'Tis the season to be traveling, whether you're jetting off to far-flung places or taking a road trip to see family. Crowded airports and gridlocked roads — not to mention free-floating anxiety — can make holiday travel a headache. With our holiday travel tips, though, it doesn't have to be.
1. Avoid Flying at Peak Times
If your travel schedule is flexible, avoid flying on the busiest days of the season: the day before Thanksgiving and the two days immediately preceding and following Christmas and New Year's. Also, book flights at off-peak times, such as early morning. If at all possible, fly on the holiday itself, when airports have an almost empty, tumbleweed-blowing-in-the-desert feel.
2. Hit the Road With Technology by Your Side
Portable GPS navigators are wondrous things, providing the fastest and most direct routes to your destination — and voice auto-commands help keep your eyes on the road. Upgraded models offer real-time traffic information, but unless your car has built-in GPS capability, these can be pricey. A much more economical alternative — as infree — is Google Maps, available on most smartphones. It not only provides driving directions but also has color-coded lines indicating the severity of traffic ahead: green lines indicate good conditions, yellow means fair, and red or red/black signal poor conditions.
3. Travel Light
Don't be weighed down with packages. Order gifts online, and have them sent directly to the recipient, or mail your packages ahead of time. If you're a procrastinator, you can take advantage of the annual Free Shipping Day on December 17, when some 1,500 merchants guarantee free delivery by Christmas Eve. And, if you're flying, don't wrap the gifts you bring — airlines have the right to open any wrapped package.