Whoever said the holidays are the “happiest time of the year” wasn’t loading up a crew of kids to head cross-country. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking advantage of holiday time to vacation, but getting there and back can be hard. Here are few tips to help ease the stress and help everyone arrive in good spirits.
Holiday Travel Tips
Travel Off-Peak Days: Try to fly or drive a few days before or after peak travel days. Not only will it usually save you money, but it will also reduce the chaos and increase the likelihood that you get to your destination in the shortest amount of time.
Fly Direct: Getting stuck in an airport for hours, let alone a night, is bad enough, but add kids to the mix and it’s a nightmare. So your best bet for holiday travel is to book non-stop flights. If that is not possible, then try to have your stop-over at an airport that, in the worst case, is within a drivable distance to your destination (under 8 hours drive). That way, if you get stuck, you always have to option of renting a car and driving. Also, avoid hubs that are known for delays like Chicago, Denver, and JFK in New York.
First Flight Of The Day: Even though it’s hard to wake the kids, catching an early flight increases your chance of on-time departure. If flights get cancelled, you have a better chance of getting on a new flight and all day to re-work the itinerary.
Pre-ship Luggage: The days leading up to holiday travel can be crazy, especially over Christmas and Hannukah. By the time I’m done going to parties, watching performances and getting all the little gifts to friends, mailmen, teachers, etc., I’m exhausted! Then of course, I leave packing to the night before and I’m up until 3 am. This is a time of year I consider pre-shipping our luggage, allowing me to complete the packing days in advance, travel light and avoid the new airline luggage fees. FedEx offers a service where you can pre-ship your luggage for basically the same amount the airlines charge. Plus, they come and pick the luggage up at your house. That’s my gift to myself for holiday travel.
Prepare For Delays: Most times of the year, I bring a small carry-on bag on the plane – not during the holidays. I plan for the worst and assume that we may get stuck or delayed and that our luggage may get lost. Included in my carry-on (usually a small rolling suitcase) is a change of clothes for everyone, food (including fruit so we can avoid carb-loading), medicines, and electronic chargers for the airport. Without the chargers, I become this crazy mother, rationing battery juice to ensure that the games, iPods, computer will last through the flight.
Photo by the Davis Family