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Tips for Traveling Over the Holidays

Tips for Traveling Over the Holidays

by Hope Heldmar

So you've decided to trade in the snow for some sand this holiday season. Whether you're meeting the whole family, taking a romantic trip for two or just treating yourself, you deserve a little R&R at the end of the year. Before you're knee deep in the Caribbean Sea, you'll have to make it through bustling crowds during one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. But don't sweat it! If you follow our expert advice, you'll breeze on through to the beach in no time.

1. Book Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year trips as early as you can. Bookings around the holidays sell out fast and there are a lot more restrictions this time of year than other travel periods.

2. Be flexible with dates and times of flights where possible. Sometimes leaving a day before or after a planned date, or taking a later or earlier flight on the same day can save money!

3. All-inclusive properties usually throw big New Year's Eve bashes. Check with your resort ahead of time to avoid a fashion faux pas. You don't want to show up to a ballroom soiree in flip-flops or to a sandy beach party in your best cocktail attire!

4. Dress in layers on flight days to go from cold to hot weather comfortably and with ease.

5. If your airline offers it, check in online and print your boarding passes at home to save time.

6. Pack light. Keep your luggage to a carry-on and personal item. Not only will you dodge the snaking line to check bags, you'll skip past baggage claim when you land. Plus, you'll save some dough on hefty baggage fees.

7. Arrive at the airport even earlier than usual. With the congestion of holiday travelers, traffic getting to the airport will be worse and security lines will take longer than usual.

8. If you decide to travel with only a carry-on and personal item, know the size and weight rules and don't forget to put all of your liquids (3 ounces or less) in a clear plastic bag so you don't hold up the security line. A new TSA rule says that travelers older than 70 and younger than eight don't have to take their shoes off in security. So grandma and the kiddos can get through the line even quicker.

9. With so many smart holiday travelers like you opting to skip baggage claim, the overhead space in the cabin will likely fill up quickly. So, there's a chance you'll have to check your carry-on at the last minute. Be prepared for this and pack your most important items in the smaller carry-on that goes under the seat in front of you during the flight. Plus, some airlines let you board early if you're traveling with just one carry-on.

10. If you're celebrating Christmas in paradise, ship your gifts directly to your resort before you leave to save space in your carry-on. Use the same tactic if you're headed home with gifts for yourself.

11. If you decide to take gifts with you on the plane, save yourself the heartache and don't wrap them until you arrive, because TSA will likely have to unwrap them.

12. Use smartphone apps like GateGuru, Flight Tracker and Flight Status to be in the know on what airport amenities are available to you and to get notifications about flight delays or changes. Some airlines have mobile apps with this information too.

13. If your resort requires a la carte restaurant reservations, try to secure them as soon as you check in to beat the holiday crowd.

14. Overall, remain positive and patient. Getting through the airport may not be fun, but with these suggestions, you'll have your feet in the warm sand faster than you can say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.