From the Thanks giving four day weekend to the day of epiphany on January 6th, the holiday season for many people involves packing the entire family into their vehicle and driving somewhere to see relatives. Coming along with everyone is often a plethora of gifts intended to be given out at the appropriate time, depending on the individual customs, traditions, and beliefs each family may have. Taking those gifts over a long distance can sometimes be challenging!
Having accomplished this holiday feat myself with four toddlers in tow, here are some of our best practices that we’ve developed to keep our family safe and our packages safe during our travels. That way we can know for certain that each gift can be given to its intended recipient!
5 Travel Tips For Keeping Holiday Gifts Safe:
#1 – Don’t Display Gifts Out In the Open
Unless you’re just driving an hour or two, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need to stop somewhere. With young kids, there are times you’re stopping every 10 minutes to find the closest bathroom, right? I’ve even smuggled kids into a reservation casino to get them to go to the bathroom on time! What happens when you’re doing this kid smuggling to the toilet, however, is that your vehicle is left out in the open in an unknown area. Sometimes that means a big parking lot. It might mean a rest stop along the highway.
Whatever the case may be, there are going to be eyes on you from the moment you get out of your vehicle. People invariably look into vehicles, sometimes with nefarious intentions, sometimes just because they want to fix their hair in the reflection of your window. A great gift can be a very tempting target for those who might not have thought about a quick theft before! Keep your gifts out of the open while you travel and you’ll eliminate that visual temptation. We often bring blankets and towels to cover things up just to eliminate that one brief moment someone might be tempted.
#2 – Can You Ship Your Gifts Ahead of Time?
Thanks to Black Friday specials, shopping online is easier and cheaper than ever before. Many websites offer the opportunity to ship items to your preferred address for free with no minimum order, which takes traveling with those packages out of the equation. Some websites even offer gift wrapping for a small fee! Including a personal message is also an option so that the impersonal nature of a brown box arriving on a doorstep is tempered just a bit.
Having a delivery, however, doesn’t necessarily mean your package is safe. All it takes is a few moments for someone to drive by a home, realize that someone isn’t home, and decide to swipe the package that’s on the doorstep. For that reason, if we are shipping gifts, we require a signature to prove delivery. For more expensive gifts, we also invest in shipping insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances.
#3 – Wrapped Gifts Are Still Tempting Targets
Not thinking anything of it, I tossed a wrapped package containing a baseball glove into the back of our van as I got the kids buckled into their car seats. We were headed to the store first to pick up something to bring to a potluck, then going to hand the gift to someone there. I forgot to lock the doors of the van – well… I hit the unlock button on the remote instead of the locking button, didn’t realize it, and showed up at the potluck without a gift in the back of the van. The thief was nice, though – they left me the ripped wrapping paper.
Wrapping paper doesn’t provide any security for your gift. If anything, it makes it stand out even more! Though we laugh about the fact that parents will give their kids underwear for Christmas [since we do this ourselves to our kids], the chances are good that a present is going to be something great – not something mundane. Add another level of security to your wrapped gifts, whether it is by being out of sight, in your trunk, or even just under a seat, and oh yeah – maybe make sure your doors have locked!
#4 – Kids and Presents Don’t Seem To Mix
It only takes that one pothole to make all your plans go into the circular file! After giving my kids some string cheese and juice packs, I got back out on the road again and promptly managed to hit a divot in the road. The van bounced, the juice packs went up in the air, and then they came down onto the gifts. They didn’t spill, so I thought I was in the clear… until about three miles down the road I hit another bump.
Then a juice pack got in-between a couple packages and got squished. We handed out cherry flavored presents that year and got lots of comments about our ability to spread holiday cheer through smell too. If you can, separate the kids from the gifts. It’ll help to prevent a cherry scented semi-disaster later on!
#5 – Take “Fragile” Seriously
As much as you’d like to think you’re watching your kids 24/7, the real fact is that they are sneaky creatures of the night who know your habits and know with absolute certainty when they’ve got a moment, with your back turned, to shake a present. Different gifts make different sounds, of course, and put enough of those sounds together, you’ll get a kid-pleasing symphony instruments.
Fragile gifts and travel just don’t mix very well, especially if you’re traveling with kids. It’s nice to give Grandma Agnes some crystal, but pick it up after you arrive there would be my best advice. There have been too many incidents of vehicle vibrating, kid induced breakage.
As you travel around to see your family this holiday season, of course drive safely, but also keep these travel tips in the top of your mind. That way you and your gifts will arrive safely… and you can have a holiday gathering to remember!