7 Tips to Travel Better This Holiday Season

Navigating holiday travel can be quite stressful, given the crowded airports, congested roads, and escalated prices across various aspects such as hotel reservations and rental cars. To compound matters, the ongoing pandemic introduces an additional layer of logistical challenges to holiday journeys. International travelers must contend with testing, vaccination, and quarantine mandates, while those staying within the U.S. must remain mindful of safety precautions.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled insights from seven seasoned travelers to assist you in orchestrating an optimal holiday trip. Seeking advice on navigating the intricacies of holiday travel in 2024, we gathered tips to ensure you make the most of your winter break. Here are the endorsed suggestions.

Double check admission hours for attractions

Ivan Wainwright of RDW Kenteken says, When planning your visit to popular destinations during the holiday season, it’s essential to verify the admission hours for attractions. Guidebooks often provide regular schedules, such as being open from Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. However, it’s crucial to note that special operating hours may apply, especially around Christmas. 

If there’s a specific attraction that holds significance for you, make sure to confirm its availability on your intended day of visit. Additionally, consider making reservations for attractions where applicable to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.

Research COVID-19 restrictions before booking — and again before traveling

Dan Eastman of Ship Tracking says, Before making any travel arrangements, it’s important to thoroughly research COVID-19 restrictions, as they are subject to change. Despite destinations being open and travel resuming, it’s crucial to remember that certain restrictions may still be in place. Travelers should take the initiative to understand and adhere to the guidelines of each country they plan to visit, as these guidelines can vary.

Experts, including travel advisors, can provide valuable insights into the specific restrictions that may apply to your chosen destination. Planning well in advance and staying informed about the latest developments will contribute to a smoother travel experience.

Be a contrarian traveler

Sean Philips of FlightRadar Online says, Consider exploring less frequented destinations, diverging from the popular choices for Christmas and New Year’s, as suggested by a seasoned traveler. Rather than opting for the typical warm locales like Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, or Hawaii, think about unconventional options such as Europe. Countries like Italy, Greece, or Spain may offer warm weather and the potential for more affordable airfare.

Challenge the norm by choosing destinations that aren’t as commonly visited. Instead of the well-trodden paths to Costa Rica or Nicaragua, explore alternatives like Belize or perhaps Guatemala. The idea is to venture to places that aren’t part of the typical holiday travel circuit. Embrace the road less traveled for a unique and memorable holiday experience.

Be kind to airline and airport staff

While you’re enjoying your holiday vacation, it’s essential to remember that the airline and airport staff are still working to ensure your smooth journey. Treating them with kindness and respect can significantly enhance your travel experience, especially during a time when many people are feeling stressed.

These individuals often face undue frustration from nearby passengers, so a simple act of kindness can brighten their day. Consider being courteous and appreciative of their efforts. Small gestures, like bringing a bag of snacks for the airline staff, can go a long way and may result in excellent service in return. It’s a simple way to contribute to a positive atmosphere during your travels.

Bring a spare change of clothes in your carry-on

Andrew Adams of Vluchten Volgen says, During the holiday season, airports become crowded, leading to more checked bags and increased potential for errors, according to a seasoned travel expert. To be ready for any unforeseen circumstances, it’s advisable to prepare for the worst possible outcome.

Statistics indicate a significant uptick in lost bags during busier travel days, with a potential 50% increase over the average. Therefore, the likelihood of experiencing a lost bag is higher on a Christmas trip compared to a less busy time. As a precautionary measure, it’s recommended to always pack a spare change of clothes in your carry-on, ensuring you can manage any inconvenience that may arise during your journey.

Prepare yourself for stress — and accept that things can go wrong

While you can meticulously follow the tips and make necessary preparations for holiday travel, the most crucial advice is acknowledging that things might not go as planned, according to an experienced travel host. Being mentally prepared for potential hiccups, regardless of how well-prepared you are, is essential.

As a traveler during the bustling holiday season, adopting a certain mindset is key. Whether you’re in a premium seat or towards the back of the plane, it’s important to recognize that you’re navigating through the busiest time of the year, and challenges may arise. Cultivate a zen-like approach, avoiding unnecessary frustration over minor inconveniences such as flight delays, late crews, seating arrangements, or limited meal options. By maintaining a calm demeanor, you’ll find yourself sitting through the journey with a more content and positive outlook.

Take advantage of “dead weeks” for discounted airfare

Holiday travel doesn’t have to align precisely with the festive days. For those on a budget, a cost-effective approach is to plan celebrations away from home around the beginning of the new year or post-Thanksgiving.

In the travel industry, two specific weeks are dubbed as “dead weeks.” These are the weeks following Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The week after Thanksgiving is typically avoided due to post-family gathering recovery, and the week after New Year’s sees reduced travel as people recuperate from the holiday season.

To make the most of this opportunity, consider traveling starting on January 3 and taking the week off. During these “dead weeks,” travel activity is notably lower, allowing you to celebrate the new year on your terms, within your budget, and with friends without stretching your finances. It’s worth noting that the concept of “dead weeks” applies globally to airlines, presenting an opportunity for discounted airfare.


Optimizing your holiday travel experience involves more than just packing and planning. By considering less conventional destinations, staying kind to airport staff, preparing for potential disruptions, and exploring discounted “dead weeks,” you can navigate the busy holiday season with greater ease and enjoyment. Remember that a flexible mindset and strategic timing can contribute significantly to a smoother journey, allowing you to create lasting memories during this special time of the year.