holiday travel

Surviving the ups and downs of holiday travel is made easier with expert tips. (Photo: Getty)

Tips + Trends

Holiday Travel Survival Guide: Tips From Experts & Insiders

Delayed. Delayed. Delayed. Delayed. If you’re gearing up to travel this holiday season, that is the last word you want to see on the airport departures board. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to try to avoid some of the season’s biggest transportation nightmares.

We checked in with Marriott Bonvoy insiders and other frequent travelers and asked them to spill their secrets for traveling between Thanksgiving and New Years. Below are some of the top tips for surviving holiday travel.

Taxis and ride shares may not be the fastest way – research airport transportation before you go.

Airport and city traffic can clog streets, especially during prime travel times. Instead of taking a taxi or ride share to or from the airport, look into public transit and shuttle options. The subway or train might be cheaper and get you there faster.

Don’t travel with gifts – ship them ahead of time.

This one’s a no-brainer. Shipping your gifts ahead of time lets you stress less about lost luggage, mishandled bags, or extra fees and hassle from carrying your gifts with you.

Skip the hold music on customer service phone lines – use Twitter instead.

#GetHelpFaster: Airlines and other travel companies staff up their social customer service departments to help people answer questions about their tickets or to rebook a flight. Just tweet to the company’s Twitter handle and ask your questions there.

Stranded? Book on your phone.

If your flight gets delayed, or poor weather gives you reason to rebook, use your airline’s booking app to quickly update your travel itinerary. This can prove quicker than calling a customer service line with long wait times.

Do not pack your scarf.

Keep it on you at all times – you never know when you’ll need a blanket, a folded up pillow, or a makeshift eye mask.

Avoid delays by booking the earliest flight of the day.

Early flights are delayed less often, partially because they aren’t hit by domino effect slowdowns have as the day goes on. If you’re on the first flight and it does get delayed or cancelled, you’ll have more options to reschedule.

Take the night train.

Think a 3 a.m. departure or 2:30 a.m. arrival sounds too early? Most people traveling by rail agree, which means late-night trains will be less crowded and less expensive. If you can stand a night of sit-up sleep you’ll dodge the crush of humanity that clogs major train stations during prime travel times.

Travel ON the Actual Holiday

You can get great flight deals if you travel to resorts or other vacation destinations ON Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, after the pre-holiday crush of travelers have settled into their destinations.

Fly direct.

That $100 cheaper connecting fare may look tempting when you’re booking, but two or more flights mean much higher chances you’ll get delayed or miss a connection. Give yourself a holiday treat and splurge on the nonstop route.

Bring a charged power strip.

Losing phone power without an outlet in sight might just be worse than traffic or delays. Untether yourself by charging up a portable power cell before you go and keeping it in your carry-on.