1. Rethink your gift-giving strategy.
Get your mom a massage at her favorite spa, have a case of beer mugs for your dad shipped to your parents house and wrap after you get there, give your siblings gift cards, whatever you do - don't travel with presents. Flying or driving, your gifts can get crushed, lost or damaged and it's 2017, you can find everything online nowadays or make like a Millennial and give the "Gift of Experience" like a service, a trip or tickets.
2. Shove all of your stuff into a carry on.
Trust us. A snow storm in Boston can effect your flight from Florida to Arizona. Winter weather delays spread in wide and weird ways. You may be Home-Alone-sprinting to make your connection and there's a solid chance your checked bag won't keep up. Wear your heavy coat and boots and fit everything else into a four-wheeled carry on and messenger bag or backpack. Save the checked-bag fee, save the checked-bag stress, easy win.
3. Apps and Snacks.
Nope, this isn't a cocktail party. Download Hopper to tell you when to book your flight, MyTSA gives estimated airport wait times, GateGuru helps you navigate airports, Waze helps navigates the roads and highways around traffic, find the cheapest gas and the cleanest bathrooms with GasBuddy and SitorSquat and finally, Headspace Meditation app for three minute breathing exercises to keep your sanity through it all... and snacks. Pack snacks because hanger is a real thing.
4. BYO Sleep Aids and/or Entertainment.
If you're taking the red eye, be sure to bring an eye mask, ear plugs, a light blanket (they don't always give them out on flights anymore plus it's wasteful) and a sleep aid like ZzzQuil or melatonin. If you're flying during the day, pack your own headphones to watch in flight movies and bring a refillable water bottle to cut back on one use plastic. Podcasts or playlists on Spotify will keep you bumping on the road but make sure you have a few downloaded on reserve to get you through spotty or no cell service zones.
5. Be Merry.
If you think it sucks to travel during the holidays, try being the person who has to work that mess. Stress levels are at an all time high for airline employees this time of year and a simple smile can mean a lot. No matter what happens - flight delays, rowdy passengers, long security lines; take a deep breath, be still and be kind. That goes for bumper-to-bumper traffic too. The Holiday Travel Mantra "This is a temporary moment in time." You'll get through this, we'll get through this and we'll all be drinking holiday cocktails together sometime real soon.