Holiday Travel 2Thanksgiving Eve is notorious for being the ‘worst travel day of the year’, and with severe storms threatening the Northeast through the brunt of this year’s Black Wednesday, travel itineraries are sure to get messy.

Holiday travel is never stress-free — with unpredictable weather and traffic gridlocks. Use these tips, and you may just defy Murphy’s Law — and hold on to whatever’s left of your sanity in the process.

Stay Connected

Stock up on the latest travel apps (and learn how to navigate them) the night before you fly. Flight Status gives real-time updates on things like delays and baggage numbers while Gate Guru has useful information like approximate security wait times.

Pack Light

If you can, avoid checking in bags altogether. While it may be difficult when traveling as a family, the chance of losing Grandma’s present or a week’s worth of clothes will decrease significantly, and the less you’re lugging around through a crowded airport, the less stressed you’ll feel.  Furthermore, consider ordering presents online and shipping them to your destination.

Check in early

Be sure to check in to your flight within 24 hours of departure ( Southwest Airlines determines boarding order based on the time you check in) and reconfirm your flights before your leave for the airport. Print boarding passes as soon as you can, but remember that gates change all the time. Check the monitors often and pay attention to announcements!

Be TSA ready

You know the horror you experience when you first see an impossibly long security line? Don’t contribute to the madness. Have your boarding pass and ID in hand, remove your laptop of its carrying case, take off your shoes, display toiletries in a clear bag…

Most importantly: allow plenty of time for security so you’re not stressed about making your flight. And have patience – as much as you can.

Bring earplugs

The hustle and bustle of the airport during the holidays is inescapable, and not all airports have taken San Francisco’s lead and added a yoga studio to re-center. Bring earplugs (or noise-cancelling headphones) and you won’t be subjected to that crying baby or jet engines the entire flight.

Don’t go hungry

An empty stomach will limit your ability to think straight and will probably leave you cranky at the most inconvenient time (even see those ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ Snickers commericals?). Plus, airport food is notoriously as expensive as it is unhealthy. Pack some healthful snacks (and empty water bottles) to help keep your family fueled without unnecessary overspending.