Holiday travel tips for parents

Ideally, holiday travel will bring you closer to the friends and family who bring meaning to your life. In reality, it can be a harrowing experience ... add kids to the equation and it can easily make you forget all of those things you’re supposed to be thankful for during the holiday season. Want to keep your sanity this year? Try these tips to make your travels more enjoyable:


One of the very best things you can do to save the planet and your sanity is to avoid driving for the holidays. Take public transportation, take a train, or if possible, walk, or bike to your destination.


If you do need to drive, a tune-up will keep your car operating at its maximum efficiency, emitting fewer pollutants and sucking down less fuel. Whether you do it yourself or go to a mechanic, be sure your car is checked for worn spark plugs, dragging brakes and low transmission fluid. Replace your air filter as necessary and be sure your wheels are properly aligned and rotated. Keep tires properly inflated to reduce wear and tear on the tread and save fuel over the long run. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended inflation level (this number is also usually printed inside the door frame of your car). Take care of your car, and it will take care of you and be gentler on the planet.


Whether you are going five minutes down the road or five hours across the country, kids get bored when they have to sit still. So make sure you have some entertainment lined up to keep whining to a minimum. Try one of these cool travel games ... no products required. For long trips, you might also want to download a few new books on tape or movies to your child’s portable entertainment gadget to keep them entertained.


Fill up several reusable bottles with water and other beverages so that you won’t have to stop along the way. And don’t forget to grab some healthy snacks like cut up fruit and veggies, nuts, granola bars, dry cereal and PBJs to snack on along the way. This will cut down on frequent stops for drinks and food, saving you money and sanity and reducing all of the waste that comes from fast-food pit stops.


Save energy by taking a few minutes to unplug appliances, computers, power strips and televisions before you leave your house. Adjust your thermostat so that you are not heating or cooling an empty house (just be sure to leave the house a comfortable temperature if pets are staying behind). Happy travels!