Tips for a successful, stress-free holiday travel season

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Millions of people fly the friendly skies, ride the rails or hit the highway come the holiday season. Such travel can be both expensive and stressful. But holiday travel need not be so costly or tense. The following are a handful of tips to help travelers enjoy successful and stress-free travel this holiday season.

• Reserve early. Fares only rise as the holidays draw closer. It’s unlikely you will score a last-minute deal by waiting until the last minute to book holiday travel, as discount fares are largely a thing of past. If your travel schedule is inflexible, book as early as possible. You might be able to save some money if you have some flexibility with regard to your travel schedule.

• Fly on the holiday. Very often flying on popular holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, is less expensive than flying on the surrounding days. If your goal is to save money and you don’t mind showing up on the holiday itself, then flying on the holiday may earn you the most savings.

• Book a business hotel. Hotels that cater to business clientele in big cities often reduce their rates during the holidays, when business travel tends to wane.

• Consider flying into and out of smaller airports. What they lack in size, number of flights and modern comforts, smaller airports can make up for in fewer delays and smaller crowds. Flying into and out of a smaller airport may be especially advantageous if such an airport is closer to your home or final destination.

• Get pre-screened security clearance. The TSA Pre-Check Program enables some people to move quickly through security checkpoints. This can help save a considerable amount of time. Visit to learn who qualifies.

• Do not wrap gifts prior to traveling. If you must bring gifts along, your move through security will likely be quicker if those gifts are not wrapped. Unwrapped gifts save officers the time of removing wrapping paper to inspect what’s inside, so reserve the wrapping for when you arrive at your destination.

• Have an alternate plan in place. Unforeseeable delays or cancellations can turn even the most carefully planned itinerary on its head. Keep phone numbers for taxi services and hotels handy just in case your flight is delayed and you do not want to spend a night at the airport.

• Avoid domestic or popular holiday destinations. One way to avoid the holiday crowds is to head off for parts of the world that are not celebrating the same holiday as you. Such locales likely won’t attract as many tourists as other parts of the world, and you might be able to save money by visiting during the offseason.

• Take your turn hosting. People who do the holiday hosting do not have to worry about holiday travel at all. Even though it can mean more prep work and cleanup, hosting duty saves you the headaches and expenses of holiday travel.

— Metro Creative