My holiday season is always filled with lots to do. There are people to see, gifts to buy and parties to attend.

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Holiday Travel Tips

My holiday season is always filled with lots to do. There are people to see, gifts to buy and parties to attend.

Add holiday travel to the mix, and my time can be really stretched. I’ve collected a few calming tips to help smooth the way.

When I travel by air, I always bring:

  • Evian water spray (I buy the six-pack)
  • Small mag light or flashlight
  • Hand sanitizer, always
  • Cover-up or shawl – the blankets on planes are nasty
  • Small travel pillow, to make a coach seat feel like first class
  • Lavender sachets or spray for the hotel room

Flying with kids?

  • Bring snacks like crackers, carrots or PBJ triangles in plastic baggies.
  • A Kindle loaded with titles for kids will keep young readers content.
  • Classic coloring books or a mini Etch A Sketch® will engage them creatively.

Perennial travel tips

  • Confirm your reservations before you leave home.
  • If you haven’t yet, join a rewards or miles club.
  • Don’t forget prescription medicines and extra glasses.
  • Plan for delays, leave early and allow plenty of extra time.
  • Don’t wrap gifts before packing. It doesn’t make sense when you’re flying, and wrappings could be damaged in the car trunk if you’re driving.
  • Bring gift bags to wrap with when you arrive; they’re reusable and recyclable.
  • Consider sending your gifts – and your luggage – ahead of time.

Hotel stays

Whenever I travel – which is often – I like to make my hotel room feel like home. The first thing I do when I get to my room is rearrange the furniture a bit to make it “live” better. Then I take the bedspread off the bed, since I can never be sure how clean it is. This is when my lavender spray comes in handy, especially to help me relax before bedtime. I like to pick up a bunch of flowers for my room to add fragrance and color.

If you’re traveling with your kids, try to give them a space in the room that feels like their own to help them feel more comfortable. Bring along a digital photo frame or fold-up frames to remind them of friends or pets at home.

  • If you tend to forget your power cord, write your contact info on a tag and attach it to the cord, so the hotel has a way to contact you if you leave it behind.
  • Bring an extra pillowcase to slip over the hotel pillow if you’re squeamish about cleanliness; even a t-shirt will work in a pinch.
  • Bring an A/V cable for your laptop and save on overpriced in-room flicks.
  • Hotel stationary makes a free and fun souvenir.

Car trips

I love listening to books on CDs while I’m driving. They actually help me stay focused as I watch the road. So try one out if it doesn’t distract you.

  • Pack light and stay organized. Even though you’re driving, you don’t want to feel weighed down by extras.
  • Don’t forget the kids’ favorite videos. This may be a good time to treat them to a couple new films.
  • Keep a trash bag, plus a bag for recyclables, in the car.
  • Give everyone a “free stop” pass. Each traveler gets to use their token when they find an interesting place to stop and sight-see.
  • When you do stop, take a 5-minute walk to get your blood moving.
  • Use www.wifinder.com to find free public wi-fi spots nationwide.

Dining out

Carry a Zagat guide or check their site when you get to your destination. Enjoy the local specialties. When I’m near the ocean, I dine on seafood; in the Midwest, cornfed beef. If a special meal inspires you, make notes so you can recreate the recipe at home – our Genius chef, Bibby, has some tips. Or compile a recipe journal as you travel, noting special meals and tasty treats you enjoy. Word to the wise: don’t try eating something so daring that it might disagree with you, especially the night before a business meeting!

  • Ask folks on your social networking sites if they can recommend places to eat in the city you’re traveling to.
  • If you’re concerned about your dining-out budget, eat where the locals eat, rather than the tourist spots.
  • Experiment! Try new dishes and regional specialties when you go out.

Document your trip with your camera, make notes on your mobile phone or sketch things that inspire you. Have an old Polaroid camera? The prints make interesting collages you can create and frame when you’re back home.

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