Preparing for Family Holiday Trips

Even though the time for family summer vacations is past us, many of us will be traveling to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, our tips will help you focus on family this holiday, and reduce your travel stress.

Plan ahead

With millions of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving, the holiday season is a hectic time for travel. The sooner your plans are finalized, the better you may be able to avoid logistical headaches. For example, if you book travel or hotel tickets earlier, you might avoid the restrictive cancelation options that are typically added on closer to Thanksgiving. Tickets may also be cheaper if you book sooner.

If you are traveling by plane, you may want to investigate alternate airports to potentially reduce the holiday crowds. Be sure to plan your layovers carefully as well, to allow your family enough time to make connections.

If you’re driving, planning your route in advance is also advised. Come up with alternate routes in case there are travel delays or advisories when you’re passing through.

Pack strategically

While you may be excited to bring gifts to everyone you’re visiting, packing as light as possible can help you get through check-in lines easier. Create a list of essential items for both you and your child, and do a test pack beforehand to ensure you have as much room as you think you do. If you are bringing gifts, leave them unwrapped to reduce the possibility of wasted time in airport baggage screening. If possible, traveling with carry-on luggage only will save you even more time and hassle.

Leave early

Whether it’s a long line at airport security or traffic jams on the freeway, starting your journey at peak hours can lead to stress and headaches for everyone. Leave as early as you can to allow for unexpected delays, so you and your family can have an easier trip. Traveling early or late in the day can help you avoid the busiest travel hours.

Keep all planning-related items handy

During the busy holiday travel season, ten minutes spent searching for your boarding passes or your hotel’s address can add up to increased stress and frustration. Keep all of your important travel information in one place that’s easy for you to access. For example: flight and hotel confirmations, airline or train tickets, and contact information for friends and family you’re visiting. Ensure all smartphones and tablets are fully charged so you aren’t held up by a drained battery.

Avoid toddler and preschooler meltdowns

While your children might enjoy being on the plane, train, or in the car, there are times when tiredness or hunger will cause issues while traveling. Pack snacks, books, and quiet toys to help keep your child distracted and calm while waiting at the airport or train station. While travel is disruptive to everyone’s schedule, try to help your child stick to their usual nap times as much as possible.

Be patient

While these tips can help you reduce your holiday travel stress, a perfect journey is rare. When traveling as a family, there are many issues of comfort, behavior, and logistics to try and manage. With so many others traveling for the holiday season, delays and unexpected issues will arise. Remember to be patient and breathe, and try to work together as a family to get to your destination. Soon enough, you will be with family and friends enjoying some well-earned holiday fun.