Research ahead of time
Research alternative trips, so if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming you have options (consider less stressful or scenic drives that might be longer but have less traffic.) Also break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.
If you can avoid checking in bags, you will not only save yourself a lot of stress but also a lot of money (as airlines raise prices on checked baggage!) It will also prevent you from having to wait hours to collect bags the other side, and remove any risk of gifts getting lost along the way! If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications and important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.
Make sure you download handy travel apps before you leave home. Uber will make sure you get door to door to/and from the airport in most major cities, and can be called on demand so you no longer have a reason to be late for that flight! Getfreebird will automatically rebook your flight if you experience a cancellation or delay of more than 4 hours, or if you miss your connecting flight.
Don’t get hangry
Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane, so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.
Ship gifts or give gift cards
Consider having online purchases delivered. If you’ve already purchased your gifts pre trip, TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Another option is a gift card or a gifting experience from sites like travelzoo.com who’s holiday gift guide provides lots of great gifting ideas!
Travel on off-peak days
The most popular days to travel are obviously the most stressful. Consider leaving early on the actual holiday itself (Christmas Day, News Years Day etc) and avoid the record traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: if you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers. Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance.
Travel early or late in the day
Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. And if your flight is cancelled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day. Also, there will be fewer lines at security. Best time to hit the road? When every one else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).
Plan for the unexpected
Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few band-aids never hurt either.
Treat the travel dramas as great content for the dinner table over Christmas (they will all provide laughs in the end) and take the quiet moments, mid flight or mid travel, to meditate and breath. Handy apps like Calm or Headspace are great to have on your smartphone for those moments.