One of the most stressful times of the year is, almost assuredly, the holidays. The traffic and sheer volume of those traveling skyrockets through November and December, with the day before Thanksgiving commonly cited as the busiest travel day of the year for those in the United States.
Driving down packed interstates, navigating crammed airports and managing a full family’s luggage is no easy feat. Follow a few of these strategies to ease the pain of seasonal travel.
When your travel is still a few days away, make a checklist for every member of your family. If your kids are old enough, it is a good idea to get them to help with this so they understand the importance of being prepared, as well as feel like they are involved in the travel process. Once everyone has put together their checklist, shop for anything you might need, including toiletries.
On the days leading up to your travel, pack away things you will not need. Extra clothes and travel toiletries fit this mold well. By knocking out preliminary packing early, day-of travel stress will be reduced.
If your Thanksgiving travel takes the family via air, make sure to arrive at the airport early enough to clear security in plenty of time. How much time you need will depend on your final destination and your original airport, but a generally safe recommendation is to arrive about two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights.
If you are driving to your family’s Thanksgiving gathering, plan ahead to avoid major highways and congestion. It might pay to take a route slightly longer to avoid major metropolitan areas. For example, taking I-81 instead of I-95 has the potential to allow for a much safer, and more relaxing, trip.
If you are traveling with young kids, make sure to pack snacks. This will alleviate the need to take detours in the airport or pull over in rest stops. If you do need to make detours and pull off at rest stops, keep the family together. A young one wandering off could be much worse than a delay while you locate them.
Travel is going to be stressful regardless of your traveling party or time of year, but making lists, packing early and getting a jump start on the actual travel will go a long way toward kicking off the holiday season in a cheerful way.
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