7 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Travel


The holidays are here. Do you know where your VIP lounge access pass is? To help you head into these next few weeks prepared to navigate the long TSA lines and crowded baggage claims, we’ve rounded up our top tips on how to make your holiday trip stress-free.

KAYAK’s Top Holiday Travel Tips

 1. Pack light.

Every trip starts with what you bring along for the ride. But if you’re packing style is more maximalist than minimalist, here’s a tip. First, pack everything you think you need. Go to bed. Wake up. Then, unpack and repack everything you actually need. Because the chance of needing two tank tops in Chicago this time of year is about 0 in 10. Plus, leave things you can easily buy at your destination, at home (think: toiletries and other necessities). If you can get away with just a carry on (or better yet, personal item), you’ll avoid the baggage claim entirely. If your air ticket comes with only a personal item (thanks, Basic Economy) and you’re wondering how much adding a carry on will cost, check out our Airline Fees page for details.

2. Give yourself extra time.

When the airports are crowded, the last thing you want to be is stuck in traffic with your flight departing in 30 minutes. Be sure to give yourself lots of wiggle room from the time you leave home to the time you need to be at the airport. We suggest giving yourself an extra hour of time at the airport (at least). Best case scenario: you make your flight on-time even though check-in and security took you hours. Worst case scenario: there’s no line and you spend the extra time checking out the latest bestsellers and stocking up on keychains before your flight. Bonus: if you’re wondering just how long the TSA line is, the KAYAK app can help. Open the app and track the status of your flight. It’ll bring you to a page that lets you know info like the terminal and gate as well as how long other travelers are saying they waited in line at your departure airport.

3. Get instant updates on your flight.

Ever been rushing through the airport to get to your connecting flight only to find out that the gate’s changed once you arrived? Avoid this and other in-transit hassles with our free personal travel assistant, KAYAK Trips. Trips lets you organize all your travel plans in one place. We’ll let you know if there’s a flight delay or gate change, so you can be confident you’re in the right place at the right time. By also downloading the free KAYAK app, you won’t even have to check your email — Trips can send you push notifications as plans change.

4. Access VIP Lounges, without the first class ticket.

Yeah, it’s possible. So instead of sitting on the floor, gulping down a lukewarm Americano, you can be sitting pretty on a lush sofa seat, with Wifi and a coffee bar at hand. And you can do it all… without flying first class. One option is to check your credit card policy (they may have an agreement that gives you access) or to sign up for a service like Priority Pass, which has a network of lounges you can use. We’ve broken down more ways to access the VIP room here.

5. Be merry. Just not too merry.

Meeting the 3oz requirement, it’s okay to pack a few nips in your liquids bag. Just go easy on the airport and in-flight cocktails. 30,000 feet + a low-grade buzz works okay, but once you pass the line into drunk territory you put your flight status (and the comfort of your fellow passengers) at risk.

6. Staying at a hotel? Ask for early check-in.

After a long day of traveling, there’s nothing better than collapsing on a cushy hotel comforter. However, if your check-in isn’t until 3pm and you’re arriving at 10am, that’s a lot of hours to wander aimlessly. The best thing you can do is call the hotel in advance and request an early check-in. If they have a room available, most hotels are more than happy to oblige.

7. Let the office know you’re AFKB (away from keyboard).

Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Tickets? Check. Out of office message? We can help with that. For total peace of mind this holiday, make sure your contacts know that you’ll be away. Our OOO Generator can filter to find you the perfect auto-reply that fits your mood. Answer a few quick questions and pick your vibe, and you’re well on your way to let everyone know their monthly accounting reports can wait for when you return (or need an excuse to avoid the inevitable small talk with your Aunt Fran).


No matter where you’re headed this season, we have the tools you need to be confident you’re prepared for your trip. Happy holidays, everyone.