Countdown to Thanksgiving: Travel Tips

countdown to thanksgiving

If you are not hosting Thanksgiving, but you are traveling somewhere for Thanksgiving, I have some tips for you!!

Day Trips:

If you are making a trip for the day, no big deal right? But it might be. Are you bringing food with you? If so, think hard about what you might bring. During this colder weather, I think it’s best to offer to bring something that does not need to be kept warm. It will be much easier to keep cold foods cold on a road trip than to keep hot foods hot. Bread, a nice salad, dessert or the cranberry sauce are all good travelers.

Foods have a “danger zone” of temperatures. From 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F is the optimal temperature range for bacterial growth. Foods should sit at room temperature for no more than 2 hours. If food is going to be held for longer than 2 hours, it needs to be below 40 degrees or above 140 degrees for safety’s sake. The last thing we need around the holidays is food poisoning! The best way to keep foods cold on a road trip is to put them in an ice chest- with ice. There is really no convenient, easy way to keep hot foods hot in the car.

If you really want to bring a warm dish, ask your host if there will be an opportunity to warm it up in the oven before dinner. If there will be time for that, you could bring your dish cold and put it in the oven when you get there.

Also- depending on how far you will be driving, bring something to keep the kiddos busy.  Here is an excerpt from my Vacation Series last summer:

Now, if we could just keep the fighting and whining to a minimum… Most cars nowadays come equipped with a DVD player, or a portable one could be purchased for a car that doesn’t have one built in, but it can be grating on parents to listen to kids movies all day long. Here are some other ways to keep kids busy on long car trips:

  • Travel Tickets- give the kids one “ticket” for each half hour of the trip. Take one from them on the half hour. When the tickets are gone, you’ll have reached your destination.
  • Travel Scavenger hunt for preschool or older children.
  • Books
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Mad libs
  • Singing silly songs, or playing a cd of silly kids songs

Whatever the age of your kids,  hopefully these tips will help make your road trip more relaxing and pleasant.

Overnight Stays:

If you are staying overnight, you probably aren’t bringing food with you. If you are bringing food, the same food safety rules apply.

Other than food, my biggest tip for overnight stays is this: PACK LIGHT! Chances are you will be staying in someone’s home. While we all love and enjoy having our closest family and friends stay with us, it often becomes overly crowded and that can add more stress to your hosts. The best way to combat this overcrowding is to bring as little with you as you can. Talk to your host beforehand and ask if it would be alright for you to borrow things like hair dryers, curling irons and other bathroom items that take up a lot of space. Also, try to bring only one or two pairs of shoes per person. I know this is difficult for some people (it definitely is for me!) but all of those shoes tend to get scattered around. They become a trip hazard.

The whole point is to be a gracious and courteous guest when you are in the home of someone else. But I would offer the same tips even if you are staying in a hotel. It will make the trip easier on you in the long run. It seems that we always come home with more than we took. I don’t know if dirty clothes are bigger, but my suitcase is always a little more difficult to zip on the return trip!


Do not go into detail about horrendous traffic, mid-trip car fights or any other negative talk about traveling to the home of a loved one. This will just make your host feel unappreciated and like you don’t really want to be there, spending Thanksgiving with them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s