5 Tips and Tricks for Successful Holiday Road Trips

BY: - 6 Dec '16 | Travel

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So the holidays are upon us, last minute shopping is taking place, plans are being finalized, food is being prepared and ugly sweaters, Santa hats and faux reindeer antlers are getting worn. The holiday season is a lot of fun, but it is also a costly endeavor. Therefore, looking for bargains, deals and using general money savings strategies is always a priority.

Toward that end, many people will take to the roads this holiday season to avoid the hassle and cost of flying to see friends and loved ones.

Having just returned from a road trip, I can say the following tips can save you time, headaches and money if you have a road trip of your own coming up.

1. Research and Plan Ahead

You know you need to go to Grandma’s house, you know when you are going to be there, and you know what you need to do to prepare for the trip. But also, give some thought as to how you are going to get there.

Today’s travelers usually rely on their car or phone GPS systems with little pre-planning. And that’s fine, but my advice is to not wait until you’re already in the car, where you’re left to coordinate alternative routes and navigate around time delays in the moment. Investigate the timing and your optional routes before you hit the road.

If you have a longer drive, consider breaking it up and finding some interesting places along the way to stop that have a bit more to offer than the typical off-ramp rest-stop, especially important when traveling with younger kids. This can be a fun bonus to build memories for your children, which they may always correlate with the experience of going to see grandma.

2. Be Prepared

Pack activity bags for your kids (or yourself), which can run the gamut from electronic games, to coloring books, reading books,  favorite toys, puzzles, games, etc.  If your car is equipped with an entertainment system, bring along favorite movies and CDs. If not, load your tablets and computers with your favorite movies and shows, so you can play them offline. Even Netflix now allows you to pre-load content to your devices for offline viewing.

Most important, DON’T FORGET EARPHONES and/or EARPLUGS, you will thank me for this later!

3. Think with Your Wallet, Not with Your Stomach

To avoid multiple stops for food along the way, bring snacks/food with you. This is also great for the health-conscious moms who want a bit more control over what the kids are eating. We all know the options on the road aren’t the best or the most nutritious, and these tips will save you some money, too.

Another bonus of packing your own food is you can reduce complaints (think whining) from the kids about the food when you pack their favorites. Plus, your kids will bother you less if they can just reach to grab their snack versus complain as you pass every unsatisfactory highway exit.

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3. Ship Gifts in Advance

If you get your gifts in advance, have them shipped to your destination, that way you free up space in the car. This is always a plus especially when traveling with kids. Plus, there is nothing more enraging than seeing when that gift Christmas package shifts in transit to block your rear view mirror view.

4. Travel on Off-Peak Days and Early/Late in the Day

Sometimes, depending upon how far you have to go, it serves you better to leave on the actual holiday itself since most people will try to leave a day or two days before. This significantly decreases the volume of traffic on the roads and the likelihood for accidents to happen.

The best times to hit the road are either really early or really late when others are sleeping.  Don’t worry about being tired yourself because you can always take rest stops along the way, tag team with your co-pilot, and/or take a nap when you get to your destination.

5. Expect the Unexpected

Expect your trip to take longer than you may have originally planned.  Any and everything happens on the road, especially during the holidays when many more people than usual are on the roads.  Linking back to “being prepared,” if you are traveling to a snowy destination, make sure your car is ready to deal with changing weather.  Make sure to have your spare tire, flashlights, first-aid kit, tire-chains, flares and anything else you think you might need to ensure a safe and successful road trip, especially in potentially inclement weather.

Having these items will at worst mean you are prepared and at best give you peace of mind knowing you are ready to face whatever challenges arise.

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!

BMWK, what other holiday road trip tips do you abide by?

About the author

Lia Miller wrote 23 articles on this blog.

Lia Miller is an every woman, in that she does and is interested in a lot of things. Lia is a wife and mother, ambitious/career focused individual, writer and award winning blogger, do-it-yourself loc’d naturalista, foodie, avid reader, movie buff, sports enthusiast, passionate about music, dance, and the arts, news junkie, advocate for the underdog/under-represented, with an incurable bug for traveling and exploring the world. Lia is also a clinical social worker with a concentration in children, relationships, and family dynamics. Lia’s focus is to find and share how to get the best out of life by living fully, loving hard, and always learning.

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5 Vacation Rules for Couples – Use Them If You Want to Have Fun Together

BY: - 10 Apr '17 | Marriage

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I have traveled alone for years…which I highly recommend you try to do at least once in life.) I’ve also traveled with friends, in groups, with family, and with my boyfriend (now husband) and each type of travel experience has its challenges and benefits.  However, the one that is often the most delicate is traveling with your spouse or significant other.

Many couples go into their travel plans with the best of intentions…but they find themselves in arguments, feeling tense and frustrated.  And they don’t end up enjoying themselves as much as they could; which of course nearly defeats the purpose of taking the trip in the first place.

Here are some tips based on my own travel experiences and those of my well-traveled and married (or in a serious committed relationship) friends that can help you put your “issues” aside and simply enjoy each other and the experience.

5 Vacation Rules for Couples

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Rule #1: Plan the Trip Together

Rule number one, never go on a trip that you both don’t cosign.  Right from the gate, you will be dealing with direct resentment or passive-aggressive resentment (albeit in some cases sub-consciously) from the person whose trip idea wasn’t chosen.

A suggestion I have in terms of picking a trip you both want to take is that you each write down a list of 10 destinations you are interested in, then see if you have any destinations in common.  If you do jackpot! If you don’t, find a place that has the greatest number of options available that will keep you both happy and fulfilled.

Or, one of my favorite thing to do is to pick a destination at random, throw a dart at a map, or close your eyes and spin a globe and see where your finger lands.  The bottom line is you need to go somewhere that you both want to go to.

Rule #2: Vow Not to Bring “Baggage” With You

I don’t mean this in the literal sense. Of course you need to bring luggage.  What I mean is don’t bring “baggage”.  Don’t bring work, stress, worries about the kids, bills, or anything else with you.

Come with the intention of focusing on and spending time with each other.  Make a pact to keep your cell phones off and only turn them on when you want to check in on the kids or some other equally important reason.  But other than that, turn em off.

Leave your problems on the shelf and use this time to release, relax, recharge, and reconnect, so that you when you return to “reality” you are stronger team and can tackle whatever issues you may have together.

Rule #3: Take Time for Yourself

As counterintuitive as it sounds, making time for yourself while you’re on vacation with your spouse can actually make the time spent together much sweeter.  For example, on one trip I took with the hubby to Jamaica, I went to the spa and got the full treatment while he went charter fishing.

That night was especially fun because we both got to do what we wanted to do during the day and felt satisfied and in a place where we could just focus on one another.  I felt like a million bucks and he was happy he got to do what he loved on his terms, which meant we were able to concentrate only on each over dinner and into the evening.

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Rule #4: Do Things Together

In contrast to my last point, do things together.  On a trip we took to Thailand, we got a couples massage and spa treatment, went river fishing (clearly you can see a trend to our travels — going to the spa and fishing are two of our favorite things. We rode an elephant together, went to a snake farm and had a boa constrictor wrap itself around our legs to see how tight it could squeeze.  We ate out every night, went parasailing, did sightseeing,  and chilled on the beach, among other activities.  The idea is when you are traveling together do things together and engage actively with one another.

Rule #5: Be Flexible

One of the biggest argument starters in any relationship, whether you’re on vacation or at home, is inflexibility.  One person wants to have things their way, or is only willing to do things they want to do, as opposed to compromising and giving a little to get a little.

In a vacation situation where much is left to chance and outside of your control (or even on cruises where literally everything is planned down to the minute), flexibility is key.  Be willing to do what your partner wants to do and expect that they are willing to do the same for you.

The key to it all is to be flexible and have fun!

When we took a trip to Egypt, we decided that we would take turns planning our daily activities. I would take Monday, he took Tuesday, and on and on throughout the week.  It made for an interesting and fun trip because we ended up doing things that we otherwise wouldn’t have if only one of us had taken the lead on trip planning or one of us had been inflexible and unwilling to go along with the plan.  The key to it all is to be flexible and have fun!

Travel in any form can be a challenge without preparation and flexibility, but when you travel as a couple these tips can truly help make your trip the most enjoyable it can keep.  Happy Travels!

About the author

Lia Miller wrote 23 articles on this blog.

Lia Miller is an every woman, in that she does and is interested in a lot of things. Lia is a wife and mother, ambitious/career focused individual, writer and award winning blogger, do-it-yourself loc’d naturalista, foodie, avid reader, movie buff, sports enthusiast, passionate about music, dance, and the arts, news junkie, advocate for the underdog/under-represented, with an incurable bug for traveling and exploring the world. Lia is also a clinical social worker with a concentration in children, relationships, and family dynamics. Lia’s focus is to find and share how to get the best out of life by living fully, loving hard, and always learning.

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