If you are planning to travel by plane for the holidays, you’ll want to make sure to prepare yourself for a variety of potential challenges that may arise. With lots of people all traveling at the same time, coupled with possible winter weather conditions in many parts of the country, airport travel during the holidays may not always be a smooth process. If you happen to be one of the many holiday travelers that are going to visit friends or family over Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, we have a few tips to share with you that will help lead to a stress-free travel experience.

Pack Light

Most airlines will charge additional fees for checked luggage that exceeds the recommended weight limits and finding out that your bag is over the weight limit is never a pleasant experience when arriving at the airport. Even with your carry on and personal item, lugging bags around the airport that are very heavy can add extra strain to your trip. We would recommend packing light and taking only essential items. You may also want to see if you will have access to laundry or a laundry service during your trip so that you can reduce the amount of clothes you need to pack. Also, make sure you pack in advance to avoid a last minute rush. Last minute packing will often lead to over packing.

Avoid Traveling During Peak Days

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, for instance, you may want to avoid traveling on the Wednesday before the holiday. Airlines usually increase fares during peak times and the days just before and just after holidays are usually the busiest and most expensive days to travel. The same applies if you are traveling on Christmas or New Years. If you have the opportunity, try to arrive early and stay longer so that you don’t end up having to fly on peak travel days.

Do Not Arrive Late at the Airport

While this may go without saying, always plan to arrive early. When traveling during the holidays, leave yourself more time than than you otherwise would. Depending on your location, traffic to the airport can be an issue and once you arrive, security lines will usually be longer as well.

Research Ticket Prices

Travelling during a holiday does not necessarily have to translate to expensive tickets. Be sure to spend time researching ticket prices for different airlines, different travel dates and even consider alternative airports if you have more than one airport within a reasonable distance from your house. You will generally want to book in advance for the best prices on holiday tickets, but that is not always the case. We would recommend giving the Hopper App a try which uses predictive price modeling to let you know exactly when to purchase your ticket for the best price. You can even set up automatic alerts so that you’ll be notified on your phone when it’s time to book.

Bring Provisions

There is nothing more stressing than traveling when you are hungry. So eat something at home before you go. If you don’t have time for this, then carry some food with you. Be careful with what you eat and play it safe with your food choices so that you don’t end up with an upset stomach. In addition to food, carry some bottled water to keep you hydrated.

Be Friendly

The security officers at the airport and the flight attendants will quickly become your best friends should you run into an issue and need their help. Be kind to them and know that you may have to rely on these individuals for help at some point during your travels.

Plan for the Kids

If you are planning to travel with kids, you will want to plan for them in advance. Make sure you allow yourself extra time for every step of the process, from leaving the house to landing at your final destination. Make sure you have all necessary items packed for your children and be sure to have entertainment options for them so they are occupied and happy during your flight.

Apply for TSA Precheck

Apply for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, for international travel, to save time getting into the airport. While there is certainly some paperwork involved along with a brief interview process, it is well worth the effort and cost in our opinion. Even if this isn’t something you’ll have time to do for this coming holiday, your TSA Precheck will be valid for 5 years before renewal so you can plan for this for next year’s holiday travel. Make long security lines a thing of your past and get yourself TSA pre-check!

Take Advantage of Package Deals

If you are in need of more than just a flight and will also be needing a hotel and rental car for your trip, consider researching package deals for additional savings. Package deals can be hit or miss, but coming across a good package deal can save you quite a bit of money.

Be Calm

Never get angry; even if things do not go the way you had planned. Take a deep breath and calm down to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

Traveling during the holiday does not have to be a stressful experience. Use the tips highlighted above to have a happy and stress-free holiday travel experience!