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How to beat the holiday madness when flying

Fly through the holidays

For many of us, traveling to see family at the holidays is a must-do. And in that case, traveling involves flying. This makes the holiday travel season an unavoidable hassle. While traveling during this time may not be relaxing, you don't have to arrive at your destination a stressed-out mess.

Crowded airport

Know when to fly

If you haven't booked your tickets yet for the holidays — or if you've been trying to decide if you should make that last-minute trip — you might get lucky. Sometimes flights can decrease in price the closer you get to your travel date. If you fly on a holiday, you will face shorter lines and less-crowded airports as well.

Thanksgiving morning is a prime example. Traveling on Thanksgiving day might not work for longer trips; however, if the flight is only a couple hours, you could leave in the morning and arrive in time for turkey dinner. Sure, this will make for a long day but avoiding the crowds sure seems worth it! Plus, the flight most likely will be less expensive.

Traveling with kids

If you have young kids, give them special toys, snacks and treatment while traveling. This can help keep them distracted and stress-free. From iPads to iPhones and Kindles, there are electronic devices that will hold your kids attention on long trips. Of course good old-fashioned coloring books and travel-sized board games might do the trick as well.

Arrange for pet care ahead of time

If you're leaving your pup behind for the holidays, it's best not to leave the task of getting them where they need to go until the last minute. If you're having someone watch them, boarding them or taking them to day care, it's a good idea to take care of it the day prior. You'll be more focused and able to make sure they have everything they need for your time away. Then you can turn your energy to your own preparations.

Pack light and don't check a bag

I never check baggage — I'd gladly tote my rolling suitcase through the concourses and have to find a spot in the overhead bin than wait to check it, wait to pick it up and all the while worrying it might have gotten lost. This is a great option, especially if you're taking a short trip such as over Thanksgiving weekend. It will drastically cut down on the time you spend in airport lines. But if that's just not possible, make sure you're under the weight limit of your airline's requirements and consider checking curbside. You'll usually have to tip a few bucks out of courtesy, but time is money (and sanity).

Book and pay for everything online

Never stand in line at the airport (well, except for security). If you check in online, pick your seat assignment and don't check baggage, you can go right through security and to your gate. It's (relatively) a breeze! Even if you are checking luggage, checking it online makes it easier because there are typically separate check-in counters for e-tickets and those who have already checked in online, enabling you to bypass lengthy lines.

Even when holiday travel situations become stressful, try to keep in mind that spending time with family is more important than an airline snafu here and there.

More travel tips

Holiday travel survival guide
3 Resorts for a winter getaway
5 Best cities for a Christmas vacation

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