The holiday season shimmers with joy and generosity, but the moments of stress and chaos peek through with travel planning. Overcrowded airports, flight delays, and carmageddon loom around the crunch-time travel days, always threatening to be a mood-buster. Just like our Thanksgiving travel article, there are ways to avoid complete and total meltdowns during holiday travel with your family; no matter how near or far, these tips for stress-free holiday travel will be your can’t-leave-behind pocket guide.
Research the Route
Through trains, planes, or automobiles, determine your goal: get there as quickly as possible, get there hassle-free, or avoid traffic/crowds completely. Research if there is an alternate or more scenic drive; it may take a bit longer, but allow you to avoid traffic. If flying, decide if you’re willing to pay more for a direct flight to get you to your destination faster, or are you alright with a strategic (non-crazy airport) layover?
* Pro-Tip: Avoid these connection hubs if possible: Chicago O’Hare, New York’s JFK, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International. Check the top 10 worst here.
Choose the Date & Time Wisely
Traveling the day before a holiday is sure to be heavily trafficked no matter the transportation; if your work/school/life schedule allows it, try to travel on an off day. Flight statistics show that early morning flights have a better chance of being on time, and same rule applies on the roads – super early or late, the less traffic you’ll see.
Plan Your Packing & Pack Light
“He’s making a list, checking it twice…” That isn’t just for Santa, it’s meant for you too! Plan your packing in advance, and write down everything you and your family needs that’s essential. Babies and kids call for extra equipment, make sure all accessories, meds, food, wipes, etc. are ready to go. Lastly, pack light and bring a carry-on size bag or backpack however you’re traveling. If you are in fact flying, avoid checking a bag all together and pack as small as possible. For example, six pairs of shoes for a three day trip is a bit excessive…
Kids, boyfriends/husbands/significant others, in-laws, pets, etc… generally need some entertainment to keep them happy and occupied. Download movies/games/apps/music to ensure that everyone has something to do throughout the trip.
Don’t Get Hangry
Pack snacks and reusable water bottles that are travel-friendly. Granola, crackers, wrapped fruit, and nuts are easy to throw in a backpack, and mess-free! Avoid any and all hangry feelings with a well-timed snack or meal before getting in the car/train/plane.
Ten minutes of mindfulness can go a long way. Breathe in, breathe out, and do it slowly. Repeat. Get your mindfulness fix here.