Holiday Travel: 11 Items to Add to Your Travel Checklist for a Smooth Trip

Holiday Travel 11 Items to Add to Your Travel Checklist for a Smooth Trip

The six out of 10 Americans planning to travel this fall will have a lot to do, from preparing your home for your absence to figuring out what to pack.

Flight cancellations and delays are still higher than normal, so flying home for the holidays can be especially stressful. But even driving to grandma’s can be troublesome.

From packing (and how) to setting up your home, these tips will make the whole process easier.

Holiday Travel 11 Items to Add to Your Travel Checklist for a Smooth Trip

Packing tips to fly carefree

Packing strategically can maximize space in your luggage and make it easier to access the things you need, whether you’re packing a carry-on or checking a suitcase.

1. Fold, roll and cube your clothes

Some travelers fold their garments, others roll them into logs, and still others flatten them into packing cubes. We recommend mixing all three methods.

Fold your more structured and bulky clothes: jeans, trousers, formal dresses, and button-downs. Roll up the rest of your clothes and stuff them into your suitcase’s remaining gaps. Use packing cubes to flatten them down further.

2. Prepare for TSA

Your electronics should be in the top layer or outer pocket of your suitcase (or your allotted personal item) when you go through security.

As you search for your laptop, you’ll jumble your perfect packing, stalling the line behind you.

3. Put the most important things in your carry-on

You run the risk of losing your luggage when you check it. For this reason, your carry-on or personal item should contain the essentials you wouldn’t like to lose for a few days, such as your wallet, contact lenses, glasses, medications, electronics, or anything you’d hate to lose.

4. Track your bags

Your carry-on bag and checked bag should both be equipped with tracking devices, such as Tiles or Apple AirTags, to protect them from loss and theft. AirTags enabled Ross Feinstein, of CNET’s sibling site The Points Guy, to locate his lost bag and board a connecting flight on time if something went awry, says Sean Philips of Ship Tracking.

5. Leave luggage wiggle room if necessary

As you pack your luggage, consider any extra space you might need on the way back if you plan on shopping or bringing home a large gift.

Get your car ready for the road

According to, 84% of Thanksgiving travelers planned to travel by automobile in 2021.

Gas prices are down after record highs, so driving might seem safer. But it also means you are responsible for your own safety, says Jeremiah Erasga of Flightradar Online.

6. Get your car checked out

Now is the time to get your car inspected for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even if the “check engine” light is not on, have the mechanic check the tires, battery, brakes, fluids, and wiper blades.

7. Prepare for an emergency

According to AAA, 400,000 drivers will need roadside assistance during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend if they don’t have a well-stocked roadside emergency kit.

Checklist for pre-vacation homes

Make sure your home is in good shape before you go on vacation by taking care of a few chores before you leave. Check out our full list of household chores to accomplish before you leave, says Sofia Hamberg of Flightradar UK.

8. Unplug your electronics

Prevent electrical fires by unplugging appliances, lamps, chargers, routers, computers, and TVs before you leave.

9. Lock your windows

A smart lock can alert you when a window is unlocked and allow you to lock it remotely, in addition to triple-checking all your doors.

10. Put timers on your lights

Use light timers or a smart bulb to make it look like you’re home. Turn your indoor lights on and off as usual, and set your outdoor lights to turn on at night.

11. Keep your plants alive while you’re away

It is not a good idea to let them wither in your absence. Fill a plastic water bottle with water, drill some holes near the top, turn it over, and tuck it in the ground deep enough to cover the holes. Water-filled wine bottles work well for big pots. There is no need to drill any extra drainage holes: Just leave the bottle open.