Winter travel can be bulky. Between extra outerwear and extra layers of underwear, it can seem like you are packing the whole house. Make a list of everything you need to keep your packing streamlined and under control. Bring everything you need to be safe, warm and comfortable, without bringing more than you need.
If you are traveling by plane this holiday season, keep a close eye on schedules and weather throughout your route. Be ready to make any last-minute changes if necessary. Pack a detailed itinerary in your main carry-on, including flight numbers, airport stops, airline numbers and numbers of key family members or friends. Also pack the chargers to your computer, phone and other valuables in your carry-on. Make sure each family member has a coat, mittens or gloves, hat and shoes with him. You may want to ask them to wear their shoes, wrap the coat around their waist and tuck the gloves and hat into their carry-on. You never know when you might end up with an overnight layover, making you leave the airport for a hotel. Always keep any medication, snuggly blankets and other daily necessities with you. It can be easy to think, “It’s only a six-hour trip; we’ll grab it on the other end,” but if you end up stranded because of weather, you will want to have everything you need to sleep and function with you. You may want to have some extra cash on hand in case you need to purchase food or other amenities.
Train travel runs the same risks as plane travel, in that schedules may be delayed or upset. Keep a print out of your route on hand, as well as the numbers of hotels along the way and car rentals. Be prepared to make alternative travel plans if trains can’t leave their stations because of ice or snow drifts. Keep a snack, such as trail mix or protein bars, in your bags to keep everyone’s blood sugar regulated and everyone’s mood up in the event of train delays or changes. With every mode of travel, pack a book, travel games or other small items that will keep kids busy, no matter what’s happening with the schedule.
Car travel presents its own set of concerns, especially in areas prone to harsh winter weather. Pack coats, hats, gloves, extra socks and blankets for every person traveling. Don’t forget blankets for pets, too. Pack some canned soup or other small meals as well as a can opener. Don’t forget a shovel, flares, ice scrapers, deicing equipment and a portable radio in case you are stranded. You may want to invest in solar or hand-cranked phone chargers so you can call for help in any situation.