Many of us will hit the highway or air this week to head home for the holidays and you know what that means: Stressful travel.
"It's really hectic. People scrambling to get places — pushing and shoving because we're all trying to get to the same place," Grace Doyle, an airline passenger traveling through Tampa International Airport, said with a sigh.
"I hate it!" agreed passenger Bryan Webster. "Too many people!"
Luckily, we have some holiday travel "survival tips" and "must haves" to make your journey more peaceful.
The Best time to leave
One of the biggest complaints at the airport: flight delays.
Grace Doyle, an experienced flier, says delays are the worst, especially if you do not have something to do.
"Flights get delayed. You're expected to be home at a certain time, and it's like, 'Oh, never mind,' it's like five hours later," she said. "I hate sitting around."
To help avoid delays when you fly, try to get a flight as early in the day as you can. There's a snowball effect as the day goes on, with more flights experiencing longer delays throughout the afternoon. The worst time of all is about 6 p.m., and then, delays begin to taper off after that.
If you are driving, the best time to travel is when everyone else is sleeping. Try leaving late at night or early in the morning, and you'll avoid those clogged highways.
Traveler Amy Bronowicz recently hit the road in the wee hours of the morning and found it made her trip go a lot faster.
"I got up at like 3:30 in the morning to head out, and it was pretty cool," she said, "Because I got there very quickly. I avoided all the big trucks on the road."
If you are driving overnight, it's a good idea to be prepared to avoid getting too drowsy. Play upbeat music and have caffeinated beverages and minty gum on hand to help keep you awake.
The must haves
Traveling by air also requires a few important essentials like water to stay hydrated. The re-circulated air on planes dehydrates you, which can cause headaches.
And speaking of headaches, another "must have" for many is noise canceling headphones, something airline passenger Aneil Naik says he tries to never fly without.
"It really does put me in my own little world," he said. "So even if I am stuck in the middle seat, I can close my eyes and listen to my music and be fine."
Another tip, don't pack wrapped gifts or your efforts could be wasted if security wants to inspect them.
Useful travel apps
Whether you are flying or driving, travel apps can help make your life a lot easier, and there are plenty to check out.
For example, if you’re flying, try GateGuru, which is free. It gives you estimates on security wait times and reviews on airport shops and restaurants.
If you are hitting the road, a good one to try is GasBuddy, which is also free. It helps you find the cheapest gas station near where you are.
The best advice is to plan ahead and leave plenty of time. You might not be able to avoid all the mayhem, but you’ll make it easier to deal with any delays or problems you encounter.