The holiday season brings family, fun and traditions for many. While in some ways it can seem like a magical time, it can also bring stress — especially for those who have to travel to be with loved ones.
When I was a child, my family was the only one that had moved away from our hometown so we were always the ones who had to travel for holiday celebrations. We’d leave our home early in the morning on Christmas Eve, spend about three hours in the car, celebrate and have dinner for most of the day and try to make it back on the road by a reasonable time. As a little kid, I’d keep my eyes on the clock and start tugging on my mom’s shirt around 7-8 p.m., so we could go home and I could be in bed by the time Santa Claus came.
As adults, the stress of holiday travel is based on a little more than worrying about Santa’s arrival. Schedules, travel costs and heavy traffic can seem to suck all the joy out of the season. But in the grand scheme of your holiday plans, these are minor issues that can be rectified with a little planning.
Whether you’re spending the night at your holiday destination or just going for a few hours, packing early and light can save a lot of time and anxiety, according to USA Today. In the week leading up to the holiday, make sure you and your family members start packing their things a little at a time so everyone isn’t up preparing all of the night before. If you are transporting gifts, have them gathered together ahead of time and keep a place set aside in the car for them.
If you’re traveling with kids, have things in the car to keep them entertained through traffic jams and long treks on the highway. Small toys, snacks and coloring books, according to USA Today, can help de-stress a traffic jam.
While planning is important, it’s also helpful to allow time for changes to those plans. During a holiday celebration with family or friends, there are bound to be some deviations from schedule — like a delay in dinner or an impromptu storytelling or gift exchange. Part of spending your holiday with others is enjoying the spontaneous aspects of celebration. So instead of having a rigid travel schedule in place, try basing your travel on windows so these moments don’t ruin your plans.
When it comes to dealing with the heavy traffic and winter weather that comes with the holidays, check out some past columns on winter weather driving, traffic jams and road rage in order to stay calm behind the wheel and focus on spending the holidays with those you love.
You Asked, We Found Out
Q: Should I be open to commuting to a location with which I am unfamiliar?
A: Yes, but you should prepare. It helps to take a day and travel to the location of the job you’re considering and drive around to familiarize yourself with the area and routes of travel.
Submit your weekly commuter questions to Clarissa Cottrill at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Clarissa_RC_519 by Wednesday at 5 p.m. Check out a weekly traffic report with the column on Page B1 of every Sunday edition of The Journal.