Take the Stress Out of Holiday Travel

Thu, Dec 08, 2016 @ 08:12 AM Mary Ann Eckberg Travel Tips

Like most military families, in order to visit our loved ones, we must make plans to travel. An added bonus? We have the type of luck that when venturing via train, plane, or automobile, unexpected things occur.

Possibly we’ll have a mix up with reservations. Maybe our luggage will take the scenic route. Perhaps there will be a vehicle breakdown or, heaven forbid, an emotional breakdown! Our family trips are always a gamble.

Those plans that looked oh-so-good on paper may end up as disappointing as the Gilmore Girls Revival has been to some fans!

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With travel looming this holiday season, ride along as I share a few experiences of unforeseen bumps along the road. 

Coping with the Unexpected

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While out and about, you may have noticed a vehicle with a container braced to the roof. A roof rack cargo carrier may be a practical storage solution when packing up the family truckster for a holiday road trip. Until I read MilitaryByOwner’s FREE Guide to Military Travel, I hadn’t really thought of an optimum place to park when our vehicle is filled to the brim with stuff. That complimentary e-book has some mighty fine answers! Additionally, having roof rack storage on a vehicle reminds me of what my friend Sara shared during their mid-year PCS.

Facing an off-season military move, Sara’s car was loaded to the gills with items from their “do not pack” room, as well as Christmas gifts. Exhausted from long hours of their cross-country journey, the family of four found a budget hotel and decided to crash for the night. They were content to leave their vehicle in the well-lit hotel parking lot due to additional lighting from a nearby college football stadium. Little did they know, later that night, victorious football fans celebrating an astounding play-off win would mob the entire area!

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Tipsy 20-somethings poured out of the stadium in droves. The sea of noisy revelers swarmed the hotel parking lot. The roofs and hoods of cars and trucks became dance floors and stages as if filming impromptu music videos! When dented by the joyous feet of a wanna-be cheerleader, Sara’s rooftop cargo container popped its latch. Out spilled the spare clothes and leftover items from the move that Sara had tucked away.

By the time the police contained the crowd, the airbeds that Sara had packed were partially inflated and bobbing above the heads of frat boys wearing her bedding as capes and togas. Thankfully, Sara’s valuables and Christmas gifts remained locked safely inside the car. Also, comprehensive coverage with their car insurance helped cover the damages. More proof that when out there traveling in this crazy world, a person never knows what to expect!

Travel Plans Changing? Flexibility Is Key!

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Last year, before taking off on a road trip to see our family, my spouse Jay and I volunteered with a children’s Christmas party. While assisting the mini master gingerbread builders with gumdrops, licorice, and frosting, Jay sneaked a couple of starlight peppermint hard candies! Shortly after, he told me his back tooth felt kind of funny. Busy with clean up from the fun-filled event, we both gave it no further thought.

However, when we hit the road, with each passing hour I could tell Jay was becoming more and more grumpy. Turns out, he wasn’t trying to portray Ebenezer Scrooge--his back molar was causing him throbbing pain! Thankfully, a dentist at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, was able to ease the pain and repair a broken filling. Yowza!

The dentist said this issue might have been caused by chomping on something. Maybe the type of hard candy served at the children’s Christmas party? Oops! As pointed out in the Guide to Military Travel E-book, even if out there on the open road, you're still taken care of. That “security blanket” concept may give peace of mind to traveling military families.

There’s a little rhyme that goes, “When it all hits the fan, be as patient as you can!” Recalling that phrase may come in handy if your air travel plans suddenly change.

For one reason or another, if you miss your flight, consider these options:

  • Call the airline - Even a flight change fee may be cheaper than buying a new fare.
  • Talk with the gate agent - Be polite and respectful. They are as close to a “crisis counselor” as you may find!
  • Try an alternate route - Are there other airports near your destination? Using Texas as an example, flying into Austin’s Bergstrom International may lead you back towards to San Antonio.

Looking for more helpful hints when things don't go as planned? As mentioned, MilitaryByOwner’s FREE ebook, Guide To Military Travel is brimming with useful tips, such as a list of “must-have’s” for any military family trip.

Even if it seems you and yours may experience more clouds than sunshine while traveling, try to find a little glimmer of positivity in the mix. After all, you have embarked on a holiday adventure together. The more memories, the better!

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Main image via Flickr BogoGames