holiday travel hacks

Today’s guest post comes just in time for the brutal Christmas holiday travels you are about to endure next week. Here are 6 key things to keep in mind before you get on that plane, train, bus, or in the car to visit your family – from Jennifer Scott: 

Holiday traveling is the stuff that nightmares are made of…if you’re a pessimist, that is. If you’re an optimist, on the other hand, busy, chaotic holiday travel is a perfect opportunity to have a little fun and enjoy the ride – literally.

Whether you’re an eternal optimist looking for some fun ways to spice up a long journey this holiday season or a stressed-out parent riddled with anxiety over the potential tantrums your kids might have in a (very) public space in the next few weeks, these tips will help you create the most memorable (and enjoyable) holiday travel experience of your life.

Stock Up on Snacks. Lots of Snacks.

Yep, snacks are a must. Diet or no diet, there are plenty of appetizing, portable eats that can calm your nerves or at least give you something to do if you’re forced to spend a few idle hours waiting in an airport or riding in a car. And if you prefer a special kind of creamer or milk for your caffeine fix, make sure you bring an ample supply. Of course, if you’re traveling by air, your options are a bit more limited, but do what you can to keep yourself fueled to avoid any “hangriness” among your travel companions.

Download Some Useful Apps in Advance.

There are a variety of fun, entertaining, and even useful apps to help you find what you need and pass the time while you’re traveling over the holidays. But make sure to download them before you go – you know, while you’re on Wi-Fi and not burning up your precious data – so there’s no waiting for an app to download when you need an instant distraction during your journey.

Plan Some Quality Time…Apart.

The whole point of traveling together over the holidays is to spend tons of quality time with family and friends. But too many people who aren’t used to living under the same roof suddenly sparring over shower time can quickly lead to rising tensions. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan not only for quality time with your loved ones, but ample time for everyone to have their own space so your family members are slightly less inclined to have an impromptu fist fight over the turkey.

Skip Staying with Relatives and Make It a Mini-Vacation.

Because there are fewer business travelers, it might be possible to book a posh hotel on the cheap over the holidays. So if staying with your Aunt Susan and her obnoxious teenagers isn’t the most fun-filled way to spend a holiday, turn it into a mini-adventure and stay in a hotel, B&B, or vacation rental home instead of with family. Probably a good idea to pick a lodging option within a reasonable distance of your family so you can still make an appearance at family gatherings, unless of course you’re going for the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder effect.

Don’t Sweat Layovers.

If you’re flying to your destination this holiday season and your journey involves a connecting flight or two, a lengthy layover could be in your future. Typically, layovers – especially unexpected layovers – are a source of massive frustration for travelers. But here’s the good news: Airports can be a whole lot of fun these days, with fancy restaurants, classy shops, and even day spa services. Make the most of whatever time you end up hanging around an airport by making it part of your adventure.

Don’t be a stick in the mud when it comes to holiday travel. It’s all part of the fun, with every misstep an opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime. Planning only goes so far. With a go-with-the-flow attitude and a willingness to think outside the normal holiday rules (that you likely impose on yourself), holiday travel can be something to look forward to each year.

If You’re Travelling with Kids, Keep them Entertained.

Traveling with kids is a challenge all on its own, but with a lighthearted attitude you can make it fun for everyone. Silly games, such as scavenger hunts or license-plate “I Spy” games, sing-a-longs, and story time sessions can pass the time and distract antsy passengers from the fact that you won’t be “there yet” for at least six more hours.

If you’re flying, be sure to bring plenty of distractions. Books, a tablet loaded with kid games and apps, and DVDs all serve as great ways to keep little ones entertained on long flights. You might also bring along their favorite blanket and a pillow so that they can take a nap when they’re ready for a rest. Just be sure the carry-on you pack all these distractions in meets the luggage size requirements set by your airline.

Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website,, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.