The holiday season is fast approaching. It is the busiest travel time of the year with everyone visiting friends and family or just taking a well-deserved vacation. Whether you are going to Dallas for the shopping weekend or flying across the country to visit family, we have great tips for holiday travel to keep you sane and enjoy the holiday season.
1. Prepare for the Trip in Advance
If driving, get your car ready
Before any road trip, you should get the car serviced. A little preventative maintenance can help you avoid costly delays and repairs while on the road.
- If you are almost due for an oil change, get it done prior to the trip.
- Check tire condition and pressure.
- Ensure that your spare tire is in the car and in good condition.
- Check/replace your windshield wipers. After the summer heat, the wipers may have become brittle and need replacing.
- Fill your car’s fluids; windshield wipers, radiator, etc.
If you are traveling with young children, be sure their car seats are properly installed.
Pack an emergency kit in your car. In case of bad weather or your car breaks down on the road, you want to be prepared. At a minimum your emergency kit should include:
- Bottled water for everyone in the car
- Warm blankets
- Road flares or emergency signals
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables
If flying, planning ahead will save you $$$ and sanity
The earlier you buy your airline tickets, the more money you’ll save. Fares increase the closer it gets to the holidays. See Tip #3 for ideas on how to save a little extra money.
When flying with children, I’m not going to lie, it can get a little stressful. I once flew pregnant with a 14 month old and 3 year old, all while my husband had a broken leg and was in a wheelchair going through TSA. It was a production but a little pre-planning made ALL the difference.
- Prepare the kids to go through the TSA security checkpoint. Let them know what to expect and make it fun for them.
- Check the TSA website a few days before the trip and check on what’s not/allowed.
- Give yourself extra time by checking in early.
2. Travel Snacks
No one is a happy camper when they are hungry. Pack healthy snacks and foods for everyone. Avoid high sugar snacks because no one wants hyper children when they travel. Low sugar, high protein snacks like whole wheat crackers and almond butter, dried and fresh fruit are all great ideas. They are easily portable and don’t make too much of a mess.
Drink plenty of water, too, when you travel. Whether you are driving or flying, you can easily become dehydrated. Bring refillable water bottles to make drinking water easier. Plus if anyone spills water, there isn’t a huge mess to clean up.
3. Travel at Off Peak Times
Leave before the holiday rush
Many people leave on Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the day before Christmas. Departing 2-3 days before the holiday or the day of the holiday can help avoid heavy traffic.
Departing early in the morning or later in the evening are also good times to avoid heavy traffic. You can travel when others are still sleeping and then take a nap yourself once you arrive at your destination.
If you are flying, early morning flights are less likely to be delayed or cancelled.
4. Make Time for Fun
The journey is half the fun of any trip. Make it enjoyable for everyone and it will be less stressful. Here are some ideas.
Plan for stops along the way
If you are driving, plan to get out and stretch your legs every few hours. Plan stops at interesting locations if you can. On our trips to Austin, we will stop at the Bedre Chocolate Factory near Sulphur, the Texas Welcome Center at the state line, a kolache shop in West, and the playground just off the highway before Georgetown. Planned stops can give you something to look forward to and prevent the dreaded “Are we there yet?”
Pack travel games or busy bags
On long trips, entertain the children with fun and interesting items. Games like I Spy, License Plate Bingo, and Scavenger Hunts are all fun car games. Busy bags are collections of items that will help prevent boredom. They can include books, coloring pages, toys, pipe cleaners, small toys, etc. The goal is to give a child new things to do while they travel.
5. Have a Back-Up Plan
Somethings things don’t go as planned; a flight may be delayed or you are stuck in traffic. Have a back-up plan and don’t stress out about it. If you are driving, plan an alternate route in case of weather or traffic. If flying, just roll with it and find a playground at the airport, play games with the kids, or take a walk to get rid of nervous energy.
Family travel during the holidays can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Be prepared and you’ll have a great trip.