>> Dec 3, 2016
The holidays, from Thanksgiving through the New Year, tend to be the busiest times of the year to travel. Motivated by good food and good company, nearly 49 million people traveled for Thanksgiving in 2016—the highest number since 2007, according to CBS Miami. Many more will travel during the holiday season through the end of the year, with the majority planning to drive.
If you’re one of the many Americans making the pilgrimage to see family, friends, and loved ones this holiday season, now is the time to start planning. In this guide, we’ll help you keep your journey as stress-free and affordable as possible.
Packing for Your Trip
If you’re going to be spending most of the time at your family’s house, pack light. Many of the comforts of home will be readily available to you, so leave the hair dryer at home. If there’s something you may need, just give your hosts a call before you pack your bags. Keep your wardrobe to a minimum too, as you can always do a quick load of laundry if necessary.
How to Travel
Gas prices are low this year, which is one of the main reasons why so many people are choosing to drive. Driving is also ideal because you can make your own schedule, instead of rushing and stressing. Many holiday travelers are choosing to travel in groups to keep expenses down. Loading a van up with friends is a great way to make your trip fun and extremely cheap.
Southern California is one of the most popular holiday season travel destinations this year, according to AAA, so vans for rent in Los Angeles and the surrounding cities are going to be a hot commodity. Book your van rental now, so you know you’re covered when the season hits. If you decide to fly or take a bus or train, make sure you book your tickets now, as they’re only going increase in price as the holiday draws closer.
Keeping the Kids Busy
If you’re road tripping with the kids, especially on a long journey, you’re going to need to keep them entertained, at least when they’re awake! We recommend packing a travel binder full of activities such as coloring books, puzzle books, comic books, magazines, and anything else that will keep them focused. Don’t forget to bring pens, pencils, crayons, and markers.
These days, setting up a mini movie station in a vehicle is surprisingly easy. If you have a tablet, a laptop, or even a smartphone, you should be able to download your child’s favorite movies and TV shows for easy viewing. You could also load up a tablet with a variety of free computer games to keep the kids entertained.
Audiobooks are also a great way to keep all of your passengers entertained. A kid-friendly book such as Harry Potter can really be enjoyable for all age groups, so spend some time loading up your electronic device with stories.
Where to Stay
Of course, the most affordable option is going to be to crash at the family’s house. However, renting a nearby hotel room may be a more appealing option, depending on your budget. After all, even the most loving families need some alone time, and having a place to retreat to at night just makes the next day’s visit even more enjoyable.
Another option is to rent a room or a house from a website such as Airbnb. The prices are often competitive compared to corporate hotels, and you may find the accommodations to be even more enjoyable. If you shop around, you may even be able to rent out an entire house for the cost of a hotel room.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying at a cheap motel if you just need a place to sleep at night. Think about how much time you’ll be spending at your family’s house, and then plan your lodging needs accordingly. There’s no reason to splurge on a fancy hotel room if you’re only going to be there at night.
Don’t Forget to Bring…
We’ve compiled a list of items that are often overlooked when packing.
● Slippers/House Shoes
● Alarm Clock
● First-Aid Kit
● Personal Hygiene Products
● Printouts of Reservations
● Pillow and Blanket
Start Planning Now!
When it comes to making holiday travel plans, time is of the essence. Prices tend to rise fast as the season approaches, and the best options tend to sell out quickly. Start arranging your travel plans now, before the rush hits. You’ll be so thankful you did, and isn’t that what this holiday season is all about?
Carl Turner is a Southern California-based freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about range of topics. When he’s not working, he enjoys exploring a new hiking trail, eating at the latest hot dining spot, and planning his next family road trip.