider how many days you’ll be out for your holiday trip and what type of clothing you need to bring with you.
Organizing everything that you need to bring by dividing which ones you can store in a suitcase and which items to place in a carry on bag.
4. Ship your gifts
Nothing is easier than showing up at your destination with all the gifts already in one piece.
If you’re flying, this could mean extra checked bags and panic wrapping when you arrive. If you’re driving, this could mean that you have to be extra careful with those fragile gifts and be extra careful about tearing gift wraps.
It’s so much easier to buy gifts in person or ship your gifts ahead to your destination.
5. Pack your pumpkin pie
Did you know that many food items are safe to travel and can even get past TSA? This one is a game-changer for holidays!
If you’re worried you won’t have time to prepare your favorite holiday recipe when you get there, check to see if it’s TSA-approved and bring it with you on the plane.
For car rides, you can use travel containers or a cooler to bring your favorite dishes to your loved ones.
6. Avoid connections
Nonstop flights are your best bet when it comes to holiday travel. Having to stop from place to place is just more chances for delays, lost luggage, and chances for things to go wrong until you reach your final destination.
Unless you have no other option, see if you can get flights that avoid connections or have fewer connections as much as possible.
7. Consider holiday travel packages
Whether you’re looking at Costco or other places for travel packages, take advantage of these for holiday travel.
You may be able to score big discounts on these packages because many people skip right over them! This can also include entertainment for your whole group and a place to stay.
8. Have a backup plan
No matter how far or where you are going for the holidays, it’s best to devise a backup plan just in case things don’t go how you expect them to.
Whether it’s your hotel stay or your travel dates, be flexible and come up with a few backup plans in case things don’t go the way you planned. This way, if something goes wrong, you are ready with plans B and C.
9. Choose destinations where rental cars are not needed
Rental cars are expensive during the holiday season because everyone needs a way to get to their in-laws or around town during the holidays.
Instead of relying on a rental car, see if you can choose a place where you don’t need rental cars. Rideshare services or destinations where you can walk from place to place will save you a lot of money!
10. There are Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals
Many people don’t know that there are deals to be had on holiday travel.
While everyone else is shopping for TVs and hot ticket items in the store, see what you can find on flights! You may be able to find great prices on flights for the following year or other future travel deals for yourself on another trip.
Whether it’s flights or cruises, you will be shocked at how many travel locations are hosting a whole bunch of great deals!
11. Clear your cache when booking flights
When researching flights, clear your cache to ensure you are getting a fair price. Many airlines and hotels track your activity and can raise the flight prices when you return to the website later.
They’re hoping that you will book immediately when you see the prices go up because you’re afraid of missing out on a good deal.
12. Avoid airline counters whenever possible
Checking in your flights could be such a hassle because of the long queue. Others often opt to arrive early at the airport to be served first.
Fortunately, there are so many ways to ensure you don’t need to speak with a live person to get on your flight or print your tickets. The more kiosks and counters you can avoid, the less likely you’ll have to stand in line waiting.
Check in for your flights online and print off your tickets at home. You can even check your bags curbside.
You may not be able to do this for every flight, but if you can do it for even one way on your trip, it’s still worth it.
13. Book your accommodations and travel early
You may be thinking that the longer you wait, the better deal you will get. However, the reality is that this doesn’t work with holiday travel.
Instead of getting a better deal, you’ll end up stuck with whatever flight you can find and whatever hotels aren’t already booked up, especially nearing Christmas day.
Book these ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about them, and you are all set for travel.
14. Don’t forget about rewards
If you have rewards cards such as flights, hotels, or upgrades, use this as your time to use them!
Most rewards from loyalty programs have an expiration date, and holiday travel is the best time to use them, so you don’t lose them!
You can also use cash-back rewards on credit cards and other perks to ensure you get the best bang for your buck when you travel.
15. Don’t eat your budget
Going out to eat can be very expensive when you travel. This is a poor way to eat away your budget, literally.
Instead, try to go to places that locals enjoy and save some money while you’re dining out.
While you may be planning on having a turkey dinner with your family on Thanksgiving, this won’t help when you need lunch the day before.
Plan on budgeting some money for food, but don’t eat yourself out of your whole trip.
16. Take public transit
If you’re going to a big city or a place where public transportation is normally used, such as Chicago or New York City, learn how to utilize it! You will save huge money on your travel expenses and be able to travel like a local.
Ride-sharing services in these places tend to be very expensive, so going with public transit can save you a lot of money.
17. Keep Your Health in Check
Nobody wants to get sick when traveling for the holiday season. It’s important to stay healthy during the holidays while traveling.
You want to make sure that you’re 100% healthy on your holiday adventure by eating healthy foods before your flight. I love to drink tea before my next flight because it keeps me warm and it keeps me healthy.
I also pack plenty of disinfecting wipes with me so I can clean off surfaces on the plane and in the hotel to ensure everything is clean, especially for my kids. A hand sanitizer also comes in handy.
Lastly, I know traveling can be a stressful experience, especially for moms out there.
One of the holiday travel tips I can give you is to give yourself time to relax in escape lounges, use meditation apps to stay sane during the busiest days of your travel, and pamper yourself a little.
Best Travel Tips for the Holiday Season FAQs
Give yourself quite a bit of extra time to travel during the holidays. You’re going to want to take your time and not put yourself or your loved ones at risk, as holiday travel is always more difficult.
If you’re trying to book a flight, you need to book as soon as possible to ensure that you’ll actually be able to get a flight. While some last-minute flights might still be available, it can be incredibly stressful waiting up until then without a plan!
It’s never a bad idea to buy travel insurance for your trip. If you are booking your trip months in advance, you never know what is going to change that will change your travel needs. Having insurance is a simple way so you can rest easy so that your holiday travel won’t be derailed. (or at least if it does get derailed, you’ll get reimbursed for the money that you’ve spent.)
When it comes to travel safety tips for the holidays, travel insurance is always a good idea.
When it comes to holiday travel, flights tend to be cheaper for bookings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This isn’t guaranteed, but it seems to be true for holiday travel in 2022. Costs and trends naturally vary, so be sure to keep an eye on your own dates.
If you can book a flight during the week, you’ll more than likely get a cheaper flight for your holiday travels. Don’t forget to compare prices, and have flexible travel times as well. This will open your travel window a bit more and give you the best possible pricing for all your travel needs.
Holiday Travel Tips Wrap-Up
End-of-year holiday travel is busy and one of the most expensive times to travel.
If you are planning to spend the holidays out of town with friends and family this year, make sure that you use these travel tips to help you avoid the hassle and start traveling like a pro! This will make visiting any destination more enjoyable and reduce the stress of holiday travel.