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Stacey Leasca
November 21, 2017

The holidays are right around the corner, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to pack your bags.

In a poll by Airfarewatchdog, nearly half of respondents said they plan to fly this holiday season — a 53 percent increase from the site's 2016 poll, and double those who said they would in 2015.

Related: Here’s What Time You Should Leave to Avoid Thanksgiving Traffic in Your City

While 31 percent of respondents said they always fly on holidays, 15 percent said this will be their first time in several years to head to an airport during the busy holiday travel season. (Read: You're going to need to arrive extra early.)

“We aren’t surprised that there is a spike this season,” Nevin Spearman wrote on Airfarewatchdog. “We are seeing less people take to the roads to drive to their destinations, a 29-percent decrease compared to last year.”

The responses also suggest a steady decline in the number of people who believe flying is too expensive. “This sentiment can be attributed to the recent pricing competition amongst legacy and discount carriers that seem to have travelers feeling that even though holiday fares are more expensive, they’re attainable,” Spearman added.

While the mere thought of traveling over the holidays can feel stressful, it doesn’t have to be — as long as you’re prepared. Here are a few tips to make your travels this season merrier.

1. Get to the airport early.

We know it’s annoying to have to get to the airport hours in advance, but it really can make or break your holiday travel experience. This year, heed the TSA’s warning and arrive at least 90 minutes before your flight boards. That way, you’re safe if there are extra-long lines at check-in and security. Not arriving early could cost you during the holidays: It's unlikely you'll find an easy alternative if you miss your flight.

If you find yourself with a ton of extra time simply crack open a book and enjoy the quiet solitude before your family’s holiday madness begins. Here are a few books suggestions that will take your mind off any holiday stress.

2. Leave the leftovers behind.

If you plan to fly for Thanksgiving, note that the TSA will not allow you to board a plane with gravy, sauces, cranberry relish, maple syrup, or any dressings.

And never bring a wrapped gift. The TSA might open it to inspect it, meaning your beautiful wrapping job will go to waste.

3. Make sure your travel essentials are within reach at the airport.

When you’re at the airport make sure to travel like a true pro by always having your boarding pass out and available for security to see so you don’t have to rummage through your bags and hold up the line behind you. It’s crucial to organize your luggage before you head to the airport so you know where everything you could ever need is hiding.

4. Stay calm at any airport with the help of a good scent.

If you’re really finding yourself stressed out over your holiday travels try dropping in at one of the airport spas around the country. Or, simply pack your own aromatherapy for the ride.

5. Stay comfortable (and stylish) on your flight.

Traveling is stressful enough so there’s no need to make it worse by wearing uncomfortable clothing in the air. Instead, opt for a simple t-shirt, stretchy pants and a warm and comfortable jacket, sweater or sweatshirt. And make sure to wear kicks that are both comfy and practical so you’re not tempted to commit the ultimate travel faux pas and take them off mid-flight.

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