Bumper-to-bumper standstills on the 405. Screaming children at Terminal 7. Vaguely green chicken tetrazzini on your red-eye to Milwaukee. Holiday travel is the worst, guys.

But while some things will always be a hassle (wait, why is there traffic at 5 a.m.?), there often is a better way.

Here, seven essential travel hacks that’ll help you get to where you’re going, all in one piece.

Book Your Ticket on Incognito

By which we mean an incognito browser. See, many airline and travel websites use cookies to track how many times you’ve visited and then alter their prices accordingly (meaning, they jack ’em up). To make sure you’re getting the best deal, use Google Chrome Incognito. In the top right corner of your browser window, click on the drop-down menu and select “New Incognito Window.” A new window will open automatically and you’ll be safe to book your tickets with no preconceived pricing.

Don’t Get Stuck in a No-Window Seat

Sure, every airline lets you pick your seat upon checkout. But SeatGuru takes it a step further. Before you book, type in your airline and flight number and see the layout of the exact plane you’ll be flying on. Here, you can scope out your ideal seating situation based on legroom, under-seat storage and how close you are to the lavatory. You can also find out if the plane has Wi-Fi and what kind of food will be served.

Breeze Through Security (And Email)

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for TSA PreCheck ($85 for five years), which will expedite you through security in more than 150 U.S. airports. Want the same speedy access to Wi-Fi? A Boingo subscription (from $5 a month) keeps you online at more than 30 domestic airports (and more than 1 million hot spots around the globe).

Take Your Skin-Care Routine to Go


Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to use the teeny, tiny bar of hotel soap (the quickest route to dryness, as far as we’re concerned). Instead, take Clinique’s new Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush with you wherever you’re headed. Th​e detachable head makes it easy to stash in your cosmetics bag, and you can even pick up a set of travel-sized products to go along with it. Look how put-together you are.

Wrap Wisely

Did you know the TSA has the authority to open gift-wrapped packages, even ones in your checked luggage (eye roll)? In other words, do not travel with wrapped presents. Instead, either ship your gifts to your destination or pack them up unwrapped and prettify upon arrival.

Discover the Key to Endless Battery Life

It’s inevitable: Everyone in the whole darn airport will be looking for charging stations. Fortunately, those big TVs that are at just about every gate have USB ports on the back. All you have to do is sneakily plug your phone into one (assuming it’s not too high on the wall).

Bring Yourself Some Libations

The screaming baby in row 6? You’re gonna need a drink. The $14 glass of wine? What are you, a millionaire? Enter Carry-On Cocktail Kit. Available in either Moscow Mule or Old Fashioned, this adorable little kit comes with a mini bottle of booze, the perfect mix-ins (think cane sugar, bitters, ginger syrup) and a little spoon or muddler. Best of all, it’s TSA-approved.