If you’re traveling over the holidays and want to make holiday travel as painless as possible, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve traveled for the holidays pretty much every one of the past ten years and learned quite a bit about traveling on your own, traveling with babies, and even traveling with your entire family. Driving, flying, or commuting locally? Yep, I’ve done it. And these are my best tips for holiday travel!
Tips For Holiday Travel – Stress Free
Holiday Travel Tip #1: Bring Twice as Much
I’ve been in the worst case scenario. Almost exactly ten years ago, I got on a plane, with my then fiance, headed from Salt Lake City to New York City where I was meeting up with the rest of my family for a little holiday in the big apple before driving down to Washington DC for my wedding. Our flight made it from Salt Lake to Denver just in time for the blizzard of 2006 to hit and shut down the entire Denver airport. Imagine me, my wedding dress, my husband, my grandma, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my 11-month old nephew in an airport for three days, sleeping on cardboard boxes, and eating potato chips. The only thing pretty about it was my wedding dress. I made it to my wedding by the way.
Pretty sure no one can actually prepare to be snowed into an airport, but since then I always pack anything important (medication, chargers, paperwork, etc.) in my carryon bag. And I always bring cash and extra snacks just in case the power knocks out credit card machines, vending machines, etc. My rule of thumb is to bring twice as much as you think you’ll really need – twice the diapers, twice the snacks, twice the activities, and so on. Especially when traveling with kids.
Holiday Travel Tip #2: Give Yourself a Break
Getting together with family or other large groups of people can be seriously overwhelming when you travel. Strange beds, strange places, and sometimes even strange people. If you’re driving somewhere for the holidays or flying somewhere and going to be there for more than a day or two, I recommend booking at least one night at a Holiday Inn Express to give your family a break from the craziness that comes with the holidays.
Holiday Inn Express is perfect for giving yourself a break this holiday season. Book a weekend night between now and December 18th and take advantage of Snoozapalooza – the best kept secret to getting a good night’s sleep. And when you’re traveling for the holidays or traveling with family, a good night’s sleep is everyone’s best friend.
Holiday Inn Express’ Snoozapalooza lets you get all the sleep you need. With an automatic late checkout (noon!) and breakfast that’s open until noon, even the sleepiest of families can get the sleep they need and take advantage of the free breakfast. It’s honestly like they’re encouraging you to sleep all morning.
And breakfast isn’t just your standard continental breakfast – you can make your own pancakes in a minute using their pancake machine, choose from over 30+ items, eat hot and gooey cinnamon rolls, and did I mention it’s open until noon? You could even send the early birds down for breakfast when they wake up at 8AM and let your late sleepers eat a late breakfast or brunch. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Holiday Travel Tip #3: Avoid Peak Travel Days
I know this is easier said than done but if you can, avoid peak travel days like the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Save up a vacation day to use for Weds (or Monday) and leave on Tuesday night instead. Not only will it save you time, it’ll save you money on flights, and likely your sanity. If you are planning to travel on peak travel days, take a nap in the evening and drive through the night. Or do whatever possible so you’re not fighting the other millions on the road and in the air trying to get to their family, all at the exact same time.
Holiday Travel Tip #4: Don’t Over Plan
I am the queen of FOMO (fear of missing out) and for some reason when I travel feel the need to do and see it all. Case in point, my recent trip to Ocala where I literally bounced from place to place for three straight days, never taking a minute to relax. Don’t make your holidays about doing it all. Make them about relaxing and enjoying the people you’re with, not having to go see every holiday display and playing in every turkey bowl there is. The travel bookending your visit will be much less stressful if people aren’t completely exhausted and worn out from a busy trip.
Holiday Travel Tip #5: Prep Early
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about traveling, it’s that doing everything last-minute is a sure fire way to add stress to any trip. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve walked out the door frustrated because we didn’t have time to do this or that, because we left it all for the last second. Or my house just looks like this when we leave.
Start getting prepped now. Get clothes washed that you’re going to wear, empty suitcases from your last trip (or maybe that’s just me), make sure your car is all ready for winter travel, slowly start picking up your house. All of those things you know need to be done, just pick one or two a day and work on them. It’ll make the night before and the day of so much better, and that itself can make or break the actual traveling.
Holiday Travel Tip #6: Make it a Surprise
I’m not talking about surprising them with the trip. I’m talking about picking up a couple of small surprises for the trip itself. I definitely recommend packing entertainment and snacks (twice as much, remember!) that they’re familiar with as well, but there’s just something about getting a surprise treat, toy, or game that helps with those endorphins and keeping people happy. It can be something as simple as downloading a couple of new games or movies on an iPad, picking up a few surprises at the dollar store like I do when I fly with my toddler, or even buying a book to read together.
Spend a few bucks and the dividends will be worth way more than you spent. You may even get a few minutes where someone isn’t telling you they’re bored or asking if you’re there yet.