1. Make a list. Be sure to gather up everything you will need for your trip a few days ahead of time. You don't want to forget anything when you leave the house. Include things like presents, clothes, snow pants and gloves if you are going somewhere cold, ski equipment, golf clubs, etc. Whatever it is that you will need, add it to your list. Get the kids involved with the list, too, to build enthusiasm for the trip. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination and not have what you need.
2. Get a room. If you are going for an overnight stay and are not staying with relatives, be sure to reserve a hotel room as far in advance as possible. Rooms fill up quickly this time of year, and you don't want to be left without a place to stay. If you book before you leave, it also allows you to research the hotels and find a place that fits your family's needs.
3. Give yourself extra time. There is always a lot more traffic during the holidays. More cars on the road means the potential for more delays due to accidents, lines at toll booths, traffic jams, etc. The weather also can change quickly and slow down travel dramatically. Be sure to give yourself some extra time while traveling to be sure that you are able to arrive at your destination safely and on time.
4 Take Entertainment. Nothing stresses out adults faster than kids in the backseat with nothing to do. Be prepared with things to keep them occupied while traveling and still engaged with the trip. I recommend my new book Are We There Yet?, which contains over a hundred different games and activities that are sure to pass the time in a fun way. (Here are a few to get you started!) You might also want to take a deck of cards or a few CDs of your favorite songs to listen to. Like to sing Christmas carols? Why not do a sing-a-long? You can turn a necessary journey into a memorable road trip.
5. Make a surprise stop. If your trip will take more than an hour or so, surprise your kids with an unexpected stop somewhere. This could be a special restaurant that they like, or a toy store, or a roadside attraction. Use this stop to break up the monotony of traveling and add an element of holiday fun. If you're stopping at a store, why not allow the kids to purchase one item for the people you are going to see? Getting them involved helps them stay excited about the trip and gives them something to talk about for a short time after the stop.
One of the biggest things you can do to keep trips stress-free is to just be prepared. If you are flying, be sure to check the airline's rules about what you can and cannot take on the plane. Be sure to check the security guidelines as well. If you are driving, get your car checked. Change the oil, check the air pressure in the tires, and fill up the tank. The holidays should be a fun and exciting time. With a little planning, your trip can be as fun and exciting as everything else you have going on this holiday season.
Jeff Sechler has been traveling since he was a little kid. He enjoys taking trips to various locations and viewing the sights and sounds of new areas. Not that he is married and has a family of his own, he loves to travel and take road trips with his family.
While traveling when he was growing up - before DVD players and MP3 players were found in every vehicle - he had to find ways to pass the time on the road. How’d he do it? By playing games. These experiences, along with the memories and suggestions of family and friends, led Jeff to publish his new book, Are We There Yet? (also available for Kindle), which encourages having fun in the car instead of simply plugging in to an electronic device. The book includes over 140 games, riddles and tongue twisters that are sure to have you laughing out loud. No materials – other than a pen and paper – are required to play these games. They are simple and can be played by people of all ages.
Jeff's travels have taken him all across the country and he continues to write down his stories in hopes of someday sharing them with the rest of the world. He currently makes his home in Pennsylvania where he splits his time between his full-time job, writing, traveling and family – many times combining several of these at once.