Airport security. Traffic. Hungry children. Bored children. Hungry and bored spouse. General all around stupidity and rudeness. All of these factors can play into a miserable trip, whether flying or driving. In the past two years, realizing I can prevent much of this type of frustration has made traveling not only bearable but actually enjoyable to the point that I look forward to it just as much (well almost anyway) as the actual vacation itself.

Unfortunately, that realization came after 18 years of dreading travel time. (I’m sure many other people figure it out a lot sooner.) Combined with what I discovered about How to… Plan for a Vacation without Going Crazy, the following 5 tips truly make the actual travel time a positive contribution to the vacation experience as a whole.

  1. Take snacks and activities. Hunger and boredom usually lead to poor choices, and I’m not just talking about behavior of children. Carry-on bags should hold everyone’s favorite snacks as well as activities for those who don’t sleep while traveling (like me and my kids… my husband can sleep anywhere, anytime.) Don’t be that person whose kids are unruly on the airplane simple because they are bored and hungry. For car travel, keep snacks within arm’s reach and have lots of activities, perhaps even planning them out for every state entered or miles driven.
  2. Keep hydrated. Almost put this with #1 but really felt like staying hydrated needed emphasis all its own. Ask my kids, “What’s the first thing you do if you have a headache or start feeling off or grumpy all of a sudden?”” They’ll tell you, “Drink water.” Staying hydrated prevents a whole host of uncomfortable symptoms and just makes everyone much more pleasant. When traveling, never be without water nearby to sip from regularly.
  3. Keep other travelers’ in mind. This especially comes into play with airplane travel. People will seem rude (yes, that means you too), and people will do stupid things (yes, you too) like have too big or too many carry ones and get a little to “cozy” at times. In addition to these 5 tips (and the others many of you are going to leave in the comments), two words will make airplane travel bearable and, dare I say, even pleasant. Ready, here they are: Patience and flexibility.
  4. Utilize electronics but don’t depend on them. We take a DVD player and movies when we travel, but we don’t use them constantly. We also take phones and iPods that really get used very little because of the other activities (travel games, books with fun questions, reading to each other, etc.) that take up a lot of our travel time. Electronics bring a much-needed break on especially long trips, but the certainly don’t provide a large percentage of our entertainment. We’ve found too many other enjoyable activities to pass the time.
  5. Focus on bonding. When our focus for travel switched from getting from point A to point B to connecting as a couple and as a family, traveling became enjoyable. This is why we keep electronics to a minimum and choose travel activities we can do together. This is why we surprise each other with favorite snacks and why we try to learn as much as possible about the places we see. Find ways to bond as a family when you travel, and you’ll look forward to and truly enjoy every second you are together.

Employing the above tips really makes travelling fun for me and my family. Not only that, but because we focus on bonding and connecting with each other, travelling with my family has become a part of the vacation itself and not just a means to an end.

I’m sure there are a ton more tips that I did not think of or have the time to cover, such as those found in How To Reduce the Stress of Traveling by Elizabeth Scott, M.S.. What suggestions and tips do you have for enjoyable travel to and from your vacation destination?

DISCUSSION: How can traveling be a time to “make the most of every opportunity” to strengthen relationships?