people running on Barcelona Airport

Signing up for TSA PreCheck is one way to avoid airport lags during the busy holiday season. (Getty Images)

We've all been there. Bulging bags. Flight delays. Grumpy kids. Inclement weather conditions. Unfortunately, holiday travel can make Grinches out of the best of us. But fret not: We sought guidance from travel insiders to help make holiday travel feel more bearable. Whether your idea of the perfect winter wonderland involves piña coladas and sea breezes, hot chocolate and ski slopes or a roaring fire in the family hearth, follow the advice below and plan ahead to make the best out of your time in transit this season. From last-minute deals to family travel advice to packing tips, U.S. News has you covered.

[See: 10 Things to Do Immediately After Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed.]

Take Advantage of Holiday Trends and Deals

Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of the online travel magazine Family Traveller, has visited more than 33 countries. Poirot plans to travel over the holidays, and she's not alone. According to AAA, 107.3 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday season, the highest year-end volume on record, with 97.4 Americans projected to travel by car, 6.4 million by air and 3.6 million by bus, train and cruise ship. Over the years, Poirot has noticed an increase in popularity of more off-the-beaten-path destinations like Iceland, "which has been on the rise and continues to draw travelers who want to see glaciers and hot springs," she says.

Poirot has also seen an uptick in holiday travelers heading to undiscovered hot spots like Panama and Nicaragua, as well as more families diving into the Galápagos Islands and Ecuador. Poirot also notes that European destinations like Croatia are drawing travelers interested in taking the path less wandered by losing themselves, in the case of Croatia, among the legendary landscapes and filming locations from the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones."

When considering more traditional destinations like those in the Caribbean, Poirot points out that most of the islands are open for business, despite this year's damaging hurricane season. According to Poirot, travelers may be able to find deals to unscathed islands such as "Aruba, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Nevis the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and even Turks and Caicos," which she says "have already reopened, despite receiving hurricane damage." On the other hand, she advises waiting to visit Puerto Rico, St. Marten, St. Barth’s and the Virgin Islands, "as they will be rebuilding for several months."

Keep the Kids Happy on Long Trips

With a day job as president of her own public relations firm representing clients in over 100 countries, Laura Davidson is a seasoned traveler. But she also knows a thing or two about family travel, thanks to crisscrossing the globe with her two boys.

When taking a holiday road trip, Davidson makes sure each child has their own portable phone charger to avoid arguments over the one in the car. For long airplane rides, "everyone needs their own backpack with their own distractions," she says. "Don't count on domestic flights to have movies your kids will love. Have them downloaded ahead of time on their iPads," she says. For teens and adults, Davidson recommends downloading favorite Netflix series ahead of time. "Last time my flight was delayed, I watched four episodes of 'The Crown' and didn’t mind a bit," she says. When her boys were younger, Davidson says she would carry small surprises that require assembly or imagination, like Lego kits, to keep the kids occupied in case of airport delays.

[See: Kids on a Plane: How to Entertain Children Without Losing Your Mind.]

Avoid Holiday Hassles at the Airport

Davidson stacks the deck in her family’s favor at the airport by following a few simple rules. First, she checks in online to avoid lengthy lines. Then, she arrives at the airport extra early. "Three hours prior to flight time is a safe bet," she says, adding that she keeps important documents in an easily accessible place to avoid having to dig through her bag at security.

Signing up for TSA PreCheck, the government program which allows pre-qualified U.S. citizens expedited passage through security, is worth it, Davidson says. That way, you can avoid having to take off shoes and remove computers from bags at security. If one parent has TSA PreCheck, kids age 12 and under will get it on their boarding passes, she says. Davidson also recommends downloading the airline's app ahead of time and signing up for text alerts "to stay informed about any changes to the flight."


RELATED CONTENT

RELATED CONTENT

11 Upscale Airport Hotels That Take the Stress Out of Holiday Travel

These accommodations offer added convenience and comfort while away from home for the holidays.


Navigate Weather Delays and Disruptions with Ease

"Unfortunately, winter weather delays are often unavoidable," Poirot says. "Choosing drive-to locations of direct flights can help eliminate some of the stress, but if you've discovered you will be delayed, don't allow this to ruin your vacation." Instead, she suggests taking advantage of airport services like salons that offer massages or sit-down restaurants to kill time before your next flight.

If your flight is canceled, Poirot says it is much more effective to call the airline from the airport instead of waiting in-person to talk to a reservations agent. By calling, "you will get through quicker and they can help accommodate you on a new flight, and help you find seats together and confirm them." Poirot also cautions against attempting to travel on standby. "If you attempt to fly standby, you forfeit any seats you have confirmed and are subject to the availability of a flight," she says. When traveling with young children, it is best to confirm your seats to avoid being separated, she adds

Pack Strategically for the Holidays

As CEO of high-end luggage purveyor Briggs & Riley, Richard Krulik is an expert on all things packing. His top advice during the holidays is to avoid checking bags if possible. "Pick a carry-on bag that offers some extra packing room," he says. Also, familiarize yourself with TSA requirements and ensure you don't bring more than the allotted quart-size bag of liquids, gels and pastes under 3.4 ounces. "Either fill small travel bottles with your own products or buy the travel size at your local drugstore," he says.

[See: 7 Pro Carry-On Packing Hacks for Your Next Weekend Getaway.]

To ensure wrinkle-free clothes upon arrival, Krulik recommends three different packing methods. The Interweave Method is his favorite way to pack. "First, place the longest items, like dresses and pants, in the bottom of the suitcase, with the ends draping over the suitcase edges. Then, fill the suitcase with folded shirts and rolled items, before laying the draping garment edges over the top." The Rolling Method, he says, works for garments like sweaters, pajamas and jeans. "Secure the rolled items with a rubber band so they say in a roll," he says. If you want to pack by outfit, Krulik suggests bundling longer outfit items around the smaller ones.


8 Ways You're Annoying Passengers During the Holidays


Photo Gallery
Health problem on an airplane
Businessman checking damp armpit. Deodorant not working it seems!
Nuisance
Adult couple traveling in an airplane
Passengers boarding a plane
Jet Passenger Grips Armrest from Fear
Frustration
Meal in the airplane.
mature businessman putting luggage into overhead locker on airplane
|

Avoid agitating fellow fliers this travel season.
Forget about your occasional armrest hogs or fussy baby. These days, sitting next to seat kickers, intoxicated passengers and fliers with poor hygiene has become a new reality for travelers. And with the holidays just around the corner, a time when many of us will take to the friendly skies, dealing with irritating behaviors on top of already cramped cabins and steep airfare is enough to bring our rising frustrations to a boil. From trying to dodge the person's smelly feet next to you to tuning out the seat recliner in front of you, let's be honest: It's tough to avoid disturbances at 35,000 feet. But here's the silver lining: At least you can rest assured that you're not one of these headache-inducing fliers. Here are eight common ways people alienate fellow passengers, plus simple ways you can avoid being a frustrating or flat-out disrespectful seatmate this holiday.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Skipping a shower before your flight.
Bad hygiene is the leading frustration among 520 adults who flew the previous year, according to a recent Airline Pain Index study conducted by analytics company Qualtrics. In fact, 45 percent of participants reported poor hygiene as a top aggravator. To avoid irking everyone breathing the same recirculated cabin air, George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, cautions to not only take care of personal hygiene but also to avoid putting your foot on another person's armrest or doing any kind of personal in-flight grooming.
(Getty Images)

Kicking the person's seat in front of you.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 35 percent of fliers who participated in the Qualtrics study reported seat kickers as a top infuriating in-flight behavior. Expedia's 2015 Airplane Etiquette Study also found that 61 percent of the 1,019 participants rated rear-seat kicking as the most agitating trait among fellow fliers.
(Getty Images)

Indulging in one too many cocktails at high altitude.
Sitting next to an intoxicated passenger is a significant pain point among fliers. In fact, 35 percent of Qualtrics survey participants cited belligerent passengers as the leading culprit of bothersome behavior. And 45 percent of participants named intoxicated fliers the most offensive seatmate. Before you consider ordering numerous cocktails for a long-haul flight, keep in mind that altitude can elevate the effects of alcohol, Hobica says. While some experts contend that the lower level of oxygen in the air at high altitudes can trigger fatigue and impact cognitive ability (but that alcohol is not absorbed faster into the bloodstream), others suggest that the effects of alcohol on cognitive ability are elevated in the air.  
(Getty Images)

Being unwilling to switch seats with fellow fliers.
"It's interesting that passengers say they're not annoyed when asked to change seats with someone else," says Mike Maughan, head of brand growth and global insights at Qualtrics. In fact, the study revealed that nearly half of fliers are not inconvenienced by changing seats upon request. Maughan emphasizes general communication and common courtesy as key ways to uphold decent in-flight etiquette. And Hobica advises staying flexible and being willing to change seats not only to be polite to elderly passengers or parents who want to sit with their kids but also to prevent unnecessarily stalling your flight.
(Getty Images)

Insisting on hogging the armrest.
As a general courtesy, "the middle-seat person gets the armrest," Hobica says. Rather than elbowing your neighbor in a squished cabin, exercise manners and give the extra inches of space to the poor passenger stuck in the undesirable middle seat. He also advises staying conscientious of fellow fliers by respecting boundaries and not taking up extra space across the armrest. "Be courteous," Maughan says. And if extra space is most important to you, consider springing for a premium-economy seat for added legroom, he says. While there's not much you can do once you're up in the air aside from controlling your own environment with tools like noise-canceling headphones, Hobica advises communicating with fellow passengers and exercising kindness to de-escalate a situation versus fanning the flames. 
(Getty Images)

Acting rudely or aggressively toward flight attendants.
"Most people are doing their best. That goes for airline staff and passengers," Maughan says. To the extent that passengers can defuse a situation by treating their neighbors with dignity and respect, they can make for a more comfortable trip and avoid the risk of having to divert the plane, he says. "A few kind words can de-escalate a situation," he adds. Tim Winship, editor and publisher of FrequentFlier.com, says even if you're well-prepared, nothing is going to "make holiday flying a breeze. So relax. Expect travel to be stressful," he advises. "And hope that other travelers do the same."
(Getty Images)

Smuggling smelly food on to the plane.
Instead of settling into your seat with a greasy meal in tow, Hobica advises enjoying your food on the ground to prevent disrupting fellow fliers. In fact, 30 percent of respondents to Expedia's survey recorded "pungent foodies" as top etiquette offenders. Rather than disgusting your fellow fliers, skip bringing odorous meals or snacks in your carry-on. 
(Getty Images)

Overstuffing the overhead bin.
Rather than trying to cram a bulky suitcase into an overhead bin a few rows away from your seat, consider your fellow fliers and their needs, and whether you're encroaching on their limited space. Expedia found that 32 percent of participants consider "overhead bin inconsiderate" behavior to be among the worst flier characteristics. Many passengers get very irritated by limited cabin space, Maughan says. If plenty of overhead storage space is an important component of overall comfort, consider splurging for priority boarding, he advises. It's also critical to be mindful of others when boarding by not shuffling through your bag when you arrive at your row and stalling the passengers behind you or overcrowding the overhead bin with smaller carry-on items such as backpacks, which not only take up plenty of storage space but can also make overhead bins more difficult to close.
(Getty Images)

Health problem on an airplane
Businessman checking damp armpit. Deodorant not working it seems!
Nuisance
Adult couple traveling in an airplane
Passengers boarding a plane
Jet Passenger Grips Armrest from Fear
Frustration
Meal in the airplane.
mature businessman putting luggage into overhead locker on airplane

Avoid agitating fellow fliers this travel season.
Forget about your occasional armrest hogs or fussy baby. These days, sitting next to seat kickers, intoxicated passengers and fliers with poor hygiene has become a new reality for travelers. And with the holidays just around the corner, a time when many of us will take to the friendly skies, dealing with irritating behaviors on top of already cramped cabins and steep airfare is enough to bring our rising frustrations to a boil. From trying to dodge the person's smelly feet next to you to tuning out the seat recliner in front of you, let's be honest: It's tough to avoid disturbances at 35,000 feet. But here's the silver lining: At least you can rest assured that you're not one of these headache-inducing fliers. Here are eight common ways people alienate fellow passengers, plus simple ways you can avoid being a frustrating or flat-out disrespectful seatmate this holiday.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Skipping a shower before your flight.
Bad hygiene is the leading frustration among 520 adults who flew the previous year, according to a recent Airline Pain Index study conducted by analytics company Qualtrics. In fact, 45 percent of participants reported poor hygiene as a top aggravator. To avoid irking everyone breathing the same recirculated cabin air, George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, cautions to not only take care of personal hygiene but also to avoid putting your foot on another person's armrest or doing any kind of personal in-flight grooming.
(Getty Images)

Kicking the person's seat in front of you.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 35 percent of fliers who participated in the Qualtrics study reported seat kickers as a top infuriating in-flight behavior. Expedia's 2015 Airplane Etiquette Study also found that 61 percent of the 1,019 participants rated rear-seat kicking as the most agitating trait among fellow fliers.
(Getty Images)

Indulging in one too many cocktails at high altitude.
Sitting next to an intoxicated passenger is a significant pain point among fliers. In fact, 35 percent of Qualtrics survey participants cited belligerent passengers as the leading culprit of bothersome behavior. And 45 percent of participants named intoxicated fliers the most offensive seatmate. Before you consider ordering numerous cocktails for a long-haul flight, keep in mind that altitude can elevate the effects of alcohol, Hobica says. While some experts contend that the lower level of oxygen in the air at high altitudes can trigger fatigue and impact cognitive ability (but that alcohol is not absorbed faster into the bloodstream), others suggest that the effects of alcohol on cognitive ability are elevated in the air.  
(Getty Images)

Being unwilling to switch seats with fellow fliers.
"It's interesting that passengers say they're not annoyed when asked to change seats with someone else," says Mike Maughan, head of brand growth and global insights at Qualtrics. In fact, the study revealed that nearly half of fliers are not inconvenienced by changing seats upon request. Maughan emphasizes general communication and common courtesy as key ways to uphold decent in-flight etiquette. And Hobica advises staying flexible and being willing to change seats not only to be polite to elderly passengers or parents who want to sit with their kids but also to prevent unnecessarily stalling your flight.
(Getty Images)

Insisting on hogging the armrest.
As a general courtesy, "the middle-seat person gets the armrest," Hobica says. Rather than elbowing your neighbor in a squished cabin, exercise manners and give the extra inches of space to the poor passenger stuck in the undesirable middle seat. He also advises staying conscientious of fellow fliers by respecting boundaries and not taking up extra space across the armrest. "Be courteous," Maughan says. And if extra space is most important to you, consider springing for a premium-economy seat for added legroom, he says. While there's not much you can do once you're up in the air aside from controlling your own environment with tools like noise-canceling headphones, Hobica advises communicating with fellow passengers and exercising kindness to de-escalate a situation versus fanning the flames. 
(Getty Images)

Acting rudely or aggressively toward flight attendants.
"Most people are doing their best. That goes for airline staff and passengers," Maughan says. To the extent that passengers can defuse a situation by treating their neighbors with dignity and respect, they can make for a more comfortable trip and avoid the risk of having to divert the plane, he says. "A few kind words can de-escalate a situation," he adds. Tim Winship, editor and publisher of FrequentFlier.com, says even if you're well-prepared, nothing is going to "make holiday flying a breeze. So relax. Expect travel to be stressful," he advises. "And hope that other travelers do the same."
(Getty Images)

Smuggling smelly food on to the plane.
Instead of settling into your seat with a greasy meal in tow, Hobica advises enjoying your food on the ground to prevent disrupting fellow fliers. In fact, 30 percent of respondents to Expedia's survey recorded "pungent foodies" as top etiquette offenders. Rather than disgusting your fellow fliers, skip bringing odorous meals or snacks in your carry-on. 
(Getty Images)

Overstuffing the overhead bin.
Rather than trying to cram a bulky suitcase into an overhead bin a few rows away from your seat, consider your fellow fliers and their needs, and whether you're encroaching on their limited space. Expedia found that 32 percent of participants consider "overhead bin inconsiderate" behavior to be among the worst flier characteristics. Many passengers get very irritated by limited cabin space, Maughan says. If plenty of overhead storage space is an important component of overall comfort, consider splurging for priority boarding, he advises. It's also critical to be mindful of others when boarding by not shuffling through your bag when you arrive at your row and stalling the passengers behind you or overcrowding the overhead bin with smaller carry-on items such as backpacks, which not only take up plenty of storage space but can also make overhead bins more difficult to close.
(Getty Images)

×

Tags: travel, vacations, holidays


Ceil Bouchet has 20 years of experience sparking adventure and promoting understanding by covering destinations through the lens of culture, cuisine, wine, well-being and, well, dive bars, chocolate and mom-and-pop eateries. Bouchet has lived and worked in Paris, Shanghai, Turin and Bordeaux. Currently based in Chicago, she writes for the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic Traveler, Saveur and many others. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter to see what's up.

Recommended Articles

15 Scenic Train Rides

March 26, 2019

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

March 25, 2019

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

March 14, 2019

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

15 Adventures to Enjoy Across America

March 12, 2019

Plan an unforgettable trip in your own backyard or on the opposite coast.

The 30 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

March 11, 2019

Explore the globe in search of these intriguing historic sights.

30 Hot New Hotels to Check Out in 2019

Feb. 5, 2019

See which new properties offer surprising and fun features.

The 50 Best Hotels in the USA 2019

Feb. 5, 2019

U.S. News ranked 3,877 top properties for 2019. Check out the 50 best.

17 Amazing Kid-Friendly Hotels

Feb. 5, 2019

Discover which properties offer ample amenities for children.

New & Revamped Caribbean Hotels to Visit

Feb. 5, 2019

These island properties are sure to impress travelers.

10 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the USA

Feb. 5, 2019

Go all-in for these luxe resorts flush with amenities.