As they do every year, millions of Americans will travel for the holidays. While most experts offer thoughtful advice about the stress air travel during holidays, not everyone needs or wants to fly — especially with the price of gasoline reducing driving costs to their lowest levels since 2009!
To get your family ready to head over the hills and through the woods, here’s our holiday travel checklist to help spend quality time away from home with as little stress as possible.
1) Make a Checklist for Your Home
Before you do anything else, create a list of the specific tasks you must do before you leave your home for a long trip. These should include:
- Paying bills (though modern auto pay takes care of this one, nicely)
- Having your local US Post Office hold your mail
- Arranging to have your pet boarded or cared for by friends or family
- Removing snow and ice so your roof and yard are cleared
- Arranging for a neighbor or friend to watch your home
- Alerting your local police you will be out of town
You’ll also want to work out a menu with your family so you eat the perishable items in your fridge before you leave. This prevents you from coming home to something vile taking over your kitchen.
2) Dress for Destination’s Weather
You’ll be more comfortable if you dress for where you’re going. If you’re heading to sun-splashed, sugar-sand beaches, then you’ll want cool, airy clothing. If you’re heading to snow-blanketed slopes, you’ll want to dress warmly with wicking layers. Find out the weather forecast of your destination in advance and pack your clothing accordingly.
If you are traveling from a cold place to a warm place, it’s easiest to dress in removable layers. For example, women can combine shorts or skirts with tights that they can remove in warmer surroundings. Men can wear a thermal wicking shirt under a sweater that they can also remove. A little planning will take you a long way in comfort and style.
3) Pack Extra Medication
Make sure you bring any and all medication your family will need during your trip and in the correct amount. In the case of some medications, you may need to carry copies of your prescriptions for controlled substances to prove they have been legally prescribed to you.
Keep your medications packed in easy reach, such as on carry-on luggage or overnight bags. It’s also wise to keep all medicines in a labeled container when traveling.
4) Organize Your Travel Documents
Make sure you have copies of any reservations, tickets, insurance, and pet veterinary information (if your pet is coming with) with you – either printed or electronically (and having both is not a bad idea, either).
In the event there’s a problem with a booking or if you’ve purchased tickets to an attraction online, carrying copies of that information can save you a lot of headaches.
If you are traveling outside the US, be sure your ID and US passport are up to date.
5) Load Up the Devices
Sure, traveling takes time, but you’ll probably also have some downtime once your reach your destination. To keep yourself and the kids mind occupied, load up your handheld devices with games, music, movies, and audio books.
If you’re traveling by car with children, audiobooks can make the miles fly by, so pick a few titles you and your children can enjoy.
Also remember to exercise caution with them at your destination — electronic devices are valuable items, and they can keep valuable information on them.
6) Cold Weather “Just-In-Case” Kit
Even with the above-average winter temperatures this year across much of the northern United States, it’s a good idea to be ready for bad winter weather.
- When snow and ice moves in, you need to dress properly in layers.
- Wear thermal underwear, gloves, and jackets that wick moisture away from your skin.
- Wear a warm hat.
- Wear boots with good tread (to keep you from slipping) and have a temperature rating (to keep your feet warm and dry).
- Keep your cellphone charged and keep a list of emergency phone numbers with you.
- Allow extra time to get to your destination and take along a shovel, a bag of sand, snacks, and a few blankets in the event your vehicle gets stuck.
Traveling for the holidays should be an exercise in getting ready to enjoy special time with family and friends – NOT worrying about your home or stressing out about safety. We hope our holiday travel checklist will help you prepare for nearly every eventuality.