Tips For Handling Holiday Travel
Advice for making holiday travel a happy family experience
Some of us only have to travel across town (or just from room to room) for the holidays, but for many, it’s the season of road trips. Epic ones. What if you could replace the “are-we-there-yets” and backseat wars for an adventure that would make the Griswolds jealous? We spoke with Meag Poirier, adventurer, traveler and co-owner of The Wild Drive Life, and asked her for a few manageable tips on how to make holiday travel an enjoyable, memorable experience. Her first suggestion — be flexible and creative when picking your unique form of transportation, like a larger car, bus, towable camper or even an RV.
Picking Your Mode of Transportation
Once you’ve decided to hit the road for the holidays, take a step back and consider where you’re going and how many people you are traveling with so you can pick the proper mode of transportation. Will you be traveling for a couple of hours or a couple of days? Will you be sleeping at a hotel or will you be sleeping in your vehicle? Do you need to tow your car or do you have a truck fit for a towable RV unit? Will you be bringing kids and do they get motion sickness? “Whether it is a weekend or a couple of weeks, living nomadically has its perks,” says Poirier. “You are allowed flexibility, new experiences and freedom that you might not have explored before.”
A towable camper is cheaper compared to an RV, but it might be less convenient. An RV gives you full access to a bathroom, food and more, but many are not ideal for four-season travel. This poses a potential roadblock for traveling in New Hampshire. “If you want to fit in a normal parking space and travel on mountain roads, your best bet would be a vehicle that is 20 feet or less,” says Poirier. “If you are aiming for comfort and luxury, then it makes sense to go with something over 20 feet.” Poirier also suggests teardrop trailers since you can tow them with almost any vehicle, making them a great choice for road trips. There are even things called truck campers available from companies like Kimbo Living.
“Holiday travel to see friends and family might seem daunting, but it really is an exciting, creative experience,” notes Poirier. “Whether you have a bus, van or decide to rent an RV, how neat would it be to have your own space to enjoy and share at parties and gatherings?”
Now that you have decided how you will get to your destination, you need to map it out. Before you leave, make sure that you familiarize yourself with your vehicle. Take it for a drive, know its height and weight (for bridge, tunnel and hill purposes), and put a toolkit together with items like screwdrivers and glue for quick fixes. Plan your route in advance, have a flexible departure time in order to avoid traffic, and check the weather, especially when driving larger vehicles. Poirier’s biggest tip? Remember and accept that things take longer. “If you decide to travel in a vehicle like an RV, traveling can be much slower because you’re often traveling at slower speeds, taking alternative routes and stopping more often.” Sometimes the best memories come out of unplanned adventures, so embrace a little spontaneity as well.
Before you start dashing through the snow, stop at the grocery store and pack your food ahead of time to avoid extra food expenses. A couple of pantry essentials include nuts, fruits, snacks and even sandwich fixings — a staple for Poirier on trips. “We try to be intentional in our shopping and meal planning,” says Poirier. “We have almost zero food waste because we’re always turning leftovers into other meals. Embrace your leftovers.”
Keep in mind that your food will also have a tendency to move around: Pack in lightweight containers, consolidate items and ingredients when you can, and think shelf-stable (nonperishable items if possible). “We use melamine dishes because they are durable,” says Poirier. “Broken dishes are the worst in a small space that moves.” Simple is better, and less is more. You can always stop and pick things up as you go. Make sure that you leave room for local finds you come across along the way.
For a little extra holiday cheer, pack up a bag of travel games and crafts for your kids, and for you too. Bring a journal to document your adventures, and grab a disposable camera for photos to make a scrapbook with later. Do the best that you can to unplug and enjoy every moment of your traveling experience. You are the pilot of your own road trip, and don’t forget that it is OK to take the road less traveled sometimes — you never know who you could meet or what you could find. So, over the hill and through the woods, to grandmother’s house you go.