Holiday Travel Secrets: Keeping it Stress-free and safe this season

Holiday Travel Secrets: Keeping it Stress-free and safe this season

Hey all! Our family usually stays home for the holidays, but every once in awhile we will take Christmas on the road. Traveling during this time of year adds an extra layer of stress, but the good news is you can minimize this by being mindful and planning ahead. So whether you are going solo or embarking on an adventure with your partner and kids, here are my best secrets for smooth traveling.

Stay Healthy & Safe

We all know the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Whether you are flying, taking the train, or driving, you will probably come into contact with surfaces that could get you sick. Washing your hands is definitely best, but hand sanitizer is a great pinch hitter in situations where you can’t use soap and water. Also please don’t be afraid to mask-up on the plane or train. Even wearing for 80% of your trip can help reduce your risk of getting sick, and even if its not a big deal if you get a cold, you definitely don’t want to be sharing germs with loved ones at your destination.

When we travel I always make sure to have both Emergen-C powder and Airborne tablets on hand. They are easy to pack and full of vitamins and minerals that support your immune system. There are other brands with similar ingredients, but these two have been on my go-to list since way back during Nate’s football days.

For those who are driving, in addition to making sure you have a killer playlist ready, also take a few minutes to be prepared for some common roadside problems. Be mindful of all of the extra traffic on the road and also the weather. Don’t get caught on empty, make sure you have a full tank of gas when you leave. I also take special care to ensure a car emergency kit is packed in the car and that we have some water and snacks. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so you are not in a rush, and try not to drive too long at night, when more accidents happen.

Pack Santa’s Workshop

Chances are you will need to bring some gifts with you on your travels. I remember years back the first time we had to travel I had the brilliant idea to do all of my wrapping at home before we left. And you guessed it- all of my hard work was wasted because all of my pretty bows, careful wrapping, and even the labels/tags were messed up.

Now I’ve learned to carefully pack gifts unwrapped, usually in my luggage. I also pack tissue paper, gift bags, labels, and fancy pens so that I can put everything together when we arrive. And while you are shopping, don’t forget your host/hostess. I always bring a box of chocolates, a fancy candle, or a bottle of wine!

Don’t Delay – Get There Early 

There are times of the year when you can take your time or even afford to run a few minutes late. The holidays are just not one of them! Airports are busier, flights are full, weather can impact schedules and conditions, and people can just be a little more stressed out. My advice is to get to the airport early if you are flying- especially if you have a connection or are flying internationally. This will help you not feel stressed if the security lines are super long (even if you have TSA Pre-Check or another expedited security clearance). Also, double check that your TSA Pre-check status is on your ticket/boarding pass, because if its not there you won’t get to use it!

Clear recently began offering a completely free “Spot Saver” service that allows you to reserve a 20-minute window for TSA entry. This means that even if you don’t have pre-check you can skip the general line. Check out the link here to see which airports offer Spot Saver. And remember, being early to the airport isn’t always a bad thing. You can grab yourself a drink or a new magazine to enjoy before take off.

And if you are driving, the same advice applies. Depending on the distance/traffic, try to give yourself an extra 30-60 minute buffer. If you have a multi-day trip, make sure your driving plans are realistic and don’t over-do it. If you arrive early- don’t show up before the time time you are invited for! Grab a snack or a coffee and decompress and don’t be “that guest” who shows up while the host is still in the shower.

Prepare and Organize 

Locate everyone’s passports/ID’s as soon as you know you are traveling, and check to make sure that expiration dates are all good. If you’re interested, a family organizer keeps everything in one space. It can take 7-8 weeks sometimes for expedited passport service if you need to renew- so you definitely want as much notice as possible. If you have everything organized well before you leave, you will eliminate the chances of a frantic search the morning of your flight.

I also like to save my trip itineraries to my calendar for easy access while traveling. You can easily share calendar invites with your travel companions or people that you will be visiting. Also be sure to plan for and pre-pack your carryon with whatever you need to make your travel comfortable. I never fly without a blanket! And lots of people bring a neck pillow, eye mask, or even ear plugs. If you want a great travel blanket option, check out this one on Amazon.

The other thing I always do is make arrangements to take care of the house. Nothing spoils a trip faster than a phone call from a neighbor about an emergency when you are thousands of miles away.

Charge, Charge, Charge

Charge Everything! Airpods, phones, ipads, plug in all the devices you may need for you and your kiddos so that you don’t have to hear the dreaded, Mom… I’m bored!” And don’t forget to pack your chargers for the trip (I always do this!). A lot of planes have outlets these days, and there are car chargers too, but if you get in a pinch a portable charger is a great tool to bring along.

A long plane ride or drive is a great time to catch up on your favorite show. I also like to make sure I have some options pre-downloaded to my device because you never know when the plane wi-fi will be working or not. And let’s not forget the good old-fashioned paperback novel. Reading great book in print is a rare treat these days in our increasingly digital world.

If you want to use the in-flight entertainment, you should know that this exists! The Airfly is like an auxiliary to bluetooth converter that works on the headphone jack in the airplane seat. It transmits the audio from what you are watching or listening to on the plane to your bluetooth headphones. No more recycled airline head phones, or having to tote around a wired pair!

I hope that these tips help if you are hitting the road this holiday. Wherever you roam this holiday season, I hope that you have a peaceful journey. Whether you are going solo, or spending the holidays with a hundred family members, please do not forget the reason for the season. Be tranquil and calm on the inside and bring light and love to those you meet. Don’t assume you know what anyone else is facing, and give all the grace, just as we have been blessed with grace this holiday season and always.

With love,


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