(Cleveland Airport – photo credit: Cole Goldberg)

The malls are crowded, the roads are icy and the list of things to do is never ending. Tack on traveling, and it can get even harder. A simple trip to the market for eggnog in a travel destination city requires more than a little hoop jumping during the holidays. Wherever your travels take you this year, use this simple list to make it all just a little bit easier.
Pittsburgh International Airport 
1000 Airport Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15108
(412) 472-3525

1. Know weather conditions, travel routes and flight delays at your primary airport.

Just because you’re flying off to some tropical paradise doesn’t mean you can forget about winter weather, not until you get there anyway. This city has one of the most efficient international airports around, but it isn’t very close to Pittsburgh at all. The airport is about 20 miles from the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. In the winter that 20-minute drive can take more than an hour on icy roads or during heavy traffic. If you’re flying out of PIT this winter, leave yourself hours to get to your gate, just in case.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport 
5300 Riverside Drive
Cleveland, OH 44135
(216) 265-6000

2. Save on flights at nearby out-of-town airports.

Thrift-conscience travelers know the secret to saving big on airline tickets is shopping around. Not only should you compare prices between competing airlines, you should also compare rates between individual airports. Cleveland Hopkins International is about 125 miles from Pittsburgh International, so it’s not exactly nearby, but if you’re traveling with a group, or if you’re closer to Hopkins, you could save around $100 per ticket.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip to Cleveland, Ohio

3. Navigate smarter with GPS.

Americans love the open road. Whether it’s “over the river and through the woods,” or clear across the country, there are a few things to keep in mind before you take the wheel. GPS, global positioning satellite receivers can get you there fast and efficiently, especially if traffic is blocking the routes you know. Whether you invest or use the one on your phone, know that Pittsburgh plays host to some of the state’s most dangerous roads. Give yourself ample time, be careful on the belts and pull over to pick your routes.

MultiCamPlus Pittsburgh App

Price: $2.99

4. Save money and time with travel websites and smart phone applications.

Take advantage of real-time traffic updates and photos direct from PennDot with the MultiCamPlus Pittsburgh smartphone app. It will save you from sitting in gridlock traffic this holiday season. For instant information about hotel rates and reviews check out the Hotel Tonight app. It gives you everything you need to book a peaceful night’s sleep at the best price, anywhere. If your family has a favorite chain of hotel they prefer staying at, try contacting it directly for specials and deals.

Pittsburgh AMTRAK
1100 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 471-6170

5. Find alternative methods of travel.

There’s no more nostalgic way to travel to Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., or anywhere else in the northeast this holiday season than by train. An evening trip for two adults from Pittsburgh to New York’s Penn Station costs about $180. It’s much cheaper to travel by passenger train, especially if you book your tickets in advance. Furthermore, travel by train does not come with all of the hassles and baggage restrictions of flying.

Related: Thanksgiving Family Fun In Pittsburgh

Marcel Tourdot is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.