10 Expert Tips to Ease the Stress of Holiday Travel

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s the busiest time for travel. Whether you are going home to visit family or taking your family away from it all, holiday travel can be stressful.

A vacation shouldn’t start only once you reach your destination; you want to feel relaxed from the moment you leave your house.

Tips to Ease Holiday Travel Stress

Ease Holiday Travel Stress
Take Away your Holiday Travel Stress

Our travel tips will help you ease the stress of holiday travel and let you get on with what’s important about the holidays. And that is enjoying the time spent with the ones you love.

Ease your holiday travel stress by also reading about how to stay healthy abroad

Use the right app like TripIt Pro

The key to having a pleasant trip is to be informed and up to date about any changes or surprises.

Knowing when you are flying, where you are sitting, exactly when you can check-in, or when you can choose or change your seats makes everything so much easier.

The TripIt app alerts you of all flight information including delays, gate changes, and when better seats become available.

Once you’ve given TripIt permission to access your travel information, it does the work for you letting you concentrate on what matters like, how many shoes you need to take with you.

ease the stress of holiday travel
Dave gets an update from TripIt

Arrive Early

It sounds so easy, but we see people all the time scrambling at the airport. We’re frequent fliers and we still always arrive early.

The more we travel, the more we realize that anything can go wrong at any time.

We’ve seen people standing at the parking lot complaining about waiting for the shuttle because their flight is leaving in less than an hour.

All I want to say to them is “why are you here so late?” If they gave themselves the suggested 3-hours they wouldn’t be stressed or worried.

ease the stress of holiday travel
We always arrive early

If you want even more convenience, utilize the valet service.

We always use ParknFly  (a popular airport parking lot in Canada) in Toronto (we see there is a U.S. ParknFly as well) and buy our parking online. For a low fee of $20 we upgrade to valet service getting us closer to the airport with more frequent shuttle buses.

We never wait for more than 5 minutes.

It’s worth it to us to have ease and convenience. Check with your airport parking service to see if they offer Valet upgrades.

Check-in online

The TripIt app will alert you the moment you can check-in, and checking in online will save you a ton of time at the airport.

You can print out your boarding pass or upload it onto your phone and bypass the long lines at check-in.

If you travel carryon only, you can go directly to security.

If you do have luggage, many airlines now have a luggage drop-off desk for those travelers savvy enough to have already checked it.

It moves faster and more efficiently than the regular check in line.

Skip the security lane

ease the stress of holiday travel by arriving early
get through security fast to enjoy your day

There are many premium credit cards that allow you to use the fast lane.

Or if you are like us and loyal to one airline, you will most likely have membership status that lets you go through a separate security lane.

The regular holiday travelers will be standing in the long security lines filled with people who don’t quite know all the rules thus slowing everything down.

If you have the right travel credit card for your airport (ours is American Express Platinum for Toronto) you can bypass the pubic line and join the frequent fliers.

Check with your credit card company to see which premium card gives you travel perks.

You can also apply for Global Entry (for Americans) or Nexus (for Canadians) and be granted access to the express security lane for frequent fliers. Believe me, every little bit of time saved adds up.

Find out How the TripIt App Makes Travel Easier

Be prepared for security

Going through security is the biggest hassle of airport travel.

There are so many rules it’s difficult to keep up and with each airport, it changes.

I am simply prepared for all situations. I keep a separate tote bag handy before going through security with my computer and liquids already separated.

That way I don’t have to rummage through my carryon roller looking for things.

All liquids are less than 100ml and already separated in a plastic bag.

When it gets to my turn, I whip out my computer and liquids, put them in the tray and then set my bag either in the bin or on the belt.

I prefer to wear slip-on shoes for quick security checks and instead of asking if they need to be taken off to go through security, I just take them off anyway and put them in the bin with my sunglasses, purse, and sweater.

It’s just easier that way.

Once our bags go through, I put everything I had in my tote into my suitcase and conveniently roll it away.

Check out more travel tips at : 7 Steps to Stress Free Travel

Go to a lounge.

holiday travel stress made easy in a lounge
Enjoying the tranquility of the lounge

This is your holiday and time to invest a bit of cash to make your time at the airport enjoyable.

Lounges aren’t just for airline membership status members anymore. Anyone can pay a fee to stay in a lounge.

Look for lounges that are not associated with an airline. We have Priority Pass through our credit card and have free access to more than 600 lounges around the world.

If you don’t have Priority Pass, you can buy a day pass. Lounge passes cost anywhere from $25-$40 and are worth every penny.

There’s unlimited alcohol (although we don’t recommend drinking too much when flying) hot food, quiet areas, free Internet, charging stations and lounge chairs.

Often times there’s even a shower to freshen up between flights.

While chaos is happening outside in the public part of the airport, you’ll be listening to relaxing music or watching TV in a tranquil setting.

Create a Care Package for the flight

I love having everything I need at my fingertips.

Before boarding the plane, I make sure to have a small tote filled with anything I may need during the flight.

There is nothing worse than having to rummage through your carryon bag stuffed away in the overhead bin to search for an item you need.

Instead, I have a small package containing must-have items.

My care package consists of:

Headphones, eye mask, Advil, earplugs, Chapstick, a small tube of moisturizer, a pen and a sweater in case I get cold.

It fits conveniently under my seat and if I need anything, I can get to it easily.

Pay extra for a Premium Seat

As a frequent flier, I can attest that premium seats make all the difference.

While it’s difficult for people who don’t have airline status (meaning you fly a lot) to get an upgrade, many flights offer premium economy seats that make your flight just a little more comfortable.

The premium economy seats are located near the front of the plane, there’s extra legroom, and seats are usually wider.

That extra space makes all the difference during the flight and being near the front of the plane lets you be one of the first off the plane, so you can beat the lines to immigration.

Download your own Entertainment

Many airlines are now charging for entertainment and often times if they do offer inflight entertainment, it doesn’t work of the selection is awful.

We never rely on others for entertainment; we download our favorite TV show or a few movies on our iPhone and have hours on stress-free entertainment.

Holiday Stress tips
Enjoying our own entertainment

Stay over at the Airport Hotel

And finally, if you want to start your holidays a bit early, book a night at the airport hotel.

Many hotels offer parking packages where you can book a night before your flight and leave your car for up to two weeks in their parking lot.

You can then catch their free shuttle to the airport in the morning. It takes all the stress out of holiday travel and gives you an extra bonus night for your vacation.

When we travel for short periods, we always use an airport hotel.

Many times, the nights’ stay is the same as booking a parking space for a couple of weeks.

Read Next: 6 Tips to Help you Plan Your Dream Trip

Do you have any tips to help ease the stress of holiday travel? Are you traveling this holiday season?

If so, make sure to plan ahead and be prepared. An informed traveler is a happy traveler.

So enjoy your holidays and don’t let the airport get you down, instead start enjoying your trip, the minute you leave home.

This article is in partnership with TripIt but like everything on ThePlanetD, we would never endorse or recommend something if we don’t use it and love it ourselves. 

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

20 thoughts on “10 Expert Tips to Ease the Stress of Holiday Travel”

  1. i am in love with all of this tips you shared, and especially the entertainemnet part . I carry my 256 GB hard Disk with me all the time

    Reply
  2. hi… gets you have always amazing ideas for different kind of things.You are defining here about travel this is also good as same .Your blogs are amazing and always change a point of my mind .The best thing is this blog is you are enjoying every moment of this tour…You are a cheerful person .

    Reply
    • You said it. It helps to centre you and bring a sense of calm that you sometimes can’t find in the middle of the every day stresses of life.

      Reply
  3. Good tips. I just recently got Global Entry and it is worth every penny. To be able to bypass the long lines and actually go and enjoy a meal was worth the costs of Global Entry. We always get to the airport early, and like you don’t understand the people who wait until the last minute to get to the airport. Another tip to consider is actually flying on the holiday. No one is at the airport that day and its very enjoyable flight.

    Reply
  4. Great article, very useful clues.If you are often in trip , you have to find all the charm of your journey . Premium seat is really good idea .

    Reply
  5. Great tips. The most important thing is definitely arriving early! Being prepared for security and being able to cut the line is really helpful, especially during holiday times. Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  6. Thank you very much for sharing this travel tips for us. I think Holiday travel is very important for all people. It can refreshes our mind and makes us intelligent.

    Reply
  7. Great tip on downloading and bringing your own entertainment, shocking that a lot of airlines are now charging for it. Flights are already so expensive!

    Reply
  8. Great common sense tips. The day I fly is ‘fly day’, and that’s all I’m concerned about. I get to the airport early, and whip out my priority pass card, or if I’ve managed to snag business a class with airline points, I had to the business class lounge. Particularly, in the winter, I purposely book a night flight out of Korea. I’ve seen six inches of snow fall on ‘fly day’, and thankfully it had melted before heading out to the bus. Had I been trying to get to the airport in the morning, I would have been in panic mode.

    Reply
    • We have found that the lounge can actually save money. I told my brother about it and he loved the fact that you are fed and can have a beer or a couple glasses of wine. We’ve spent $50 on a meal at an airport, while at the lounge you can have food, drinks and free wifi, but most importantly, peace and quiet. The Amex Lounge at Toronto Pearson is $40 for 2 hours. Not bad It’s not for everyone, but we like hiding away in a lounge.

      Reply
  9. I love the tips you’ve shared here. I’ll try to adopt some of those on my next travel abroad to avoid long lines.

    Reply