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The Ultimate Holiday Travel Survival Guide

From booking flights to packing our suitcases, holiday travel requires a bit of planning. We’ve pulled together a complete guide to help you navigate holiday travel so that you don’t have to feel stressed or anxious.

In the days leading to your flight:

Book your flight during off-peak days. The Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving are the two most expensive days to fly during the entire year. According to Orbitz, the busiest day to travel for this Thanksgiving is November 25 and the least busy day is November 30. The busiest day for Christmas travel is December 23 and the least hectic day to travel is December 27. If you can manage, flights are cheapest on Christmas Day. December 30 is known as the busiest day for New Year’s travel. Flight prices on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are significantly lower. On January 2, prices rise about 25 percent.

Aim for morning flights. Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. Flying first thing in the morning may reduce your chance of getting stuck in the crowds. Plus, if your flight gets delayed, you are less likely to have to pull an all-nighter at the airport.

Fly nonstop. Layovers can turn into travel delays. If possible, try to book a nonstop flight to your destination.

Have gifts shipped to your destination. Packing gifts with your luggage means less space for your personal belongings and increased chances of checking additional baggage. Save yourself from the hassle by opting for delivery to your destination or shipping presents yourself, ahead of time.

Pack light. If you need to bring gifts with you, use clothing as padding to avoid breaking. Also wait to wrap presents, in the event that your bag is inspected by security. Try to stick to a carry-on suitcase so that you won’t have to wait to check the bag or at the baggage carousel once you land. When packing, leave extra room to take back any gifts you may receive. Lastly, wear your heaviest clothing to free up additional space.

In the hours leading up to your flight:

Check-in online. Save yourself time by checking-in and selecting your seats before your flight. Be sure to download your airline's app just in case you need to have customer service phone numbers handy for delays or cancellations.

Check flight status. Check your flight status the night before and morning of your flight. In the event that your flight is delayed, you’ll save yourself the trouble of spending more time in the airport than necessary.

Pack snacks. Bring your favorite grab-and-go snacks to avoid long lines at concession stands. Plus, if you get stuck, you’ll have some extra fuel to keep you going!

Leave extra early. With traffic and long lines, it is best to give yourself an ample amount of time to get to the airport and past security. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands at BWI this year you can gift yourself some extra endorphins by working up a sweat at ROAM Fitness in the new connector between terminals D and E.

Stay calm. Delays and cancellations are out of your control and not worth worrying about. Just think, at least you’ll have a conversation starter at the family dinner!

MORE: Techniques to Stay Calm While Traveling

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