With all that there is to do around the holidays when you find yourself tangled in lights and up to your elbows in wrapping paper, in dire need of a stiff eggnog, the last stress you need is the headache of figuring out your holiday travel arrangements.  So to make sure that you don’t have a meltdown in an airport terminal, feeling like you need a vacation after your holiday vacation, check out the following travel tips to ensure your holidays are your merriest yet!

Travel Tip #1:  Fly on the holiday.  As flights that are booked midweek, early or late in the day can save you from breaking the bank, same goes for taking to the skies on the holidays.  Because pockets are stretched during the happiest (but most expensive) time of the year, you’ll really be feeling the holiday cheer when you’re 30,000 feet in the air on the way to Grandma’s house knowing that you won’t be in debt until next Christmas.

Travel Tip #2:  Look for last-minute deals.  For all you procrastinators out there who still haven’t booked your flights and think all hope is lost for finding a good deal on airfare, fear not!  Data this year indicates that many airlines were too optimistic with their pricing and as a result they are trying to fill up empty seats…creating deals that are popping up everywhere.  Keep your eyes open and jump on the first special you see!

Editor’s Note: Don’t try this in India or you will end up with no tickets ! 🙂

Travel Tip #3:  Ship gifts.  Whether you soldiered through the crowds of crazed holiday shoppers at the mall or crossed everyone off your gift giving list with a few clicks of the mouse online, if you are traveling to see the gift recipient, it is often best to have your gifts shipped directly to them.  However, depending on the size and amount of packages you will be sending, do your homework to make sure shipping through a courier is the best bet.  If so, this will not only save you the hassle of packing presents and dragging Santa’s bag through airport security, but it will also save you from exorbitant baggage fees.  Should you bring gifts with you on the plane, remember to keep them unwrapped so that security can easily assess them.

Travel Tip #4:  Pack an empty suitcase.  If you aren’t traveling by air or won’t get hit with extra baggage fees, bringing an extra piece of luggage on your trip can be another frugal choice.  A fold-up duffel can be easily packed and will provide you with the means to carry home all the goodies you receive for having been so good this year.  Again, do your homework and calculate the cost of shipping your gifts home instead and select the most affordable option.

Travel Tip #5:  Stay healthy.  Other than spreading joy throughout the holiday season, for many travelers, something less festive spread are germs.  Keep that in mind before you head to the airport or gear up for a colder climate.  Make sure you fill all of your prescriptions, drink plenty of water and pack travel sized Airborne and hand sanitizer, remembering to wash your hands on the regular.

Travel Tip #6:  Plan ahead.  Because the holidays are the busiest time to be on the roads and in the air, delays are expected around this time of year with bad weather, traffic or mechanical issues; however there are ways to avoid the stress that comes along with such obstructions in your path by planning ahead.  When traveling by plane, when you can, try to avoid connecting flights even if it means forking over a little extra dough.  If you have no other option but to select a connection, make sure that the layover is long enough so that you have ample time to make your flight should there be delays.  On the day of travel, check the news for road traffic and check the status of your flight if heading to the airport.  Plan on leaving earlier than you normally would on your journey.

Now that you know the top tips for travel this holiday season, you are sure to enjoy a smooth trip to partake in festivities with your family and friends!  Happy holidays and safe travels!

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Mark Weikel is a guest post author and an avid traveler.  In addition to these hobbies, Mark also contributes his work as a writer to gay dating sites where he offers his advice for safe online dating.