Our family is well versed in holiday travel. In fact, we just prepared a last minute 10-hour road trip to see my husband’s family in Mississippi for Thanksgiving.
Travel during the holidays, if you’re like us, is sometimes inevitable. Whether it’s a road trip or flight, holiday travel can be expensive and stressful.
Peak travel days vary per holiday. If at possible, you want to avoid them, but sometimes that’s not possible, and that’s OK!
There are some things you can do to help eliminate both the stress and the expense of holiday travel!
The holidays are a time meant to spend with family and friends, a time to create memories, a time to feel at peace with gratitude for your blessings from the previous year.
I hope these pro tips for surviving holiday travel will help you take on the holiday season with confidence, and enjoy your trips!
5 Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel
1. Cut gas costs by using apps and filling up in states with cheaper gas.
Our family has used the Gas Buddy app to find the cheapest places to fill up along the way. Sometimes larger “one-shop-stop” gas stations will also offer more affordable gas.
If you are traveling through several states, make sure you fill up in the states with the cheapest gas. Our family lives in North Carolina, but we always fill up in South Carolina because the gas is so much more affordable!
2. Stay with friends along the way.
Not only does staying with friends save you money, but it’s also a fun way to catch up! Our family visits my husband’s side of the family in Mississippi once or twice every year. We have good friends in both Atlanta and Nashville, so we will almost always plan our routes to stay with these friends along the way—either coming or going. While we do still sometimes stay in hotels, staying with friends has saved us hundreds of dollars in hotel fees and the cost of a few meals too (just don’t forget to help with the dishes).
3. Pack plenty of activities for your kids.
Long road trips and flights can be tedious for young children. Be sure to pack plenty of games, books, activities, and small toys to keep their attention and minimize the whining. Sure, we didn’t have the ability to watch movies, etc. when we were growing up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the ease of it now.
Our kids love playing the “water tower” game. We look for water towers along our road trips, and the first person to call out “Water Tower!” when he or she sees one gets a point. The person with the most points at the end of the trip wins the game!
4. Buy tickets at the right time.
The cost of plane tickets varies, but I’ve noticed tickets are usually cheapest three to six weeks before the travel date. If you wait until the last minute to secure tickets, you’re going to pay a premium price. I did a little research to see how much it would have cost us to fly to Mississippi for Thanksgiving if we purchased tickets the day before departure. It would have cost us more than $5,000 and that is with our youngest being a lap baby (so we would have only bought 5 tickets!). If you want to fly, it is an absolute must that you plan ahead and purchase tickets early.
5. Organize snacks.
Trips can often feel like a free-for-all when it comes to food. To make snacks last as long as possible, it’s important to make a plan. You can designate certain snack breaks—just like you would at home. Or, you can do what we like to do—give each kid a reusable snack bag. When I’m preparing snacks for each child, I simply put the pretzels, etc. in their own snack bags, zip them up, and then toss them into the back of the van, to that child. This reduces sibling squabbles and reduces mess!
What are your best tips for surviving holiday travel?