If travel is in your immediate future, here are a few Holiday travel tips and some house guest etiquette to make your time a bit more merry and bright:
Holiday Travel Tips
- Acknowledge those who are tired, frazzled, working over the holiday and attempting to make your trip run smoothly. Don’t forget to thank the airline personnel who go above and beyond the call of duty (yes, many actually do!) and bite your tongue to maintain a positive demeanor when things don’t go exactly as planned. Offer airline personnel, TSA staff and your friendly flight attendants your best smile and a warm holiday greeting. Keep in mind that they are away from their own loved ones to ensure your flight goes off without a hitch.
- Look for ways to brighten someone else’s day. If you happen to notice a stranger having a tough moment, seize the opportunity to spread holiday kindness. A random and simple act of generosity, something as small as a cup of hot cocoa, can transform the direction of his or her mood. I just left my local shoe repair in preparedness for my upcoming trip and noticed the guy behind the counter was visibly not in the best mood. I left him a small tip and it transformed his entire outlook. He even apologized and said, “I’m so used to people rushing in and out without even making eye contact and I forget there are other kinds of people living in this neighborhood.” He made my day, too.
- Don’t forget the travel games. Nothing is more miserable than traveling with bored children. Preparing a back pack with snacks and some entertainment options is a lifesaver when you encounter layovers and hours of visiting with long lost relatives. My two favorite games are Yahtzee to Go and Christmas Farkle.
- Acknowledge your host with a hostess gift. No matter your holiday budget, showing appreciation for your host family’s hospitality is paramount on your “to do” list. After all, he or she is offering you room and board, a comfortable bed and multiple home cooked meals. To brush up on your holiday houseguest duties, see one of my previous posts here and make your host glad she invited you.
- If you are traveling by car, and you have enough room, you can prepare a gift basket in advance and carefully place it in your back seat or trunk. If you are flying or have limited travel space, put the pieces of the basket (or lovely bag) in your suitcase and assemble it once you reach your destination. Don’t forget the tissue paper and a card. Get the kids involved in constructing the gift and have them give it to the host from the entire family. Even if you/they are only walking from the bedroom to the living room, there is something about a child holding a home crafted gift that warms even the hardest of hearts.
- Let the little things roll right off of your back. Anticipate that your nosey Uncle Jim will once again quiz you about why you are not yet married. It happens every year, so be prepared with a friendly response. He most likely is at a loss for conversation topics and is grasping for the most obvious. Most importantly, take the question with a grain of salt and shift the conversation towards his love of fly fishing. The annual holiday visit is not the time to have a heated debate with someone you haven’t seen since last Christmas Eve and don’t plan to see again for another year.
- Unplug from technology. With our recent Thanksgiving Unplugged campaign, (@GoUnplugged), my friend and cofounder of Thanksgiving Unplugged, Thomas Farley (a.k.a. Mister Manners) and I are committed to spreading the word to disconnect from technology at the holiday meal. Let this serve as a friendly reminder to step away from the screen and tune into the conversation around your holiday table this season.
- Give yourself adequate time to get where you are going. When you are a guest at someone’s home, don’t expect the world to revolve around you and your family. If you need to be someplace at a certain time, rent a car or take the subway. Allow your host family to maintain their schedule and normal routine as much as possible. Plan for traffic delays and make every effort to collect addresses and destinations before you leave your own home.
- Enjoy the holidays. Hustle and bustle aside, the best gift you can give yourself and your family is the gift of time. Shop early, stay up late, enjoy old movies, visit with good friends and family and make some new holiday memories. You will forget who gave you what gift by next year but you will remember small gestures of kindness long after the holiday lights are packed away.