Expect crowded airports and roads for holiday trips, especially on Thanksgiving. This year, more than 27 million people will fly US airlines between November 18 and November 29, an increase of 2.5% according to Airlines for America, a trade group representing most US airlines. In addition, nearly 50 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles from their homes for Thanksgiving 2015, noted the American Automobile Association. While statistics are not yet available for 2016, the roads are expected to be crowded.
Here are some tips designed to ease the stress of holiday travel during Thanksgiving and Christmas/Chanukah.
Before Leaving Home
Mail gifts ahead of time. Lessen your luggage load by shipping gifts ahead of time. This gives you more space in the car if driving and cuts down on possible excess baggage fees when flying.
Obtain insurance and notarized permission documents. If your son’s friend is part of your ski trip, be sure to have a copy of his insurance card plus a notarized statement from his parents authorizing you to obtain medical help for him in case of an emergency. Otherwise, if he breaks his leg skiing, the hospital might only make him comfortable, delaying treatment until his parents are contacted for their consent.
Keep essentials handy. With babies on board, pack extra diapers, changes of clothing, food and bottles. Be sure that this bag is easily accessible in the car’s front seat (not the trunk) or as an airline carry-on (not as checked luggage). Keep extra batteries and electronic chargers handy so that your computers, video games, and cell phones will last as long as your road trip or flight.
Bring food and water. Like armies, families travel on their stomachs. Healthy snacks and bottles of water and juice go a long way toward quashing the crankies. When flying, allow additional time in the terminal to purchase sandwiches and drinks to take onboard.
At the Relatives’ House or the Resort
Do a safety check. With toddlers in tow, make sure that grandma’s guest room and the rest of the house are kid-safe. Consider bringing electrical outlet covers, baby gates to block stairs plus night lights for bedrooms and bathrooms and any other items the host family may not have. Several hotel chains offer complimentary child-proofing kits that contain outlet covers, corner guards for tables and toilet bowl locks.
Take a break. Plan some time without the relatives. When the gathering begins to get on your nerves, do something that allows you to recharge. Take a walk (dogs are good excuses), find a quiet spot to sit or volunteer for a quick run to the store.
Remember to be realistic and thankful. Try to overlook the long trek as well as your family’s foibles. If in the past, a seat at the table came with repeated stories, dry turkey and too many personal questions, then be realistic: This season is likely to be much the same. Instead of getting angry or sad, work with your children to find a creative solution and be sure to focus on the good stuff. That goes a long way toward making the holidays fun for you and your family.