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10 Best Holiday Travel Tips

How to make your trip bearable — maybe even pleasant — despite the crowds

6. Pack light for air travel

Take only a carry-on bag, even if it means leaving an outfit or two at home. That sacrifice will save you time on both ends of the trip, and if your flight is canceled it simplifies scoring a seat on another flight.

7. Have a backup plan

You can't predict travel snafus, but you can make like a Boy Scout and be prepared for anything. If you're driving, know alternative routes so you can adjust if traffic is bad. If you're flying, know the alternative flights and connecting cities to your destination in case of delays or cancellations.

8. Bring provisions

Take snacks, games, books, magazines, portable music or DVD players and other diversions to pass the time if your flight is delayed or you're stuck in traffic. (This is vital, of course, if you're traveling with kids.)

9. Turn your phone into a travel tool

Sign up with your airline to receive flight status updates on your phone, or load your smartphone with mobile travel alert apps from Amtrak or state highway authorities. Before leaving home, make sure your phone is fully charged and holds all the numbers you could possibly need, including family, friends, hotel, airline, rental car agency and credit card companies.

10. Think twice about holiday gifts

If you'll be traveling by air, ship presents in advance or shop online and have them delivered to your destination. If you do take gifts along, make them small and packable, and don't wrap them beforehand: Even if they're in checked luggage, security personnel may need to open them for inspection.

Christopher Hall writes about travel, food and architecture.

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