Managing To-Do's

Holiday Travel Tips

November 21, 2022

I’m Kelly Nolan.
I'm an attorney who'd been decently organized through law school but got quickly overwhelmed as a actual attorney. After nothing else worked for me, I created this system – and kept on practicing law. Years later, I found out others were interested in learning it, so that's what I do now! Let's get this realistic system in your hands so you can start living a life that feels more calm, doable, and that lights you up.
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Here’re some practical holiday travel tips if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or actually, whenever.

Traveling makes me a bit anxious. I worry if we’ll get to the airport in time, get through security in time, etc.

If you’re similar, here’s something that really helps me:

Holiday travel tips - Airport with three planes on the ground

Use your calendar to clarify the details of your holiday travel

Break out your calendar. Use it to back out your plans so you get clarity of how it will come together and don’t have to keep playing and replaying how you’ll make it all work in your head.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re flying on Wednesday at 11am. The flight is likely already in your calendar. Now let’s get all the mental logistics out of your head:

When do you want to be at the airport?

I’ve always been an early arrive-r, and with holiday travel making up some of the the busiest travel periods of the year and especially if I’ll be traveling with kids, I’m definitely getting to the airport two hours early. If you’re the same, you’d block 9-11 as “Airport Time” in your calendar. If less, block less time – this is flexible, so make it work for you! You can even layer over reminders of things you want to do at the airport that you might forget to do (e.g., fill up water bottles, change a kid’s diaper 30 minutes before takeoff).

Next, think about…

How are you getting to the airport?

Are you driving? Calendar time for that – e.g., 8:15-9:00 as “Drive.”

Note: Factor in time for the drive AND parking – again, it’s a crazy busy time of the year and it might take you longer than you’d think to find a parking spot. Building in time for that will help your stress levels stay lower as you drive around.

Bonus holiday travel tip: Calendar a reminder for around when you’ll park to take a picture of where you parked! In addition, I sometimes put the info in a calendar entry around when we land on our return (e.g., if we land at 4:30 on Sunday, around 4:30, I’ll calendar “Car at Purple 5U”).

If you Uber/Lyft/taxi to the airport, calendar when you want to call the service and even, e.g., 30 minutes earlier when you want to check how long the wait is for planning purposes. Consider adding in alarms for this purpose.

If you’re driving and if you have kids, don’t forget how long packing the car can take. Calendar time for it – e.g., 30 minutes. (Learned that lesson the hard way last time!)

Want to protect time for any other step?

Consider calendaring time for other things you want to do that morning – e.g., finishing packing up, showering, packing up snacks from the fridge.

Holiday travel tips – for the return trip, too.

Do all of the above for your return trip. Some bonus tips regarding your return trip:

  • If you’re renting a car there, don’t forget to factor in time to get gas before you drop the car (and remind yourself to do it at the right time in your calendar)!
  • If you have a Nest or some other home temp app, calendar a reminder to, e.g., turn up the heat on the morning of your return.
  • Here’s one of my favorite holiday travel tips: Calendar time to order Instacart on the morning of your return. I sometimes pack up my virtual cart in the morning when, e.g., we’re driving to the airport, and then actually order before we’re taking off on our last flight so I know we actually will be home at a certain time (versus ordering in the morning, getting flights delayed, and then having groceries sitting out overnight – ruining food and advertising that we’re not home).

That’s it!

While this might seem a little crazy, do you see how many logistics you were managing in your head before you laid it all out in your calendar?? No wonder it made you stressed out and frazzled – especially because you likely kept playing through the logistics to see if it could work and to try to make sure you weren’t forgetting anything.

Getting alllllll of these logistics into your calendar helps you clear your mind of all the puzzle pieces, stop ruminating on how it’ll come together, and helps you plan realistically.

Alright, my friend… I hope this helps!

May you have a lovely, calm, relaxing holiday season with loved ones. And for another strategy to use to get there, check out this blog post. Enjoy!

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