As if the holidays aren't stressful enough, this is also the time of year when most of us travel more than we do the entire rest of the year. To make matters worse, this is also the busiest travel weekend of the year. We've rounded up some helpful tips to make going over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house a little easier.
Whether you're traveling by air, car or rail, being prepared before your journey is a huge help. But, hey, that's what we're here for!
BE PREPARED: Naturally, planning ahead before you set off on your travels will help ensure a smooth journey. You may not be able to avoid crazy airports and crowded highways, but being prepared can take some of the turbulence out of the trip.
• Earlier this year Janel put together a handy guide for prepping for a trip. Don't Forget: Checklist for Making the Perfect Getaway includes such tips as setting up your lights on a timer, moving your car to the non-street sweeping side of the street, and turning off your alarm clock.
• Using technology to its fullest can make travel so much easier. Over on Unplggd, our tech site, Laura rounded up her Favorite iOS, Android & WP7 Apps for Organizing Travel. From planning your trip to getting there, this post will help you make the most of technology in your travels.
• Guerrin and Mat pulled together a bunch of great tips in their post Survival Tips: Heading Home for the Holidays — including watching what you eat in the air and on the road and planning out your schedule.
• There's really no need to take along everything but the kitchen sink. Before you pack, check out this useful post — Travel Lightly: Our 5 Best Packing Tips.
• Make sure you fully charge your phone, laptop and other electronic devices before hitting the road.
TRAVELING BY AIR: Every year some poor news reporter is set up outside a windy and cold airport termainal to remind us that it's the busiest travel weekend of the year. It's going to be crowded, people are going to be stressed, and tensions may be high.
• If you haven't flown in awhile, take a look at the Prohibited Items list on the TSA website. You can include just about anything in your checked luggage but don't even think about taking much in your carry-on.
• Before you set off to the airport, make sure you have everything you'll need to make it through security. This includes your ID and travel documents.
• Be prepared to take off your shoes, coat, jackets, and blazer at the security checkpoint.
• While we're on the subject of dressing, limit the amount of metal on your person. It'll save you time at the security check-point if you don't have to remove a bunch of metal articles.
• Do not take wrapped gifts to the airport. You'll just have to unwrap it for security. Wrap gifts at your destination or ship them in advance.
• If you're taking your four legged friend along for the family fun fest, check out this helpful post — Pets on a Plane: Things to Know Before You Travel.
TRAVELING BY CAR: Hitting the open road may not be as stressful as flying, but there are still ways to make it a little easier.
• Map out your route with Google Maps or MapQuest. You can send the directions directly to your phone but I'm a big fan of printing them because they're a little easier to read.
• Road emergencies happen. Check out this post — Travel Tip: Pack a Green Car Kit For Road Trips — to help prepare for the unexpected.
• Not that we're saying you have a lead foot or anything but do keep in mind that police and highway patrol will be out in bigger numbers this weekend. Let up on the gas pedal a little and, of course, don't drink and drive.
• Your aunt Betty may drive you batty, so take along Rover to soothe your nerves. In Escape: Road Tripping with Your Pet you'll find tips on pet pitstops and other animal travel tips.
• If you're not exactly burning rubber to get to your family's house, take a detour along the way. This year we rounded up United States of Design Road Trips by region: South, Northeast, and Midwest.
TRAVELING BY RAIL: With rising air fares and stringent airport security, train travel has become increasingly popular.
• Similar to the TSA's restrictions on air travel, Amtrak has travel and security rules too. The rules aren't nearly as restrictive as those for air travel, but it's worth familiarizing yourself with them.
• Those dining cars don't always offer the best options so pack along a snack.
• Train travel can be slow and delays are not uncommon. Pack some entertainment for yourself (and the kids) to keep boredom at bay.