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Published: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 12:00 a.m. CDT

<p>(BPT) - There&rsquo;s no place like home for the holidays, but getting there can be a less-than-joyous experience. While busy airports aren&rsquo;t known to inspire a holly, jolly spirit, a few tips and tricks can help you breathe a little easier as you make your way home.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the busiest travel time of the year,&rdquo; says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for the travel booking website Orbitz.com. &ldquo;While there are a lot of factors outside of your control, being more prepared and on top of the things within your power leaves you in a much better position to handle the unexpected.&rdquo;</p><p>Taking that into consideration, here are five things to keep in mind as you begin the oftentimes long, but equally rewarding, trek home.</p><p>Arrive early at the airport</p><p>This one might be pretty obvious, but it&rsquo;s worth stressing - get to the airport early (two hours before domestic flights and three before international). The earlier you can get through security, the better. If check-in and TSA lines end up being shorter than anticipated, that just leaves you with extra time to decompress and get organized before boarding. There&rsquo;s nothing worse than feeling rushed in a busy airport.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t take wrapped gifts through security</p><p>While those X-ray machines can certainly see through wrapping paper, that doesn&rsquo;t leave gifts immune to further inspection. Just as you might be required to open your suitcase, you might be required to open a gift. Gifts won&rsquo;t necessarily be unwrapped, but spare yourself the frustration and skip the paper.</p><p>Fly on a holiday</p><p>If you fly on Christmas Eve or Day, you&rsquo;ll likely encounter cheaper flights and quieter airports. While you might be cutting it a little close, strategic planning can get you home just in time for dinner, without crowds, &nbsp;and for less money.</p><p>Bring a surge protector/power strip</p><p>An Orbitz survey found that the average family of four plans to travel with at least one computing device per person this holiday season, with nearly half expecting to pack a combination of at least seven smartphones, tablets and laptops. That&rsquo;s a lot of devices. Consider bringing a power strip to help spread the electricity (and holiday cheer). If an outlet is in use, ask the person if he or she doesn&rsquo;t mind sharing. You and your family benefit, others benefit. It&rsquo;s a win-win.</p><p>Be patient. Be kind. Be helpful.</p><p>In the midst of all the craziness, it&rsquo;s easy to forget that everyone is trying to get somewhere and is under just as much pressure as you are. Take a deep breath, smile, and lend a helping hand where you can. It is the holiday season after all, and a little goodwill can go a long way, particularly in a busy airport.</p> <img src='http://www.brandpointcontent.com/printsite/ImageWriter.ashx?articleid=19470&memberid=8729' border='0' width='1' height='1' />

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