There’s no place like home for the holidays, right? The only problem is that everyone else seems to have the same idea at this time of year. If you’re looking for some ideas to minimize the stress of traveling around the holidays, keep these helpful tips in mind.
- Give gift cards or ship presents to family and friends before the holidays start, to minimize packing stress and eliminate overstuffed luggage. If you order online, you can often ship directly to the recipient without paying additional postage.
- Carry a snack. Since a few lines are inevitable, and connecting flights are often a long ways away, make sure you have a snack handy. You’ll be more on top of things and less irritable if you aren’t skipping meals.
- Bring earplugs. It’s a beautiful thing to get a little peace and quiet mid-flight. You can tune out that annoying conversation to your right, a whining child, or a snoring fellow passenger.
- Exercise before your flight. Don’t overdo it with a workout that makes you sore, but light exercise can help prevent leg cramps. If you have a layover, take advantage of the long corridors and stretch your legs a bit.
- Bring some interesting entertainment. Whether it’s a book you’ve wanted to read, a magazine, or some earphones and music, you need something to zone out to while traveling. It’ll help in long lines and during the flight.
- Get a maintenance checkup for your car before heading out during the holidays. Have any necessary work performed before your trip.
- If you’re traveling through big cities, plan travel times carefully so you don’t hit rush hour traffic.
- Instead of packing gifts in your car (and hoping the wrapping doesn’t get crumpled), give gift cards or ship presents to family and friends.
- Pack a winter safety kit. Snowstorms could pop up at any time, or your car could break down and leave you temporarily stranded while you wait for assistance. Your winter safety kit should include things like snacks, water, flashlight, extra clothing and blankets, booster cables, a first aid kit, a roadside flare, a roadside distress flag, extra gloves, a shovel, a rope or a tow chain, an ice scraper, a radio with battery backup, any regular medications you or your passengers take, and either sand, road salt, or cat litter (for traction in ice storms).
- If you have children, you can make the journey enjoyable for them (and more tolerable for yourself!) by planning a few short stops along the way. The destination doesn’t have to be amazing—often playing at a park is exactly what kids need after spending hours in the car.
- Remember to make safety your top priority when driving in winter weather conditions. Allow extra time between vehicles, don’t drink and drive, pull over if you get sleepy, and slow down in rain or snow.