My family has traveled every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My parents and I have lived in different states from our extended families since I was 5 years old, so holiday travel has always been a part of the plan. We always drove; airports just didn’t seem worth it. The road trips were long, especially from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, but always worth it to see our family that we didn’t get to see but 3 or 4 times a year.
This year, I’m making the drive from Tennessee to North Carolina–with Maggie kitty along for the ride–for both holidays, and meeting my parents and family there. We’ve traveled with pets before, but I’ve never done it solo. #prayforkate
I like to think that we’re holiday travel pros at this point, since we’ve done it so much. Over the years, we’ve learned some tips and tricks to making travel less of a hassle.
Here are my best tips for making holiday travel smooth and easy for everyone!
1. Start packing a week before leaving. Or, at the least a few days. Every time I try to pack the night before extended travel, I always forget something. Always. Try giving yourself 3-5 days to start packing, or to start organizing what you’ll need for your trip.
2. Make a list of everything you need to pack. Every. Single. Item. The last thing you want is to get to your destination and realize you forgot something. Most of the time, it’s easy to get a replacement, but it’s inconvenient. Avoid that inconvenience and make sure you’ve got everything you need.
3. Don’t forget any important documents. Prescriptions, IDs, pet tags, what have you. Pack it and make it easy to get to when/if you need it. There’s nothing worse than needing to get to something and having to dig through two bags to find it.
4. Embrace the roll (when packing clothes). When there’s a lot to pack and not a lot of space, you’ve got to make every inch useful. Roll your clothes into tubes or logs to make packing and stacking more space-efficient. Stuff socks and smaller rolls into shoes to make even more room. It sounds kind of silly, but it works! I’ve been packing this way for years.
5. Do laundry before you leave. The last thing you want to do when you get home is seven loads of laundry. I always do a couple loads a day or two before I leave so I have some clean clothes and underwear to wear when I get home. Avoid the laundry rush.
6. Bring healthful snacks in the car. It’s easy to munch on junk food during road trips, but those won’t always help you stay awake and focused. My family’s favorite road trip snack is sausage balls, but I don’t always have time to make those. Trail mix, protein bars and small fruit and/or veggies are optimal choices. Most convenience stores have snack-sized packages of carrots or apple slices that are perfect for the road. Eating healthful snacks also helps you stay awake and focused, whereas junk food might make you tired.Holiday travel doesn't have to be stressful. Make it easier with these tips! Click To Tweet
7. Balance the weight in your car. This is especially important if you drive a top-heavy car, like an SUV (like I drive). By putting all of your luggage on one side of your vehicle, you put your car at more risk to turn over or shift too quickly when you make turns or merge onto the highway. Keep the weight distribution even so that sudden movements don’t cause any trouble.
8. Pace yourself on the road. The worst part about long drives is when you hit the driving doldrums…those hours in the middle when you’re bored of the road, but have to pay attention and stay alert. If you start feeling tired, stop somewhere safe and let yourself rest for a little bit. Grab a snack or a drink to refuel. If you’re traveling with a pet, take time to let them out (safely) and eat a little, too.These 9 #tips will make your holiday travel smooth & easy! Click To Tweet
9. Update your friends and family along the way. Not only does this let them know your progress along the way, it lets them know you’re safe. I always try to let my family know when I stop and about how far along I am. That way, they’ll have an idea of when to expect me.
Holidays are supposed to be happy and fun times with your loved ones. While traveling isn’t always easy, making it less stressful will make everything about the holidays more enjoyable for everyone involved.
How do YOU make your holiday travel easier? What tips do you have for making long trips stress-free?