Traveling by plane during the holidays can be quite stressful. But it remains to be an integral part of the holiday season because a lot of individuals are willing to go great lengths, just to be with loved ones. Traveling during the holidays can sometimes mean longer waits, delays, cancellations, and other unexpected challenges.

In order to keep your sanity and to survive the chaos of traveling during this time, it is essential to plan way ahead. Planning ahead is a good way to ensure that you can still choose your preferred flight schedule, save on the cost of airfare, and even choose the flights with lesser connections. If possible, try to fly earlier to avoid bigger crowds in the airport.

It is very important to prepare as well the things that you will be taking with you. During this time, it may be good to pack light. Some people opt to shop online and have the gifts shipped to the destination. If you wish to keep the element of surprise, make sure that you place your gifts in gift bags, which can be easily opened. Some gifts may need to be checked by security personnel if they want to take a closer look.

Some people may even want to bring along favorite foods from home. It is then important to identify which items can be carried, and which items need to be either checked, or best left at home. Pies and cakes are generally allowed through security, but expect additional screening. Food items such as gravy, creamy dips, salad dressing, jellies, soups, maple syrup, cranberry sauce, salsa, sauces, alcoholic beverages, jams, and other beverages, need to be placed inside your checked baggage. If these items can be shipped, it may be best to do so because it is more convenient.

The Transportation Security Administration strictly implements the 3-1-1 rule for carry-ons. This means that only containers and bottles with a volume of 3 ounces or less are allowed for carry-ons. And these had to be placed in a 1 quart sized clear plastic zip bag. Only 1 bag is allowed per person, which means that any excess should be placed inside checked baggage. Baby formula and medications are allowed outside the zipped bag, for as long as these are in reasonable quantities. If in doubt, place it inside your checked baggage, or read the Transportation Security Administration’s list of prohibited items. The items that you can purchase after the checkpoint are allowed because these have already been screened.

It may also be wise if you read ahead the safety checks that will be done in the airports. It will help you prepare for what will eventually happen once you get there. If you are traveling with kids, it is important that you brief them as well regarding the process. Reading materials, handy toys, extra clothing, snack items, and other materials that may entertain your child should be in your carry-on, in case of a long wait at the airport. It is also necessary to charge your phone, in order to make sure that you can communicate with your loved ones in case of any delays.

Since a lot of people are expected to travel during the holidays, come earlier than usual. Longer lines and enhanced security checks, may take awhile so it is better to come early to avoid rushing. Also try to wear jackets, shoes, sweaters and coats that are easy to wear. This will prevent more delays at the security checks. Traveling during the holidays can be tiring, but if it will mean time spent celebrating with the rest of the family, then all efforts will definitely be worth it.