Saturday, October 4, 2014

31 Days to a Peaceful Holiday Season: Traveling

Welcome to Almond Place! This month, I'm participating in the Write 31 Days and focusing on ways to make our holiday season a little calmer this year.  Each of these daily posts can be found HERE if you'd like to go back to the beginning and read them all.

I mentioned in an earlier post that our little family doesn't typically travel over the holidays.  When Jim and I got married, we decided very early on what we wanted our holidays as our new family unit to look like.  We put a lot of time and thought and prayer into our decision and ultimately decided that we would prefer to spend major holidays in our own home.  This is not to say that we won't ever travel....we spent Christmas 2011 at my Inlaws....but as a general rule, we just don't.

That being said...I know MANY of you are traveling to various locations for Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas...maybe even all three!  Or maybe you've got a kiddo in university who needs a ticket home.  It's pretty customary for US college kids to come home for Thanksgiving AND Christmas...this was NOT something that was done very often in Canada unless you were within driving distance! 

So NOW is the time to get that travel booked.  These holidays are EXPENSIVE.Weather is unpredictable.  You, your kids and every Aunt Susie on the planet are all traveling on the busiest days of the year.  It takes patience and planning!

If you haven't thought about how you're getting where yet, today is the day!

My favorite site for searching for travel is Orbitz.  I honestly have the best luck with them, particularly when we are traveling internationally.  We love Southwest Airlines for domestic travel as well. 
The Hubs loves Kayak

I find it's best to start checking these sites regularly.  Prices can change pretty dramatically over the course of a single day, let alone over a few days.  

Here are some tips I have for planning the travel with kiddos:  
  • Plan some buffer time...if your kids start school on Monday, don't book the last flight out on Sunday night.  
  • If you have connecting flights, make sure you leave time in between flights to actually get everyone comfortably off the plane, have a bathroom break and eat something. For little kids, letting them have a few minutes to run around an empty gate can be a life saver before a long flight.
  • In an effort to avoid bringing every piece of gear, see if you can borrow car seats or purchase cheap alternatives to have on hand at your location.  We are fortunate to have found a great deal on boosters for the kids to leave at my parents' house. The extra bit of $ we spent on them saves my sanity when we are trying to go through customs with all of our luggage.
  • Plan snacks and extra little new gifts.  Download some new apps, movies, etc if they have a device to use in route.
Normally, when we are traveling to Missouri, we drive.  It's not that far and now that the kids are older, it makes it a little easier.  Driving takes longer but we are starting to enjoy it more.  It adds a few extra elements to consider....

  • Plan your stops sooner than you think you need to.  
  • I mapped out our trip so I knew approximately how much it would cost to fill the car and set our budget a little higher leading up to the trip so we could be prepared to have that money in cash.
  • I recommend hotels...we always either hit the Super 8, or La Quinta. We travel with our small dog and they both take pets.  When we are driving, I try to figure out 3 locations each day....the early stop if we've had enough, the goal stop in our ideal location, and the late stop in the event we make it farther than we planned.
  • For the kids, I planned lots of individualized snack bags. Nothing drives me crazier than having to turn around every 5 seconds to answer the "I'm hungry, I'm thirsty" howl from the back seat.  By making them gallon sized snack bags, they were able to open, select, and eat what they wanted.  I felt like this bought us a ton of time during the ride. 
I hope some of these tips help!  I feel like I could write a novel about this!  If you have any questions about how we travel domestically by plane, internationally by plane, or in the car, feel free to drop me an email from the link on the right, or leave a comment!

Let's help make this year's travel smooth sailing!

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