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The winter holiday is a lovely time of year for most Americans when friends and family get together to celebrate, eat delectable cuisine, and spend time together. And although spending the holidays at home is undoubtedly something to remember, getting there may be a stressful nightmare. Plenty of unpleasant surprises are lying around the corner, from overbooked flights to hours spent stuck in traffic.

Many helpful holiday travel suggestions are available that can help you save time, money, and frustration whether you’re flying across the nation or taking your family on a brief road trip. Remember that the holiday travel season is the busiest period of the year; the American Automobile Association projects that 112.5 million Americans will travel by car or airplane in 2018 alone. There will inevitably be a mess on your trip because so many people are going at once. Consider these five easy holiday travel techniques to lessen stress and maintain your sanity before you embark on your next commute:

To save time and money, book your flight in advance.

Although arranging a trip is never simple, it is best to begin confirming your transportation plans as soon as possible. The optimal window for booking holiday tickets starts on September 25 and lasts through October 25, according to airline data gathered by AAA. The average ticket price falls by approximately $491 this month, and you may typically find excellent prices and availability that are ideally suited to your budget and unique travel plans.

Generally speaking, the cheap alternatives there are, the longer you wait to book your flight. In the weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas, last-minute visitors might be able to get reasonable seating, but getting the best rates frequently necessitates some forethought.

Avert busiest travel days

Never undervalue the time you can lose looking for airport parking, sitting in security lines, and waiting for checked bags. While it’s true that standing in line for a long time during the holiday rush can’t always be avoided, there are frequent breaks in foot traffic that you might be able to take advantage of. The Transportation Security Administration estimates that more than 26.8 million travelers will pass through security screening checkpoints between November 22 and December 2, with 2.7 million passing through on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving alone.

Book a flight that departs on holiday to escape the airport crowds. Traveling around the holidays or on Thanksgiving or Christmas may not be ideal, but it can spare you from waiting in large lines before and after your trip. It may be advantageous to leave before (or after) the Christmas season’s busiest travel days, generally from December 20 to December 24, if you’re planning to travel by automobile.

Use as little luggage as you can

Packing lightly is one of the most straightforward strategies to reduce holiday travel costs and save time at the airport. Ideally, you’ll want to pack as much as possible into your family’s carry-on luggage and minimize the number of checked bags you bring. This can lower your overall airfare and spare you from spending hours after landing waiting for your luggage at the luggage carousel.

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report, there is less than a 1% risk that a major airline will misplace your luggage, but it’s still vital to consider how it can affect your trip. It’s always a good idea to pack any gifts you’re bringing along in your carry-on bags, along with any essential personal goods.

Expect delays when traveling

Flight delays and bad weather can still slow or stop your holiday commute, even if your travel arrangements go off without a hitch. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in 2018, 99,093 flights were canceled entirely and that more than 19% of aviation in the United States experienced delays of at least 15 minutes. There are a few travel strategies that can keep you one step ahead of weather trends and airline cancellations, even though it isn’t much you can do to prevent them.

While most airlines have self-service kiosks where you can print your boarding tickets and check-in online, speaking with a professional can better understand potential delays. You might be able to rearrange planes or get last-minute seats if you go to the airport early, preventing you from being stranded with no other options.

Remember to arrange your return trip.

It’s simple to overlook the return trip when making travel arrangements for the holidays, but a choppy flight or long drive home may be very stressful. It may be beneficial to prolong your stay by one or two days after Christmas because the first few days after the holiday are frequently just as crowded for airports and roads as the week before. However, it’s crucial to remember that New Year’s Day ushers in a brand-new influx of holiday commuters to deal with. If you intend to drive home after the holidays, drive defensively and pay attention to your surroundings.