Holiday Travel Tips: Airports, Airlines & Car Trips, Oh My!

By Melanie Nayer

kids-carIt’s that time of year… Chestnuts are roasting, turkeys are stuffing, waistlines are expanding, and travelers all around the world are practicing their best meditation techniques in preparation for the chaos that always ensues on the busiest travel day of the year.  It’s Thanksgiving, and families around the country are traveling to be with one another around the dinner table.

Whether you’re heading to Grandma’s house in the family car or heading across country at 35,000-feet up, Thanksgiving travel is a test of strength for even the most emotionally stable women. Long lines at the airport, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway, and the inevitable meltdown midway at the worst time possible from your little one are just a few things that will kick you off your groove.

Never fear, fearless travelers: Take these tips into consideration before embarking on your holiday travel and you’ll maneuver the madness like a pro.

Plan ahead. The biggest mistake rookie travelers make is not planning their route ahead of time. A well-prepped plan is your key to on-time arrival. If you’re driving to Thanksgiving dinner, AAA suggests adding at least an hour to your travel time. Planning on a plane ride? Forget the general one-hour-before-your-flight-rule: Get to the airport at least two hours early. Traveling with kids? Add on 10 minutes per child. Hint: At many airports around the nation, new family lanes are available at airport security lines. These lines are specifically for families needing a little extra time getting through the gates, so take advantage of this option and most importantly – take your time! Remember, every stroller, BabyBjörn’s and travel game will have to go through security – if you rush the process you could forget something!

The game plan. Organization is not uncommon to the single woman’s daily rituals, but having a game plan in place for Thanksgiving travel can mean the difference between a quiet car ride and complete meltdown. Plan an activity for various points of your travel. For example, the first hour of travel is dedicated to books, the second hour is game time, the third hour is quiet time, and so on…

Keep the kids involved. Give each one of your little traveler’s a task. Whether it’s choosing their own travel toy or DVD for the car ride or flight, or allowing your kids to be part of the packing process, a little involvement goes a long way. When it comes to leave for your early morning flight or car ride, your kids will be a little more excited to get going knowing they’ve played a part in the process.

Inspiration at 35,000-feet. The rules of air travel are different than they were when we were kids, but there’s still room for a little inspiration. Thanksgiving travel is stressful, but if you ask nicely it’s likely you can get a quick chat with the pilot before the flight. Sitting in the cockpit of a 747 is a surreal experience at any age, and it will give your kids something to talk about during the flight!

Other SMW Escapes Articles
Beating the Single-Supplement Fee
THe Hidden Cost of Air Travel

What to Do if You Miss Your Flight