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Tips to Take the Edge Off Holiday Travel

Some simple steps can make your trip less stressful.

ByABC News
December 15, 2007, 5:38 PM

Dec. 15, 2007 -- The good news is you're going somewhere for the holidays. The bad news is you have to get there.

Family relationships, shopping, overexertion and fatigue all tend to complicate the holiday season. Add to that crowded airports and packed flights and the holiday period can start to seem like one of high stress instead of merriment.

During the three-week Christmas season, which stretches from Dec. 13 to Jan. 2, 47 million people are expected to fly. The crowds can be bad enough, and when combined with the often blustery winter weather they can wreak havoc on airports -- and on your psyche.

Passengers need to be ready for anything.

"I think the biggest mistake travelers make is not being prepared and not really anticipating all of the things that could possibly go wrong," warns Amy Ziff, editor at large of Travelocity.

Here are some tips to help diminish the stress of airplane travel, ensuring you arrive at your destination still in the Christmas spirit.

Send your luggage ahead.

Of the 26 million bags that will be checked at airports this holiday season, tens of thousands will be lost or delayed. To ensure that you arrive at your holiday party in the outfit you had planned, send your luggage ahead of you.

Services like Luggage Free, First Luggage, and Carry My Luggage provide door-to-door service, picking up your bags at your home and sending them anywhere in the world.

These services are pricy -- Jenn Enloe, a Luggage Free customer, paid $300 to send her bags ahead to Europe -- but says it was worth it.

"It just makes life so much easier," she said. "It takes a lot of the stress out of travel."

Many of these services can even be arranged at the last minute -- up to two hours before pick up -- but it's cheaper to allow more days for delivery.

Reserve a parking spot.

Avoid the headache that accompanies trying to find a place to park when you are already running late. Reserve a spot near the airport ahead of time using online services such as AirportParkingReservations.com or ParkRideFlyUSA.com.