5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Travel Headaches

Over the next 2 months, millions of people around the nation will hit the road to visit with family and celebrate three of the biggest holidays of the year.

And if there’s one thing most people will agree on, it’s that traveling during this season can wreak havoc on your holiday spirit. Whether it’s trying to snag the best airline price, preparing your home for visitors or navigating bumper-to-bumper traffic, here are six tips to make travel less stressful.

[Related: 3 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays]

Be flexible with your travel dates. Although air prices are generally lower mid-week, AAA reports, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest air travel day of the year. Traveling a week ahead to beat the holiday rush may be your best bet. For finding average flight costs, check out Travelzoo’s best fare calendar. Then download My TSA, a free TSA app, which gives you 24/7 access to wait times, tips on what’s allowed in your luggage, and more. The Gate Guru is another useful app to have at your fingertips. You can input your itinerary, get real-time flight status, get airport maps, and airport food locations.

Book early morning flights. (5:30 or 6:00 a.m.) or fly on the actual holiday. Early morning flights are the least likely to be delayed, and airports are much less crowded. And if you catch an early morning flight, you can arrive just in time to celebrate with your loved ones. Non-stop flights are another great way to avoid delays in connecting flights.

Drive or fly on the day of the holiday. Many travel experts say traveling via air or road on the actual holiday comes with cheaper flights and way less hassle on the road. According to research from Kayak.com, Thanksgiving fares can be 30% below average for domestic flights and 15% below average for international flights.

If you’re driving to your holiday destination, download the Waze Traffic app, which provides real-time traffic info from drivers in your area. The app also alerts you to road hazards, accidents, bridge closures, traffic jams ahead, and even gives you area gas prices.

Consider a Sunday night stay. Most people travel on Sunday to return home, so save yourself a headache and depart on Monday.

Go global. Although Christmas is celebrated in other countries, the Thanksgiving holiday is only celebrated in the U.S. and Canada. So if you’re looking for something new for turkey day, go global.

Consider holiday travel insurance. Unfortunately, trip delays are very common during the holiday season. Trip insurance can help you recoup costs from flight delays or cancellations, missed connections, baggage delays, and even medical insurance if traveling internationally. Consumer Reports has identified 6 questions to ask before buying travel insurance.

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