Traveling during the holidays can often be a bit stressful and chaotic. Having useful holiday travel tips can certainly make things a lot easier. Whether it’s car maintenance, booking flights way in advance or knowing how frequently to stop if you’re on the road for an extended period of time, you can never be too careful, especially during the holidays.

Number Ten: Always Be 10 Steps Ahead.

There are a number of things that can go wrong at any given moment, which is why it’s important to be prepared. Whether traveling by plane, train or your car, make sure you’ve got everything mapped out. Spontaneity can be important and even fun from time to time, but think of this more as controlled spontaneity.

Number Nine: Leave 1-2 Hours Earlier.

When racing to the airport, encountering serious traffic is always a possibility that can cause you to miss a flight. So if you have to leave early and spend one extra hour sitting in the airport, how bad could that be? Being in a rush is rarely enjoyable, so give yourself plenty of room to breathe by leaving one to two hours earlier than you need to. It might be good to spend that extra time with your family, after all.

Number Eight: Pack Light.

In order to save yourself some time and money, having light luggage is a good idea. One problem is that some airlines are becoming less lenient with weight allowances and baggage limits. In addition, bringing a whole slew of unnecessary suitcases and bags can be distracting when you’re trying to enjoy your vacation. If there are certain things that you absolutely must have during the trip, try shopping online and having those things sent to the vacation destination.

Number Seven: Remember to Stretch.

Sitting down for too long is never really good for your body, and if you are on a long trip, stretching will have to be mandatory. Walking to the bathroom on the airplane regularly and stretching your arms and legs is important, just as stopping regularly on the road and stretching at your leisure is important.

Number Six: Avoid That Nasty Flu.

Making sure you don’t get sick is one of the more important holiday travel tips. Traveling with a flu is never fun, and it’s sure to put a big damper on your holiday vacation. Bringing hand sanitizer with you and washing your hands regularly can help prevent that nasty flu, and it might be a good idea to get the flu shot.

Number Five: Make Sure the Car Is In Tip-Top Shape.

The last thing you want is to be 40 miles away from your home only to see the “Service Engine Soon” sign blinking, with another 40 miles to go before you reach your destination. There are plenty of things that can go wrong with your vehicle when left unchecked. Before you embark on your winter trip, take it into the shop, check your fluids and make sure your car is in good condition.

Number Four: Have a Backup Route in Place.

Google Maps is an incredibly useful tool when taking long trips, but even if you have this or a navigator in your car, always have a backup route in mind. Things like rain or snow can have many effects on car travel, and construction is often an annoying hindrance that can slow you down if you encounter it. Maybe you’re someone who likes to avoid those pesky tolls, or you’re always looking for the quickest, most efficient route to your destination. Knowing your way around the road is always helpful.

Number Three: Keep Yourself Hydrated.

It’s not summer, so thankfully you won’t be passing out from heat exhaustion, but keeping yourself hydrated is still important. A one or two percent loss in body weight can quickly make you feel fatigued and can also decrease your alertness, which is never good if you’re driving. Your body requires more energy during the winter, so a thermos filled with hot soup can be a great ally to you while you’re out on the open road.

Number Two: Keep Everyone Fed.

Much like keeping everyone hydrated, it’s also equally important to make sure that no one is starving. Who knows how long you’ll have to sit in the car, so packing some food – sandwiches, fruits and other snacks – can take away the hunger pangs. It also never hurts to pull over at a local restaurant or diner and grab some warm food while making your trip.

Number One: Don’t Forget Your Winter Safety Kit.

During this time of year, traveling without these essential items can cause real serious problems if things were to go wrong. A flashlight, extra blankets and first aid kit are key components of this kit, as well as jumper cables, an ice scraper and tow rope. If you experience traction while in the snow, bringing along some cat litter or sand will help keep you moving. Also, don’t forget your cell phone, and always remember to keep it fully charged.