Smart Tips to Take the Stress Out of Holiday Travel:

The holiday season is notoriously one of the  most heavily traveled times of the year, with millions of Americans traveling to friends, relatives, or warmer weather. So how do you maneuver long lines, flight delays, and bumper-to-bumper traffic? From packing to the actual journey, we have expert tips on smart holiday travel, whether you're flying or driving.

Before You Go

Smart travel starts before you even leave the house. If you're traveling with kids, whether you're flying or driving, some extra planning can go a long way. Make sure to pack plenty of games, movies, and music to keep children entertained for the long travel hours. Even though there might be snacks on the plane or fast food stops on the way, a hungry kid is a grumpy one. "It's always good to have snacks on-the-go​," says Michelle Agnew​ Southwest Airlines spokesperson.

As you're packing, throw a few dryer sheets into your bag. They'll help keep your clothing smelling fresh, even after a long flight. Got a lot of stuff? Roll your clothes or cram them into Ziploc bags to save some serious space. If you decide to fold, stick tissue paper between any fancy formal wear to help keep wrinkles at bay. When packing liquids, place a piece of plastic wrap between the top and body of a lotion or shampoo container to prevent spills. For jewelry, string chain necklaces and bracelets through a straw so they don't end up in a big, tangled knot. If you're responsible for bringing the wine, secure a bottle inside a pair of shoes to keep it safe during the bumps and tumbles of the trip. Flying? Make sure you know which items you can and can't bring in your carry-on.

Before heading out the door, turn down the heat if you live in a cold environment to help save on your heating bill. You may also want to make sure a friend or neighbor has a spare key in case of an emergency.

Driving

So you're piling into the car and hitting the road to get to your holiday destination. Unfortunately, so are 91 percent of other holiday travelers. The biggest travel tip? Travel very early or very late at night because the best way to beat traffic is to hit the road while everyone else is asleep, according to the Travel Channel.

Plus, road trips aren't always all they're cracked up to be. Especially if you're planning to cover the average long-distance trip of 275 miles. To power through, stick to the two-digit interstates, which are usually the most direct routes through cities. Don't be afraid to skip fast food and hit the grocery store instead. Listen to your favorite radio station, take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs, and most importantly, pull off the road when you get sleepy.

Flying

Every year, millions fly to meet family and friends to celebrate the holidays. Unfortunately, the weather doesn't always cooperate. That means crowded airports, flight delays, and security lines for what seems like miles. Luckily, there are a few sneaky tricks to get through airport faster.

Start by checking in ahead of time to help streamline the process. Reading up on baggage weight restrictions can prevent extra fees at the airport. If you're bringing gifts, don't wrap them. TSA may want to see what is in there.

Always arrive early on heavy travel days by at least two hours, says Agnew​. This is especially important if you're flying out of one of the busiest airports. Some  airports experience average delays or cancellations on 20 percent of their holiday flights. The worst offenders are Newark Liberty International, San Francisco International, LaGuardia, Chicago O'Hare International, and John F. Kennedy International.

Headed to security? If you're traveling with little ones, take them out of the stroller while you're waiting in line and get ready to send it through the metal detector. Look for the shortest line and, when at a loss, veer left. Most people tend to move right or toward the center so lines on the left are often shorter.

Courtesy of realsimple.com