If I had to give you one piece of advice when it comes to traveling at Christmas, I’d say “expect the unexpected.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a pessimistic mindset, it simply means that I’ve traveled enough to realize that things don’t always go the way you’ve planned.
It’s much easier to deal with the hitches and setbacks if you’ve planned for them, or at least thought through a few “what ifs?” Today I’ll share 5 tips to help keep you sane if you plan to be traveling this Christmas.
1. If you’re driving, have your vehicle inspected before making a long trip. At the very least, consider purchasing AAA or a similar roadside assistance program.
If you’ve ever had car problems and have been stranded alongside the road you know how frustrating or terrifying that can be. For peace of mind, I suggest having your vehicle inspected, the tires checked, and fluids topped off prior to traveling.
I also recommend that you carry a good spare with you. And make sure you can access it easily. If your spare is tucked up under the vehicle, and you haven’t needed it for awhile, take a minute to lower it and make sure that you can get to it. The mechanisms are known to have problems on some vehicles and it won’t do you any good to have a spare you can’t use. Just ask me how I know.
My family also now has AAA. We didn’t think we needed it until I was stuck in Nashville last year after I locked my keys in the car. Do you know how expensive a locksmith can be?
2. Keep a bit of money back for emergencies.
We are a cash only family. We don’t have one credit card, so planning ahead is extremely important! For the past two years while traveling to Ohio from Alabama for Christmas, we experienced at least one unexpected expense per trip.
One year we ran into a terrible ice storm and had to rent a hotel room for the night. That was a $100 expense that we hadn’t bargained for. Another year, our transmission went out on our vehicle and we had to rent a car to get home. Let me tell ya, one way rentals are not cheap!
3. Keep a stash of “emergency” gear in your car.
My grandmother had a list of items that she always carried in the car when traveling, growing up, I thought she was crazy, but now I see the benefit of each item.
After my child suddenly vomited in the car while traveling to Virginia, I’ve learned to keep paper bags, a wet washcloth in a bag (or wet wipes), paper towels, a jug of water to drink or clean up messes, a cup, crackers, small first aid kit, toilet paper (you just never know), and a small trash bag. In cooler weather, I also make sure we have a couple blankets.
4. Allow extra travel time.
Nothing stresses me out more than running behind. I like to be punctual. If you’re traveling at Christmas, make sure you plenty of allow extra time for heavy traffic, bad weather or traffic snafu’s.
5. Keep the kids occupied.
Even though my kids are teenagers, it doesn’t take much to start WWIII in the back seats. Before we leave the house, I make sure they double check that they have their iPods, favorite DVD (Redbox is great for swapping movies along the road), books on CD, or hand held games. After all, I’m happy when they’re happy.
Above all, remember to be patient with your fellow travelers. You aren’t the only one that wants to reach their destination before Christmas Day!
What tips have you learned that allow you to stay sane while traveling at Christmas?
Are you just joining me for the 5 Days of Christmas series? You can check out 5 Christmas Light Displays Worth the Drive- and tell me your favorite light display and be sure to stop back tomorrow for more Christmas travel tips!
Please take a minute to visit these great bloggers that are also joining the 5 Days of Christmas series.
A Slob Comes Clean - Getting Your Home Company Ready
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Spell Outloud - Children's Books
Mama's Learning Corner - Children's Crafts
Many Little Blessings - Edible Gifts
Sunflower Schoolhouse – Decorations
An Oregon Cottage - Christmas Cookies
Catholic Icing - Wishing Jesus Happy Birthday
The Homeschool Classroom - Gifts Kids Can Make
Mama's Laundry Talk - Laundry Gifts
Successful Homeschooling - Serving