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Travel Tips

How to Make Holiday Travel Suck Less

We know we're supposed to spread cheer and be merry, but that can get mighty difficult when facing plane delays, a Grinch-y grandpa and freak snowstorms. Read our travel survival guide to ensure that all stays calm and bright.

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Get paid to drive to your family’s house ⎯ and become one of Santa’s elves in the process.

The new iPhone and Android app Roadie lets you become a courier of sorts: tell it where you’re going, and it’ll let you know if there are people who need goods sent from point A to point B along your route. Each "gig" pays out according to mileage and size, and the app will make you an offer before you commit.

If you’re flying, pack your gifts in bags, not wrapping paper.

The TSA will allow wrapped gifts through an x-ray machine, but retains the right to inspect or unwrap them if anything looks fishy. The simple solution: make your gift wrap easy to put together and take apart, just in case.

Get TSA PreCheck

Or better yet, get Global Entry if you’re a frequent international flier ⎯ it’s only $15 more for expanded benefits. Either way, make sure you add your known traveler number when you’re booking your flight to ensure that you end up in the expedited security lanes whenever possible.

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Buy access to the airport lounge

If you’re used to flying over the holidays, you know how crowded an airport terminal can get on peak days. Beat the madness by going the VIP route: even if you’re not paying for a business class ticket, you can usually buy your way into a lounge for as little as $25 or $50. And in some cases they pay for themselves, between the cost of Wi-Fi, drinks, and food. Locate the best options with the help of the Loungebuddy, which tells you where to find lounges in your terminal and the amenities on offer.

Find out if your flight has Wi-Fi (or power outlets).

Sites like Routehappy and SeatGuru will give you the full breakdown on your specific flight’s amenities, so you can choose the best seat and arm yourself with the right amount of offline entertainment.

Order in a massage

Who doesn’t crave a massage over the holidays? Apps like Soothe and Zeel will knock on your door with a table in tow. Have your therapist set it up in the most peaceful spot of your house and the next 60 or 90 minutes should be the best of your entire vacation (presents included).

Or try some in-house meditation, instead

Since virtually everything is on-demand these days, you can swap that Swedish massage for a one-on-one yoga, pilates, or personal trainers in your backyard. For that, there’s Namaste, an app serving seven metropolitan markets from coast to coast. And if breaking a sweat is an excuse to leave a tense household, there’s always Classpass, which offers access to boutique gyms in more than 30 cities around the globe.

RELATED: Pay Your Taxes or Lose Your Passport

Pack your own coffee

It’s the little things that count, and this kit by Blue Bottle can be a lifesaver when you’re waking up to family, family, and more family. It means you can (literally) brew a cup or two without leaving your room for the kitchen.

Get a last-minute table at a buzzy restaurant ⎯ even on New Year’s Eve

Reserve, a concierge-like app that will squeeze you into trendy restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., just launched a platform for notoriously difficult-to-score New Year’s reservations, and you’ll only have to pay a $5 premium.

Start thinking about your next year in travel

Now’s the time to make resolutions ⎯ but they don’t need to be about diet and exercise. Resolve to check something off your bucket list, and do it all without breaking the bank. Planning ahead will make you well positioned to snag a great deal, and having a big trip on the horizon has been shown to make you a happier person. We buy it.

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