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The holidays are rapidly approaching, which means the craziness of holiday travel will be here before we know it. To be honest, I used to get a headache and a flash of anxiety just hearing the words “holiday travel.” But, with how often I’ve traveled in the last decade, I’ve come to learn some tried-and-true tips and tricks that have really changed traveling altogether for me. Having these expert tips under your belt will help give your travel plan an effortless dose of hustle, without the bustle…

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1. Beat the lines.

If I could only share one travel tip today, it would be this: apply for TSA Pre-Check. Having that pre-check stamp on your boarding is like gold when traveling… Trust me. You get to breeze pass the massive security lines and you don’t have to remove your shoes or your laptop before walking through the metal detectors, all of which can make all the difference in the world if you’re running late to get on a flight you think you might miss. I promise you that it will be one of the best travel decisions you’ll ever make. You can find out more about how to get approved for TSA Pre-Check by clicking here, but it basically requires an easy online application and a short trip to your local airport.

2. Opt for a mobile boarding pass.

The thought of shuffling around in my bags for my printed-out boarding pass makes me stressed just thinking about it. Not to mention, it can cost you precious time if you misplace said paper boarding pass. For this very reason, I’ve switched to using only mobile boarding passes, especially during the holidays. We all pretty much have our phones in our hand 24/7, so going mobile makes it easy to just pull it up and flash it when necessary.

3. Carry on as often as possible.

It’s not a mystery why going through the hassle of baggage check can be a huge time suck during your travel day. Not to mention that the process of searching for your suitcase on the carousel at baggage claim upon arrival can be equated to a very frustrating game of ‘I spy.’ So, if you’re going on a shorter trip to a destination that allows you to pack light this holiday season, carrying on is the way to go. Of course if you’re traveling somewhere for a longer period of time or if the weather where you’re heading requires bulky clothes and boots, checking bags might be unavoidable. But if you can pack smart and light by planning each of your outfits and bringing only what you need, you will be so grateful when you walk off the plane with your suitcase in hand.

4. BYO-snacks.

We’ve all been there—you’re rushing through traffic to make your flight with a growling stomach, and you don’t have time to grab that bite you thought you’d be able to carry on the plane. You end up eating bag after bag of pretzels and peanuts, which just leave you feeling unsatisfied and bloated. Bringing easy-to-pack baggies of trail mix, dried fruit, or healthy granola bars with you can make all the difference between landing happy or hangry. I like to bring a sliced up apple in a baggie with Justin’s Almond Butter packets, a healthy trail mix, or a healthy granola bar. But click here for more healthy snack options, and just make sure yours is TSA security-approved.

5. Make an in-flight game plan.

That means being as comfortable as possible. Whether that means you’re wearing layers you can strip off or layer on depending on the temperature, or bringing a neck pillow, it’s good to prepare depending on the flight you’re taking. It’s also a good idea to have a game plan of how you will spend the duration of your flight before you get to the airport. Sure, it’s easy to grab a book on the go when you’re walking to your gate, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been delayed and had to race through the airport, only to sit down in my seat and realize I am without a magazine, book or laptop to keep myself busy during the flight (and let me tell you, in-flight boredom can be tough.) It could be as simple as planning to get some shut-eye, but going into your flight with a game plan for how you will spend your time in the air will make it go by much faster.

Well, ladies, I hope this helps to expedite your days of holiday travel and make getting to your destination as easy as possible. These are the five tips I rely on each time I go to the airport, but I’m sure you all have some helpful suggestions of your own too…

What tips do you have for making holiday travel as easy as possible?

Let me know in the comments below!

XO Lauren

Photos: Stephanie Todaro for LaurenConrad.com
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