Oh, the hustle and bustle that is so prevalent at Christmastime can make the idea of traveling to see loved ones quite overwhelming. There are gifts to consider, last minute shopping ideas, food that needs to travel, and let’s not forget to pack up the kids and the family dog. Where does an overworked, under appreciated Christmas connoisseur find the energy and the talent to get the family to where they need to be for Christmas?
Let’s start with the basics. Christmas can be a little overwhelming when you are not leaving the house, add in traveling a distance and now you have three times the work ahead of you. The best plan is any plan that goes into effect early. Most people recommend begin the travel basics prior to Thanksgiving.
Holiday shopping is time consuming and expensive. Stretching it out over a period of a couple of months not only saves in the sudden overwhelming expense, but it can assist in the organization factor as well. If you shop online, most packages can be wrapped, boxed, and shipped right to your destination, assuming you trust the individual to resist the urge to peek. This can eliminate huge hassles, especially if your destination includes a flight.
Flights can be difficult with packages, especially with the ever increasing security and airport regulations that change on a daily basis. It is best to either send your packages ahead of time, or send them direct from the retailer to avoid any flying hassles that packaging may bring. If you can complete your holiday shopping at least a week ahead of time, then you can rest easy knowing that all of your packages will arrive before you with ample room to spare.
Just a little side note. When ordering and shipping from online stores, save every single receipt. I ordered a video game two weeks before Christmas. I am still waiting for the arrival of the elusive video game. I do, however make it a practice to order from stores with local chains. This way if I can’t get results from their online customer service department, I can make myself annoying enough with a live person at the local chain store. Sometimes I opt not to do this out of principle, but I do like to know that the option is there.
If your travel plans take you out of the country, keep in mind that customs policies and shipping difficulties can delay the arrival of your packages up to six or eight weeks. I shipped something Israel once and it arrived almost three months later. However, had I taken it into the country with me, because of the packaging being wrapped, customs would have held me up for an extended period of time. If you are leaving the country, you should plan to have your packages shipped as early as late August or early September. In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, don’t forget to keep your documentation up to date and to have your immunizations correct and documented.
When traveling a little closer to home, packaging can be a little more hands-on, provided there is ample space in the vehicle of choice. Depending on the amount and size of the Christmas gifts, simply taking them with you to your destination can be an equally reasonable option.
Driving over the holidays can be a challenge, one that tests our road rage management, as well as our patience with our beloved family members. Often a long car ride on the day of Christmas Eve is a good way to start everyone off on a cranky note. Allow ample time to arrive at your destination, plan on numerous rest stops, and pack new and interesting games for the kids to keep them occupied while you are creeping through stop and go traffic. Sometimes allowing them an extra Christmas present to be opened only if traffic becomes intolerable can ease family tension along the way.
If you think you might be up for it, and have someone who can share the driving, traveling to a destination overnight can eliminate traffic hassles as well a child hassles. Chances are good they will sleep for most of the trip and you and your significant other can trade the driving experience on and off. This is most effective with babies who tend to get cranky on long car rides but lack the ability to do anything creative with their time.
Trains and buses offer alternatives that are most likely more beneficial to singles or those without children. Although trains offer the child the ability to get up and walk during the trip, once their excitement wears off it can be more taxing than driving. However, some children do very well on the train and those that do find the experience delightful.
Traveling during the Christmas holiday takes time, energy, planning, and a great deal of organization in order to effectively travel without too many unexpected headaches. Traveling can be a wonderfully rewarding experience, and can bring families that are scattered throughout the United States and Canada can enjoy the feeling of togetherness once again. Most people who travel over the holidays find the experience worthwhile, and believe that they get better at it with a little practice.