Image source: Flickr - Jeff Turner
The holidays are here and with it thousands of families are taking to the roads and to the sky to visit loved ones. For many reasons, the holidays can be a stressful time to travel for the average person, but when you throw kids into the mix, kids who have minds of their own and tend to run in the opposite direction of their parents, it can prove to be an experience many parents would soon forget and never repeat again. It doesn't have to be that way though. There are steps you can take to make your life, as a parent, just a tad easier when you head out the door this holiday season.
You do not have to pack the kitchen sink when you travel with kids. Let me repeat that. Leave the kitchen sink at home people. Pack for half the number of days that you will be gone, especially if you will be visiting friends or family who have a washing machine. Pack a few extra accessories to mix up your looks if you are worried about wearing the same thing twice. Chances are, no one will remember what you have been wearing anyway. They will be too busy with their own holiday dramas.
Ship as much as possible
Ship anything and everything you can ahead of time. If you are ordering gifts or buying presents that have an online store, order them direct and have them shipped to your final travel destination. You can either pay a little extra for the vendor to wrap or wrap the gifts when you get there. This will save you room in your car and suitcase and give you peace of mind that everything will be there when you arrive. You can also ship diapers, baby food and wipes ahead of time to save yourself space in your luggage.
If you are flying, arrive earlier than you think to the airport. Security lines get longer and move slower as more people pass through over Christmas and Thanksgiving. You don't want to have to hustle the kids through security just to make your flight. Chances are that is the one time your child will run through the metal detector without you or there will be a major diaper accident. It is Murphy's Law of Parenting after all; Anything and everything will go wrong when you can't afford it to happen.
Drive on the holiday or early enough before and after to avoid traffic
Driving during the holidays can be more stressful than flying as you hit the road with thousands of your neighbors, co-workers and closest friends (or at least you all will be friends as you sit on the interstate together). Leave a day or two earlier if you can afford the vacation time so you can avoid the mad exodus from wherever you live. If you can't afford the extra vacation days, consider leaving on Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. You will deal with more local traffic, with families rushing to and from each others homes, but the highways could be a bit lighter since most people left the night before.
No matter what, remain cool and calm this holiday season. Yelling at flight attendants will not get your flight up in the air faster; in fact it could get you kicked off your flight these days. Remember that family is most important, and even if you ring in the New Year with sandwiches at the airport or on the NJ Turnpike, you will still be together.
What are your tips for stress free holiday travel?