Trains, planes, and automobiles are all packed during the holiday season.

This year, 115.6 million travelers are expected to break holiday records from Saturday, December 21 through Wednesday, January 1. 

From packed flights with the whole family to quick rides over the river and through the woods, travel can be stressful and frustrating. Don’t let a delayed flight or popped tire ruin your holidays this year.

Follow these 11 tips to arrive safely and happily.  

  1. Get your car checked now. Don’t put off car maintenance like replacing a battery, adding snow tires, or fixing a cracked windshield if you know it needs to get done. You’re better off fixing these problems now than facing a worse breakdown in the cold.
  2. Get ready to leave early. Pack as much as you can the night before. Put gas in the car. You have a better chance of staying on schedule if you’re ready to leave as soon as you wake up.
  3. Be a patient driver. More people on the roads, coupled with winter weather, lead to unsafe driving conditions. Put aside your road rage and understand that everyone wants to reach their destination safely. Plus, your travel memories will be better if everyone in the car doesn’t remember you yelling at other people on the road.
  4. Call your insurance company. If you’re planning to rent a car, don't get to the counter and then try to decide if you need rental car insurance or not. Call your insurance provider and find out beforehand. You can save a little money on your trip and use that money on fun activities.
  5. Give yourself extra time to arrive. Instead of flying in on Christmas Eve or arriving a few hours before the turkey is served, pad extra time for delays, cancellations, and other problems. This way if something goes wrong, you’re not spending your holidays eating Cinnabon at the airport.
  6. Look for nonstop flights. Paying a little extra is often worth the direct flight. You won’t have to stress over navigating a different airport to make your connection and there’s no risk of your connection getting canceled and leaving you stranded in a strange city.
  7. Download travel apps to track your reservations. Delta and American Airlines have strong apps that send alerts about gate changes, baggage locations, and departure times. Other travel apps like TripIt make it easy to keep all of your plans in one place. Use these tools to make sure your flights are on time and that all your travel documents are in one place.
  8. Leave extra room in your checked luggage and carry-on bags. Overstuffed bags are harder to repack if security needs to open them and repacking could slow you down. Plus, leaving space gives you room to bring back gifts or souvenirs.
  9. Do not wrap gifts that you are bringing on a plane. Your efforts could go to waste if the TSA unwraps them to check the items inside. Instead, pick up a tube of wrapping paper when you arrive.  
  10. Be respectful to airport employees and customer service people. They are spending their holidays away from their families so you can see yours. Be polite to them and they will be nice back.
  11. Look for things to do before you arrive. Don't get to your destination and then look for things to do or see around the city. Use MyArea Network city guides to plan your visit before you arrive so you don't miss out on any of the great stuff the city has to offer.

There will always be travel problems that are out of your control. However, you can follow these tips to minimize the likelihood of something going wrong. Once you arrive safely, focus on celebrating the holidays and enjoy spending them with friends and family.

Traveling to Tampa this year? Check out our Tampa Christmas Guide or New Year's Eve events in Tampa listing to find out the best events and things to do. Best of all? It's free!