With the Holiday season officially upon us and the busiest day of travel a few short hours away, I began thinking back to the many trips I’ve taken with my family, both the successes and the misses. Since the laundry isn’t done yet (and our own travel bags aren’t yet packed) I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of 5 travel tips I’ve learned to help us (and you) enjoy the best parts of this holiday season.
Tip #1 : Expect Delays
Whether you are traveling by car or by air, Thanksgiving day is the busiest travel day of the entire year…and Christmas isn’t too far off. This means that no matter where you are going, there will be delays. If you expect them, can you plan for them.
If you are traveling by air, it is vital that you arrive early to the airport. I would recommend you add an extra hour to the time when you would normally arrive at the airport. This can give you a good buffer to get through the long lines at check-in and security.
If you are traveling by car, expect traffic and plan accordingly. Maybe take a different route to avoid traffic or leave sooner so if unexpected traffic arises, you can still be on time to your destination.
Tip # 2: Plan, plan and then plan some more
I love spontaneous trips where you just throw a few things and the kids in the car and go where the wind takes your! Holiday travel is not one of those times. (It can be, but I don’t recommend it)
I have a confession to make…I love lists. I love the feeling of marking something off, proving I’ve accomplished something. If you’re like me, now is the time to shine!
Make a list of everything that needs to happen before you leave and then start working on that list a few days to a week before you want to leave. This will allow you to have time to get everything done without the stress of rushing.
If you’ll be traveling by car, be sure to check your car maintenance and check all fluid levels a few days before you leave so you have time to take it to a shop if needed. Clean out your car a few days before too so you aren’t waiting until the day of to clean and pack and you don’t want to travel with a messy car. (If you have kids like mine, good luck keeping it clean)
If traveling with kids, plan for snacks and entertainment. Have snacks in their own bags and extras in your bag (if traveling by air) or in the car. Also make sure the kids have stuff to do. Books, toys, coloring items or electronics (and all the plugs/cables).
When traveling with kids, consider stowing away in your bag or the car extra entertainment items that you can surprise them with when they are tired of what they have (or when things go wrong).
Tip #3: Keep It Simple
So, now that I’ve just gotten through saying to make lists and plan ahead, it’s also important to relax and keep things simple. It is the holidays after all! Remember why you are going through all of this. To spend time with family or loved ones. The worst thing to do is get so stressed out that you can’t enjoy the journey.
If traveling by air, consider traveling light with everyone bringing only carry-ons. This can help you bypass the headaches that can arise with checked baggage (lost or damaged bags) and it also allows you to be flexible. If one flight is booked or cancelled, you might be able to quickly switch to a different airline (or even take a bus or train) without having to wait for baggage.
Sometimes, we can’t help but check something. If traveling with young kids, car seats come to mind. Consider shipping an extra car seat to the destination (Grandma’s house) ahead of time and then shipping it back.
Tip #4: Be kind
This is really important. Remember how everyone is rushing to get somewhere and things can always go wrong? Being kind to the employees and other travelers around you will go a long way.
If flying, the gate agents can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If they are working, it also means they are not with their family. Be kind! Despite what people may think, they are not plotting against you. They don’t want you sleeping in the airport as much as you don’t want to. They are doing their best to help everyone and having an attitude with them because of something out of their control (weather, mechanical or crew issues, etc) will not get you to Nanna’s (insert favorite holiday item here) any faster.
Tip #5: Be present
When you’ve finally arrived at your destination, remember to be present! Be with the people you love and make memories. If visiting elderly relatives, consider asking them to tell you stories of past holidays and memories and consider recording it (audio or video). It will become treasured family history for you and your children.
Put down the phone, help in the kitchen, ask questions and/or play games. Being with family is the best part of the holidays.
Whether you are traveling across town or across the globe, these tips can help you navigate the holidays.