The holidays are a festive time of year, but they can also prove stressful for the millions of people who travel to visit friends and family or use time off during the holidays to go on vacation. Because so many people travel during the holidays, airports are more crowded than usual and the nation's roadways often experience heavy traffic, especially on the days immediately before and after a holiday.

While there's not much travelers can do to reduce the number of fellow travelers come the holiday season, there are certain dos and don'ts that can make holiday travel much easier.

DO plan ahead. Leaving holiday travel plans until the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Some air travelers feel it's more affordable to book flights in the weeks leading up to the holidays rather than months in advance. While it's possible to find last minute airline deals, it's very possible such deals will put travelers on standby. That's potentially disastrous during a travel season that has frequent flight delays or cancellations due to inclement weather. Book travel plans as early as possible to avoid the hassles of last minute bookings.

DON'T blame airport staff if things go awry. The holiday season can be stressful for those who have to travel, but it's exceedingly stressful for the men and women who work in the travel industry. Airline employees, particularly those who work at ticket counters, are too often treated poorly by travelers who need someone to blame for flight delays and cancellations. The same goes for the people who work at bus or train stations. Regardless of how inconvenient interrupted travel plans can be, it's never the fault of the person working at the airport. It's often a result of inclement weather, which is something no one can control. Should travel plans be delayed or cancelled, remain courteous, compassionate and respectful of staff. Doing so is the right thing to do, and it might just garner you some consideration when the time comes to reschedule plans.

DO insure your trip. As mentioned above, flight delays and cancellations are common during the holiday season. Heavy snowfall can wreak havoc on travel plans, even for those people who live in relatively temperate climates. Travelers traveling to or from regions where heavy snowfall is a possibility should always protect themselves against flight cancellations or delays by insuring their trips. Insurance is often inexpensive and can protect travelers if their flight plans go awry. The peace of mind insurance provides can also reduce the stress of holiday travel.

DON'T try to make up for lost time. While there's little air travelers can do to make up for lost time, those traveling by automobile often try to make up for lost time by driving aggressively. Nothing could be more dangerous, as the roads are often overcrowded and driving conditions during the holidays are rarely ideal. Even if a traffic jam or other delay makes it impossible to stick to your travel schedule, don't risk disaster with aggressive driving. Instead, call your destination and explain you will be a little late because of delays on the roadway. No matter where you are going, be it a hotel or to a friend or family member's house, they will understand the situation and they will certainly prefer you get there safe and sound, even if that means getting there a little later than originally planned.

DO be an early bird. The early bird gets the worm, and when it comes to holiday travel, the early bird can also significantly reduce the stress of traveling. If traveling by air, get to the airport extra early. This way you won't have to fret when the lines at baggage check or security checkpoints are long. If traveling via automobile, get up early and hit the road before most drivers are even out of bed. It might not be fun to get up so early, but you will likely start your trip off with little to no traffic.

DON'T overdo it. It's tempting to try to see everyone during the holiday season, but most travelers would prefer to stay in one place for more time than to continue traveling from place to place without spending much time at any one place. Traveling too much can lead to exhaustion, which is especially dangerous for those traveling by automobile. If possible, spread out holiday travel as much as you can, and attempt to spend at least two nights sleeping in the same bed before hitting the road again.

Holiday travel doesn't have to be so difficult. Adhering to a few dos and don'ts can make this year's holiday travel far less stressful.