Ugh. That time of year again. You’ve already survived the drive for Thanksgiving, but now it’s time to start thinking about travel again. Sometimes it’s a toss up whether flying or driving is more aggravating.

Either way, a little preparation and organization can help make things a little bit easier. Try these top travel tips from our organizing team:

  1. Plan what you need. Overpacking is often the result of uncertainty. To avoid this, figure out your activities for each day of your trip, and check the weather forecast. Sometimes, it helps to plan this out on a piece of paper so you can “see” your trip and visualize what clothes you need each day. Knowing whether you’ll be out to a nice dinner or going for a winter mountain hike will make a huge difference in what you pack.
  2. Pack in advance. Sure, you’ve heard this before. Have you actually tried it? Packing in a rush the night before or the day you leave often leads to forgotten items. While you can buy more clothes, a toothbrush or whatever else you have forgotten, you’ll be less stressed and less inconvenienced at your destination if you have everything you need.
    Tip: Packing lists are a useful tool for remembering to pack it all.
  3. Plan for gifts.
    Driving: How will they be packed? Consider putting all the gifts in a separate box or piece of luggage, perhaps with newspaper or packing peanuts if gifts contain fragile items.
    Flying: Ship gifts ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about baggage handlers mistreating your presents.
  4. Plan your route.
    Driving: What time will you leave? Can you leave earlier or later if that’s the same time everyone else is leaving? For example, Christmas Day is on a Thursday, which means heavy traffic Wednesday. If you can leave Monday, there will be fewer cars on the road. Don’t forget to prepare for toll roads. Charge your phone in advance or pack your car charger in case you need to use GPS directions.
    Flying: Take advantage of online check in 24 hours before the flight. Arrive at the airport even earlier than usual so you can get through the extra-long security line. Also, plan your flying outfit for comfort, temperatures at your destination and ease of getting through the security line (e.g. no belt).