With millions of people traveling this holiday season, it can be easy to be overwhelmed at the thought of navigating unfamiliar cities to reach your loved ones. Already out of your element, even the smallest issue can become a big problem. The best way to avoid stress and enjoy your journey as much as possible is to plan ahead as much as possible. You can’t predict everything that can befall your journey, but you can take steps to ensure that you’re as prepared as you can be.

If You’re Flying

Give yourself ample time to get through security at the airport. Even if you’re a frequent flyer and know exactly what you’re doing, remember that many of the other people you’re there with can be inexperienced flyers or total rookies. They will be the ones who don’t have their IDs ready, who forget to take all their loose change out of their pockets, and who take forever to get everything back together once through the scanners. Not to mention, the bag they’re sure should fit in the overhead compartment might be nowhere close. All that to say, give yourself at least an hour more than you normally would, to ensure you have plenty of time to make your flight.


If You’re Driving

Plan ahead to know the route you will take. Consider any large cities along the way, and be familiar with alternate routes in case of an accident on the interstate. Also, be aware of changing weather conditions, especially if you’re headed north. The last thing you want to do is get caught in an unexpected snowstorm and not know what to do. Check weather forecasts ahead of time, or keep an eye on the local weather with your smartphone.

In addition, have an emergency kit packed to include jumper cables, emergency blankets, snacks, a first aid kit, roadside flares, and additional motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant. Another good idea is to have an air compressor that operates from your auxiliary power outlet, in case you start to lose air pressure in your tires. It’s good to be able to take care of as much vehicle maintenance as possible on your own, as roadside assistance and mechanic shops could be totally closed or severely delayed, given the influx of new people in a given city.

Above all, pack your patience. Realize that, at any given time, there are probably hundreds of other travelers around you who have the same simple mission: to get home for the holidays. Appreciate any shared misery as a chance to make friends with strangers, and when you do finally arrive, soak up every moment you have with those you love.