Holiday travel survival guide: the essentials

The holidays are a lovely time of year. For most us, they mean getting away from work and school to spend quality time with our loved ones. Whether you plan on sunbathing on a faraway beach or just relaxing on mom and dad’s couch, it generally involves traveling. And let’s face it, getting there is hardly ever easy.

If you plan on flying, then you’ll probably deal with busy airports, weather delays and overstated Ebola fears. If you’re roadtripping, well, hopefully you’ll be stuck in a confined space with a good soundtrack and people you like. And if you’re not in Texas and traveling by train, then really you’re probably just lucky. Regardless of how you get there, traveling can be full of unexpected mishaps. But hey—it’s about the journey right? Here are some tips to make holiday travel less stressful.


Getty Images
Getty Images

First thing’s first: get to the airport on time. If it’s an international flight, get there two hours in advance. If your goal was to save money on flights, then this probably entails getting up super early. So set five alarms and don’t go out the night before—there is no worse feeling than missing your flight (not that I would know, or anything). Pack the essentials and no more (see list below). Lugging around a heavy bag, especially when dealing with flight connections at multiple airports is unnecessary. You might think you’re going to get some extra work done on that laptop, but are you really? Plus, you don’t want to end up like this guy, with a $1,171 wi-fi bill. These days, most flights, especially international ones, have entertainment systems with games, music and movies.

And while you’re thinking about what to pack, go ahead and tie a colorful ribbon on your suitcase handle. This will save tons of time finding your bag at luggage claim. Oh, and don’t forget to snap a picture of your bag before you leave. This will help just in case your bag gets lost so you’re not stuck saying, “Um, it’s a black one…”

Lastly, try and get some sleep. I know, easier said than done, but a little nap will work wonders to make flights whiz by, and you’ll feel much more refreshed when you land. Whip out a sleep mask, earplugs and socks, and pretty soon you’ll be dreaming about the fact that you’re not sitting next to a total stranger.

Flight essentials:

  • Headphones/earbuds – in-flight headphones they provide are pretty terrible
  • A book or magazines
  • Game apps – load up on phone apps like these that don’t require a Wi-Fi connection
  • Lotion/moisturizer – to combat that dry, recycled air
  • Socks – flights can get quite chilly
  • Earplugs


Photo: Alex Vickery
Photo: Alex Vickery

A soundtrack can make or break a road trip. Be sure and load plenty of music onto your phone and take turns being the DJ with other people in the car. If your parents are driving, pack a good pair of headphones so they don’t have to listen to Taylor Swift.

Equip your car with lots of snacks. Save money, time and calories by packing your own food. After one too many Sonic stops, you’ll wish you had some real fruit lying around.

Long gone are the days of using atlases and road signs to figure out where you’re going. Nowadays, an app can tell you where the cheapest gas is, what food stops are at a particular exit as well as nearby hotel availability. Check out Mashable’s list of free road trip apps.

Finally, if you have a bit of extra time to get where you’re going, map your route on Roadtrippers for suggestions on obscure stops and attractions along the way. If this trip is a routine one for you and your family, it’s a great way to make new memories.

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