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Holiday Travel Tips: What To Consider When Traveling This Holiday Season

Traveling for the holidays? Here's some advice to make things not so crazy.

During this time of the year, many of us are climbing in the car or hopping on a plane to visit family and friends. These trips, whether just a few hours or several days, can be a time to create long-remembered family memories, but as you head out on the road or board that plane, don’t forget to follow the Boy Scout’s motto: Be Prepared.

Pre-plan

Before leaving home, make sure items such as mail or newspapers will be picked up by a neighbor or friend. If that won’t work for you, consider having your mail held and newspaper delivery stopped while you are out of town. A house with mail and newspapers piling up is a beacon for burglars. A house sitter is another option to consider.

And don’t forget about the four-legged members of your family. If you aren’t taking pets with you, arrange to have them boarded or cared for by others for the days you will be gone. Don’t broadcast your travel plans on social media. You can never be sure who is monitoring your communication, waiting for a chance to take advantage of absent homeowners. Do make sure someone you trust knows your itinerary and check in from time to time.

With these pre-travel arrangements made, it’s time to pack it up and head out the door.

Car travel

If you are driving in a car, make sure you have a map or GPS. If unforeseen circumstances should land you in an unfamiliar place, a map or GPS can get you back on course. But remember, a GPS requires a source of power to operate so a map is always a good backup item to have in the glove box. Other emergency items necessary in the car are kitty litter for traction on icy roads, flares, water, emergency food items, blankets and warm clothing. Give your car a once-over before heading out. Check fluid levels and your spare tire. Make sure all items for an on-the-road flat are stowed in the car. Unforeseen circumstances could mean a breakdown or other emergency. Keep emergency cash or an emergency credit card handy.

If you are traveling with kids in the car, make sure they will be entertained. Books, games, portable DVD players and handheld game players are all good distractions. Don’t forget the chargers, adapters and battery packs. With today’s technology-driven society, we can’t be far from our cell phones, Nintendo DS or iPad for long. Heaven help us if they die! And unless you want to stop every time little tummies rumble, easy in-the-car snacks like string cheese, apples, crackers, pretzels and granola bars are a must. Pillows and blankets can help with nap time.

Air travel

Do your travel plans include airplanes? Make sure you are aware of baggage requirements. If you plan to carry-on baggage, don’t forget the 3-ounce or less rule for liquids. Again, don’t forget chargers and adapters for your electronic devices, and don’t forget headphones so you aren’t disturbing the person next to you.

When flying with children, make sure must-haves like small books and games or dry snacks and disinfecting wipes are packed in a gallon-size bag that you can toss in the seat while stowing luggage and other items. As with car rides, happy, entertained children are much less stress for everyone. Consider a carseat/stroller combo for a comfy seat on the plane and a safe seat in cabs. If you have a layover, scope out the airport ahead of time to find places where you might be able to entertain your children for a few minutes or burn off some pent-up energy. Find other air travel tips at Real Simple.

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Traveling is a wonderful chance to experience new places or reconnect with family and friends, but preparation is key to making the most of your holiday trips.

Check out your local gift shops or bookstores, like Barnes and Noble, for new material and games to play while traveling. It’s always a good idea to have your car tuned up before a long road trip too. Plan an appointment at your local garage, like Dan's Foreign Auto Repair L.L.C., H & S Tire & Automotive Center, Kevin's Auto Repair or Plaza Tire Service.

Readers, share your tried-and-true holiday travel tips with us in the comment section below.

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