There’s a reason the quickly-approaching season is considered the most stressful time of year. You’ve got gifts to buy, planes to catch, in-laws to deal with, etc. While you appreciate and enjoy the holiday itself, planning your vacation (hopefully you can call it that) can give you undue anxiety and ruin your trip before it’s even begun. This week, we’re going to give you some tips on how to survive holiday travel. Read on to find some useful ways to prioritize so you don’t lose your holiday cheer!
This is really the golden rule of travel, but it’s worth reiterating. First, realize that everyone else in the world is traveling this time of year also. Airport lines will be long, traffic will come to a standstill and there’s a chance your flight/drive will be delayed due to weather. If you’re flying, pack everything you can into a carry-on, and try to avoid having to check a bag. Have your headphones, books, tablet, etc. immediately accessible so you’re prepared for a wait. Another option is to sign up for TSA Pre-Check, which will save you an enormous amount of time in the security line. Find out how to apply here.
To avoid the delays and crowds, you could always travel on off-days, or if your schedule isn’t that flexible, travel on the holiday itself. You’ll save a ton of money on your flight, and traffic is rarely heavy on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. If your family is OK with it, you could also have an early/late Thanksgiving or Christmas as well. Airlines are obviously aware that demand is high on peak holiday travel days, and they charge accordingly. Rates will be back to normal the week after each holiday, and the most important thing is being together anyway, right?
If you’re not driving in a warm climate, prepare like you’re going to get stuck due to weather. Check road conditions and weather for the entire drive, and don’t put you and your family at risk if it looks too dicey. Make sure you have plenty of water, blankets, flashlights, food supplies and tire chains in your car. Don’t let your gas tank get anywhere near empty. I’ve made a lot of white-knuckle drives during the winter across South Dakota and Minnesota, and learned the hard way that it’s best to have everything you need in case you get stuck. Here’s another good rule: don’t rely on the radio. Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time on the road (try Audible for an awesome selection). As always, plan accordingly.
Sweet relief! You arrive at your in-laws, only to discover the most harrowing part of the journey has just begun. When relatives are packed together for too long, tension can build. Maybe plan a day out with just you and/or your immediate family. Cities usually have a lot going on over the holidays. There are parades, festivals, tree lightings, etc. Museums will often run promotions and have Christmas specials. Some of the biggest blockbuster movies come out this time of year. You can also pack some athletic clothes to either hit the gym or go for a run to relieve the holiday bloat. The point is, find some time to do things you want to do. If this is one of the few vacations you get a year, you want to make it count.
Another quick tip: if you are flying home with kids, chances are they have gifts, sometimes way too many to travel with. To avoid checking a bag, consider shipping gifts home. This can save you money compared to the exorbitant fees airlines charge if your bags are over the weight limit.
Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for your holiday trip. If you prepare well, your vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. As always, feel free to let us know your favorite holiday vacation tips in the comments. Happy exploring!