Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with that comes the busiest travel day of the year. Family travel is hectic even in the slowest season. Here are some tips to get you through the chaos of the holiday– whether you’re traveling by plane or car.
- Have everything packed and ready to go the night before. I know this is always the plan, but if you’re like me, you’re scrambling around at the last minute packing things you think you need, but really don’t. This leads to two problems. Excess baggage and forgetting something you really need. Instead, make a list a few days before and carefully pack and check off each item. Have everyone’s bags waiting at the front door ready to go the morning of your trip. Resist the urge to add anything! Chances are the most important things are packed and if you do forget something, you can purchase it at your destination (or borrow it from family).
- Get organized. Organization goes beyond packing. If you’re flying, have everyone’s passports, boarding passes and other important documents neatly organized. Brush up on procedures for getting through security and check to see if any items need to be separated and declared (baby formula, breast milk, juice).
- Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Print off your Google maps and load your GPS with addresses coming and going. Don’t assume you remember directions to Aunt Suzy’s and Uncle Tom’s house because you drove there 5 years ago. Make sure you’ve arranged transportation to and from the airport and don’t forget to request child safety seats, if needed.
- Pack snacks. Lots of snacks. When traveling with kids, I don’t think you can have enough snacks. While healthy snacks should be at the top of the list, don’t underestimate the value of an all-out treat, which should be reserved until absolutely necessary (aka flight delays, cancellations, heavy traffic…). Also, don’t forget chewing gum for older kids if you’re flying.
- Pack activities. Lots of activities. Snacks and activities go hand in hand for me. This is the time to pull out the portable DVD players, hand held gaming devices and favorite toys. Also, it’s smart to buy never-before-seen activity books and coloring pads for surprises when the kids get restless.
- Pack comfort items. Dress children in comfortable clothing on travel days. Don’t forget blankets, small pillows and most importantly, lovies.
- Expect the (un)expected. If your children aren’t perfect in everyday life, you can’t expect them to be perfect for hours in a car or on a plane. Traveling is stressful for everyone. Your best bet is to make sure you have all the necessities to keep kids busy during the bulk of your travel day. Try to stay calm, even if things aren’t going as planned. Children can sense stress and react accordingly.
- Enjoy your time together as a family– that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.