Family Travel Tips for the Holidays

by Lexa Pennington / Nov 03, 2012 /
Lexa Pennington's picture

The holidays are coming up, and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll be traveling to visit family and friends (or hosting them!). It’s a joyful time, Thanksgiving and Christmas, filled with laughter, good times together, great food, and even great-aunt Beatrice’s holiday sweaters.  But there is also a lot of stress involved with the holidays – everything from gifts to transportation, food to family. Well, I can’t really give you advice on how to deal with your family, even the irascible ones. Just know you’re not alone.

 

snowman

 

But I CAN share our top family travel tips for the holidays – hope it makes your journeys smoother.

 

1.    Plan ahead, part I. If you know you’ll be going somewhere, try to plan ahead. This means figuring out who is going where, what the sleeping arrangements will be, and even preparing for your kids homework loads. A well-planned journey tends to go more smoothly than one thrown together at the last minute.

 

2.    Plan ahead, part II. Flying somewhere? I’d suggest (along with Plan Ahead, part I) getting your airline tickets as early as possible, so you can snag lower prices and better seats – not to mention better flights (families love direct flights). If you have to stay overnight (or for longer) somewhere, check sites like tripping or airbnb for reasonable accommodations.  Driving? Be sure to take your car in for a tuneup, and have the oil changed, and the tires filled. Leave with plenty of extra time to deal with the weather.

 

winter roads

 

3.    Pack lightly, but well. Be aware of the weather where you’re going. If it will be cold, definitely pack enough warm clothes for everyone, even if you have to take another suitcase. It isn’t fun being cold, even if the gathering is warm and friendly.

 

4.    Ship the presents. Part of plan ahead (part III) could be shipping the presents, so you don’t have to worry about them making it, or breaking in your luggage (or being lost with your luggage). This is especially critical if you’re flying, as they can take up a lot of room. Be sure to mail your presents early enough to get there.

 

5.    Food, oh the food. Remind family members about food allergies, if applicable. Be generous with your time in the kitchen, and spread the work out. Didn’t help cook? Be sure to help clean. Even the kids can get in on the action, clearing the table, and providing the entertainment during the slog through the dishes.

 

6.    Kindness. Sometimes, journeys can be long and inspire quarrels. It can make “are we there yet?” sound positively benign. Practice and talk about kindness – because really, that’s the most important thing we can give each other. Pinched in tight quarters over the holidays? Practice kindness, from taking short showers to putting your stuff in the closet every morning (and not sleeping until noon).

 

7.    Have fun! The holidays are a special time, where you can build memories that will last your lifetimes. Laugh, sing, dance, play the piano, go for long walks on snowy nights. Read to the little kids, bake cookies, watch sports, create art, listen to music – each family will have their own traditions, but having fun is common ground for everyone.

 

ornaments on the Christmas tree