How to Remain Safe, Sane, and Smiling While Traveling During the Holidays
Posted by: Patrick Lewis, Manager, Content Development
It’s that time of year again…holiday travel time. According to AAA, more than 54 million travelers will hit the roads and airports during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. That’s a lot of people! In fact, that represents a 5% increase over last year, and the highest volume of travelers in a dozen years.
Of the overall 54.3 million travelers:
- 48.5 million will drive 50 miles or more this year, up 5% from last year
- 4.27 million will fly to a destination, up 5.4% from last year
- 1.48 million will travel by train, bus, or cruise ship, up 1.4% from last year
Practice “The Four Ps”
Whether you’re driving, flying, or hosting, common themes for success emerge, so remember the “four Ps”:
- Planning: being prepared is more than half the battle
- Patience: take it easy, you’ve got this!
- Perseverance: everything may not go perfectly, be prepared to adapt and overcome
- Perspective: this is a time to be thankful, have fun, and spend valuable time with friends and family, so remember to keep that in mind!
If You’re Driving: Ten Driving Safety Tips
Timing is everything. If you can, plan your travel for early in the week or Thanksgiving Day itself, and remember that return travel is at its height the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you can adjust your travel days, it will pay off in less stress and time stuck in traffic. Avail yourself of apps like Waze to plan the best route and a use an electronic toll collection system like E-ZPass® to speed you on your way.
If you are traveling by car to visit family and friends, make sure that you prepare in advance to ensure a safe trip. Most of these tips from the American Red Cross are pretty obvious, and they are good rules to follow when driving any time of year, but a refresher can’t hurt:
- Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip.
- Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk.
- Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
- Check the weather before departing and along your route. Plan for travel around any storms that may be coming.
- Be well rested and alert.
- Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.
- Follow the rules of the road and use caution in work zones.
- Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
If You’re Flying: Tips to De-Stress Your Trip
Again, planning is key if you are flying anywhere at this time of year. Ideally, you would have planned your travel early and taken advantage of cheaper flights (setting up social media notifications for airlines and travel websites is a great idea). However, if you didn’t plan well in advance, fear not, following are some tips from the Travel Channel that may help you de-stress your trip.
Forget the bags: if possible, pack light and carry on your back to avoid fees for checked bags. Keep in mind that others may do the same.
Travel light: Consider shipping some of your bulkier items (like presents, extra clothes, diapers) to your final destination ahead of time. Of course, make sure you bring vital items (medicines, etc.)
Choose the best travel days: Much like for driving, the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, closely followed by the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you can, avoid these days by flying out on Monday or even on Thanksgiving morning, and adjust your departure to avoid Sunday travel (e.g, leave Friday or Monday).
Get an early start: Allow ample time to get to the airport and park, get through security, etc. Grab coffee wherever you are staying to avoid the lines at the airport coffee shop!
Use technology: Make sure that you have downloaded the app for your airline so you can check in, confirm your seats, check gates, and get updates on your flight status. Just because you are flying doesn’t mean you can totally avoid traffic. Apps like Waze can help you plan the best route to the airport and estimate your travel time.
If You’re Hosting: Prep Tips to Keep You on Target
If you’re not flying or driving, you may be hosting and you have your work cut out for you! Again, sufficient planning can take all the stress out of the big day.
Make up your guest list: Get an idea of how many people will be attending ahead of time and factor in how many children you will have.
Plan your menu: If you’re not fortunate enough to have your Thanksgiving meal catered, plan your meal well in advance. There are no shortage of websites to visit to find new, easy, and interesting recipes. Factor in things like the number of children (have menu items that will appeal to them, other than just dessert), any dietary restrictions, tailor your menu to your audience (e.g., traditional, adventurous, a mix). Try something new each year and research recipes well in advance so that you have the correct ingredients.
Many hands make light work: Enlist help from your guests. Most guests want to be helpful and bring something! Be thoughtful in what you tell them instead of leaving it open-ended so that you don’t get duplicates of the same items. If they have a specialty, have them bring that, or a dessert, or a bottle of wine. They’ll feel better for not showing up empty handed and that will be one more item off of your plate.
Plan your table: Make sure that you have your table mapped out so that you have ample seating and table space. See if there is anything you need to borrow (e.g., chairs, extra tables, serving dishes), or have your guests bring, ahead of time. It’s also a good time to make sure that you have all of the cookware, utensils, serving spoons, etc. that you will and that things you were counting on using haven’t disappeared in the past year. I can tell you from experience how hard it is to find a turkey baster on Thanksgiving!
Start cleaning and decorating: Break the cleaning process down into manageable parts and make sure you enlist the help of family members to lighten the load.
Try to enjoy yourself! With all the cleaning, preparation, cooking, and entertaining, it all goes by so fast. Make sure to take time to catch up with family members and enjoy the day. There’s plenty of time for cleaning the following day!
Wherever your travels find you, please travel safely and enjoy your Thanksgiving with friends and family!