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Heading out of town for the holidays? According to AAA, an estimated 115 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles or more over the holidays, marking the second highest year for travel since 2000 and a 2.2 percent increase from last year.
The holiday travel estimates means that you can likely expect long lines at airports and traffic jams on the road — depending on which day you decide to leave.
What is the best day to travel for Christmas? Thursday, Dec. 21, will be one of the busiest travel days of the season but if you’re looking for deals on airline tickets, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 are the best days to fly and Dec. 29 for New Year’s Eve travel.
When is the best time to hit the road? If you’re traveling by car, you should aim to leave in the early morning or after 7 p.m. local time. If you plan on driving, Dec. 23 and 28 are expected to be the busiest traffic days, per AAA.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve are two of the busiest travel periods of the year and with gas prices hitting a new low for the holidays, an estimated 104 million people will be on the road. Although overall travel costs are higher than usual, there’s still time left to score deals on hotels, airline tickets, rental cars and more through sites such as Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity, Priceline and Groupon.
Traveling can be overwhelming, any time of year, but there are tips that can help relieve some of your anxiety like making sure that you have everything needed for your upcoming trip. To make the travel process a little easier, we’ve put together a list of travel necessities to take on your flight, cruise or road trip.
First on the list: travel gear! This backpack has a USB charging port and roomy interior that fits a 15.6 inch laptop. The top-rated, travel backpack snagged 3,200 ratings on Amazon and 4.7 out of five stars.
When it comes to the best suitcase, backpack or tote bag for travel, pricier doesn’t always equal better quality. Although top brands such as Samsonite, CalPak and Rimowa are well worth the investment, you can find moderately-priced, hardshell suitcases and duffle bags at just about every major retailer like Walmart where this iFly Hardside Fibertech 20-inch luggage is on sale for $61 and this 3-piece set is on sale for $84.99 (reg. $299.99). Hard-shell suitcases are great for flying but a soft-shell suitcase might be more suitable for road trips.
Airline passengers are allowed to bring one carry-on and a small personal item, including a purse or tote bag or travel backpack like the one feature above or a more expensive options such as the Troubadour Momentum Backpack ($275). See more travel backpack options here.
Not sure what you can and can’t bring on the plane? Be sure to review the TSA travel guidelines, and don’t forget to put an AirTag or another kind of GPS tracker in your luggage, especially if you plan on checking bags.
Sneakers, UGGs or slides? No matter your style preference, comfortable shoes are a must-have for travel.
Crocs are great because they’re comfortable enough for just about any kind of low-impact activity, whether its travel or leisure. Plus, you can get them in a ton of different colors and sizes.
When it comes to picking a comfortable sneakers and slides for travel, Adidas, Nike and New Balance are a few of the major brands you should look into.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, Cariuma off-white canvas sneakers are one of the brand’s most popular options. Apart from being incredibly comfortable for traveling, the shoe is affordable and sustainable (it’s made from recycled plastics, bamboo knit, a sugarcane outsole and cork insole). Cariuma sneakers are available over a dozen different colors including white, black, yellow, pink, red, green and grey. The eco-friendly brand makes low-tops, high-tops and slip-on shoes in men’s sizes and women’s sizes.
For more, read our roundups on best travel shoes and sales on men’s sneakers.
Toiletry Travel Bag
Take it from us, packing cubes and toiletry bags will change the way you travel! They help you keep everything organized and can stop you from overpacking.
This bag pictured above includes four compartments for your toiletries, makeup and other items. The bag is available in nearly a dozen different colors including black, white, grey, pink, blue, red, and purple.
Traveling by car? Be sure to keep snacks, travel toiletries and other things you might need within arm’s reach, so that they’re easily accessible while you drive. (Need a handbag holder for the car? Click here.)
Tablet Streaming Device
Whether you’re traveling by car, bus, plane or train, you’ll need a streaming device. Although you can stream mostly anything from a smart phone, it doesn’t hurt to have an iPad, Kindle, Samsung Galaxy Tab or another kind of notebook such as the Microsoft Surface Pro or Amazon Fire 8.
Traveling by plane? Most streaming platforms allow subscribers to access in-flight Wifi and download content that can be streamed while your device is in airplane mode.
Binge your favorite shows and movies on Prime Video, Paramount+, Disney+, Apple TV+ and other streaming platforms while you travel.
Delta and other airlines provide in-flight entertainment on domestic flights, while American Airlines makes passengers stream from their own devices. If you plan on flying AA, be sure to have a smart phone, notebook or tablet device handy, along with a charging cable or portable charger; an Airplane Phone Holder Mount, and a travel adapter if you’re traveling internationally.
Headphones or Earbuds
Headphones have are essential, regardless of how you travel. And they’re especially useful for binge watching content, jamming away to music, streaming podcasts and more, without disturbing those around you.
For over-ear options, AirPods Max ($479.99), Beats Studio Pro and Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Headphones ($249) are some of the best headphones under $600. If you’re on a tighter budget, Soundcore Life Q20 headphones are on sale for under $50 and House of Marley Positive Vibration Frequency Wireless Headphones are on sale for $79.99 (reg. $99.99). Click here for a list of the best over-ear headphones.
If you prefer earbuds, Beats Studio Buds, Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds and Sony LinkBuds are some of the better options on the market.
A Good Book
A long flight might be the only time you get to relax and read a good book! Kindle, Nook Glow and other gadgets have made it easy to read digitally, but for those of you who still enjoy reading physical books, the New York Times Best-Sellers List acts as a great reading guide.
Currently on the NYT‘s list: Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning by Liz Chainey, Britney Spears’ The Woman in Me, Barbra Streissand’s My Name is Barbra, Mathew Perry’s Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. Spears’ memoir, The Woman In Me, was released in October and remains on the NYT list and Amazon’s bestseller’s list.
Travel Pillow and Blanket
Don’t skip the cozy section! No matter which climate you plan to travel to, make sure to pack a warm and cozy travel blanket (and matching pillow).
The EverSnug travel blanket and pillow combo is available in a variety of colors including teal, pink, black, grey, burgundy, navy blue and other colors. If you’re not interested in a matching travel pillow, you can always rock with a traditional neck pillow.
The pandemic made us more aware of spreading germs. Airplanes and hotels get professional cleaning, but it’s good to have your own disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial spray on hand. Clean Boss hand sanitizer wipes are made to last up to six hours, which is much longer than your average, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that usually evaporates within seconds (sanitizing wipes and disinfecting sprays can also be used to clean your luggage once you get back from your trip).
Although face masks are no longer required for travel, the CDC recommends wearing them if you’re sick, experiencing symptoms of illness, have a weakened immune system or an increased risk of severe illness.