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Helpful Holiday Travel Tips

‘Tis the season for holiday travel. Many of us travel for fun or to visit family during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I wanted to share with you some of my top holiday travel tips to help your family if you’re traveling, whether by air or car.


Check-in Early

Go ahead and take advantage of the 24 hr advance check-in offered by most airlines. That way if you happen to run into a delay you don’t risk being bumped from your flight. If you’re not checked in for the flight, and your flight is overbooked, there’s a chance you’ll be chosen to be bumped from the flight.

Allow Extra Time

Lots of people travel for the holidays, so the airport will see some higher traffic than normal. This includes in parking lots and departure/arrival drives. It’s much less stressful to wait on the gate side of security for your flight than standing and worrying on the ticket counter side!

Know Your Flights

Stay up to date on your flight status. Winter weather can impact flights all over, so be sure you know what the status of your flight is. Many airlines have smartphone apps so you can stay up to date on your flights, and you can sign up for text or email flight alerts.

If you have a connection, make sure you have an idea of the layout of the connecting airport so you can make swift time to the connecting flight. If your initial flight is delayed, you might have a short window to make your connecting flight. That’s not the time to stand to look at airport maps trying to think of where to go next.

Talk to your flight attendant because they may be able to let the other gate know you’re on your way when you land or get you off the plane first, however, this is a slim chance and many people will not stay seated when the attendant asks for them to allow connectors off first.

Reserve Car Parking or Shuttle

If allowed, it’s a good plan to reserve your parking spot at your airport parking lot. You don’t want to arrive and find the lot full. Some lots might be so big, they don’t worry about running out of spaces, but it’s something to look into.

If you’re taking a shuttle, make your arrangements early. If you’re getting a ride from a friend, be sure to politely remind them of when to pick you up (take into account if they’re likely to be on time) and also mention the idea of having plenty of gas. :)


Don’t wrap your gifts. They need to be open for inspection. We liked to pack some Christmas gift bags with tissue (and/or Christmas decorated boxes) and “wrapped” our gifts when we arrived. However, I do know many people that have never had issues with wrapping their gifts and if they are inspected you could always rewrap them at your destination.

Also, take care and don’t bring a gift that’s not allowed to be brought on your flight. Liquids are restricted in carry-on luggage, so you’ve got to keep that in mind with gifts as well. We had to check a suitcase once for a snowglobe; that was one expensive snowglobe!


If possible carry-on your luggage. I know with gift-giving this can be hard. However, you don’t want to take a chance of having all your gifts and personal items lost or damaged during the holidays. However, take note that the flights are going to be full and carry-on space will be at a premium.

A few tips: board early if possible (perhaps because of upgraded ticket options or airline program status), make sure your carry-on fits the size specified by your airline, have enough time between connections to wait for the plane to clear in case your carry-on gets placed towards the back of the plane.


Prep Your Car

Make sure your car is ready for your roadtrip. Check out my winter road trip packing list. This includes having a winter weather emergency road kit with items to help you if you have car trouble.

Know and Verify Your Route

Make sure you know where you’re driving and that all the roads are open. Some roads (mountain roads) can close during winter weather. Most states have road conditions and closures listed on their department of transportation websites. Also, have a road atlas handy just in case you have issues with your GPS devices.


Don’t leave your presents visible in your car. When stopped at a hotel or restaurant, you don’t want someone to see all your nice gifts and decide to break into your car to steal them.


Keep it Fun for the Kids

Be sure to pack them a kids travel bag, and plan some fun family travel games. Perhaps you can download some new Christmas apps for them to play. You can also rent/buy/download a fun Christmas movie(s) for them to watch during the flight/drive. Lastly, consider a visit to your local library or bookstore for some Christmas books or audiobooks for them to read/listen to along the way..

Patience, Patience, Patience

If you’re like me, busy travel and strict time plans can make me a little stressed. If you prepare your mindset for the chaos, you’re much more likely to remain calm and stay patient during your holiday travel. Expect hiccups, then when they come, you can patiently deal with them and move on. Remember that traveling as a family gives you the opportunity to show your kids how to handle stressful situations and problems. Be a good role model! :)

I hope these holiday travel tips will help your family. Do you have a holiday travel tip to share? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Helpful holiday travel tips to help you when flying or driving this holiday season whether for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other winter vacations!

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Tuesday 8th of December 2015

Great tips, Kim! We are traveling down to the Bay Area, and definitely going to allow PLENTY of time at the airport--airports seem even busier these days as it is, then add the holidays, and it's going to be a bit crazy! :-) I like the idea of trying to carry-on as much as possible.


Tuesday 8th of December 2015

Yes, it will get crazy! Also, be sure to check in online in advance if possible. I once heard that sometimes bumping lists are made up of people who haven't checked in or were the last to check in. Although I think ticket codes and point statuses have a lot to do with it too. Hope you have a fabulous trip!

Hallie @ The Wordy Baker

Monday 6th of January 2014

One Christmas when my cousins were young we gave them little metal lunchboxes filled with car games as presents. Of course, they weren't actually traveling for the holidays, but I like to think it helped on their next trip. My sister and I certainly always enjoyed playing games on our road trips!


Monday 6th of January 2014

The metal lunchbox idea is great Hallie! My girls like playing games with each other during road trips too!


Saturday 23rd of November 2013

If you carry on your luggage it's also a whole lot cheaper than checking it. Hope you have a great day.


Saturday 23rd of November 2013

Absolutely Heidi! The last time we paid for checking luggage was the aforementioned snowglobe fiasco.


Saturday 23rd of November 2013

great tips the holidays is time for fun and family and when we consider tips you shared may make it easier for all of us


Saturday 23rd of November 2013

Thank you Angie. Happy Holidays!