How Do You Cope With Holiday Travel And Traffic?

Let's make those long road trips and frantic flying days a little more bearable.

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There’s no secret to a perfect holiday commute when everyone else is on the road or in the air at the same time, for the same reason as you. Despite your best efforts, it’s probably going to suck. But we make the most of it every single year, for good reason. Today’s question is about managing the stress of holiday travel and traffic.

When I was little, in the age before everyone having a competent GPS in their pocket at all times, my dad used to drive my family from our house in New Jersey all the way out to my aunt’s house in the middle of Long Island for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This normally two-and-a-half-hour-ish journey could take more like three-plus or even four, especially on Thanksgiving.

My dad’s a pretty straightforward guy; somebody needed to drive, so he did it. My mom would manage the stress by planning, which for her was quickly switching between all of New York City’s local traffic and weather stations to figure out which bridge or highway was jammed at any given moment. As is often the case especially along the I-495 corridor, oftentimes all of them would be, so I don’t recall this helping much.


I, a fidgety kid who easily got carsick, would just try to sleep the whole trip away. When iPods and MP3 players became a thing, I was that moody teenager sitting in the backseat until my ears hurt from those damn pack-in headphones Apple used to give you.

Depending on the year, my family would split up; I’d wind up in the car with my two older brothers which, of course, is the way cooler car you’d much rather be in as a kid. And those rides definitely seemed to go a little faster. For one, the music tended to be better.


Everyone’s holiday travel routine is a little different — how do you make the best of yours? This year, parts of my family picked up COVID within the last week, so we probably won’t be convening; also, the aunt we used to visit suddenly passed away last year. These days, I look back on those three-hour-plus car rides fondly.

Let us know how you cope with or make the best of your holiday travels in the comments below. We’ll put together some of the best answers later today.