It’s vacation time. The destination is booked; perhaps yours is a quaint cottage on the coast, a long-haul road trip cross-country, or a camping adventure in the mountains. The travel plans are sorted; trains, planes, and automobiles all worked out. All that remains is the unenviable task of rallying the troops and hoping for a journey that’s free of hiccups and full of good vibes. Just the thought of setting off for your much-anticipated trip with family, friends, and pets can test even the most patient of travelers. All too quickly your mind can spin into overdrive juggling plans of what to take (don’t forget the essentials!), and how to keep everyone entertained during the journey to your destination (let’s avoid a re-run of last year’s temper tantrum, shall we?) This all can add to the underlying sense of responsibility and feeling that only the perfect plan will do.
Help is at hand. With just a little forward planning – some of which involves getting your fellow travelers to help lighten the load – the task of pulling together the perfect itinerary can become enjoyable and even stress-free.
First, set aside some time to sketch out a ‘masterplan’ of your own. Choose a time when you’ll be able to sit without being disturbed; which might mean putting something else off for a while, or even better, delegating duties! Consider it necessary to carve out this quality thinking time to save hassle and stress – for all travelers – down the road. All you need is a notebook, a comfy seat, some relaxing tunes, and perhaps a refreshing tea to help get your planning brain in gear.
Start by jotting down a timeline of events, transportation, and locations involved in getting your gang from A to B: taxi to downtown, airport layovers, planned pitstop to visit Aunt Anne…Then, estimate how much time each will take – this will really help you to think about what you’ll need for each part of the journey. A four-hour flight will take more forethought than a 20 minute shuttle ride from the terminal to your hotel. Likewise, driving across borders or state lines will require more supplies that a train ride to the next town. Add to these notes along with the names of everyone involved – pets and all! – and you have the starter plan, or ‘travel pack’, to which you can start to add the essentials and, essentially, a baton to hand over to the gang to play their part!
Get your travel companions involved early to ensure you have plenty of time to build your plan, asking everyone to contribute their ideas. Keeping things as simple as possible is key: lay down the challenge of covering the basics with a minimal wish-list to save lugging lots of gear around.
Here are some suggestions for simple strategies and ideas for things to include:
Keeping it Fun
Games are a great way to pass the time during long journeys. Pack a deck of playing cards, a pad of paper for Mad Libs, or a book of word games like crossword puzzles. Even a fun mix tape for sing-a-longs or initiating a round of “I-Spy” will do the trick in keeping your gang entertained. Task each traveler to come up with a game to play to ensure there are endless options for fun little opportunity for boredom to creep in.
Happy Tummies, Happy Holidays
An empty, grumbly tummy is a quick way to halt the fun.
A steady supply of snacks is essential to avoid the dreaded rumble of tums: nuts and dried fruits are perfect as they can be easily packed without taking up lots of space. They’re also full of essential nutrients to keep everyone going in-between meals, without resorting to expensive (and often unfulfilling) service station snacks.
Fill your flasks and keep thirst at bay – particularly important in warmer weather. Many airports now have water fountains, so you can refill your bottles once you’ve passed through immigration.
Comfort is Key
Depending on your mode of transport and duration of travel, take whatever’s needed to ensure optimal comfort during the journey, choosing items that can be easily packed and take up minimal space. Things to include could be lightweight, easily packed outfits, soft and light blankets, inflatable pillows, eye masks, and cozy socks. Oh, and don’t forget the little-one’s favorite small toy and pets’ ball!
Realistic and Practical Packing
It’s easy to fill the car with home comforts for a long ride, but less so when things need to be carried. Make things fun by having a night where everyone prepares their own travel pack. Perhaps create an added air of excitement and encourage yet more reasons to get involved by offering some mini-incentives along the way. Most inventive idea? Neatest packer? Most entertaining game? It’s amazing how much motivation a little competition can generate.
A little quality time to prepare for the travel experience can transform the journey from something to be dreaded or endured before or after the holiday, in to an enjoyable part of the experience. Happy travels!