Make the Most out of Your Thanksgiving Holiday Travels

Make the Most out of Your Thanksgiving Holiday Travels

With Thanksgiving comes the promise of family gatherings, second helpings of gravy and stuffing (my personal favorite of all the holiday carbs), and meeting family and loved ones on the landscape of reunions and “How’s work?” inquiries.

But one barrier stands between you and that table of plenty: travel.

Whether you are driving, flying, or even hosting a Thanksgiving Day gathering, there is work to be done and time, effort, and patience spent before earning your seat at the table with your sanity intact.

For productivity hounds out there, how can you make the most of that travel time in the context of personal growth? How can you take back those lost hours and give something back to your own development? How do you free up and take control of the minutes and hours trapped in the pain of traveling?

Thanks to the lightning pace of mobile technology proliferation (electrical and computer engineers are among the groups of innovators that I will be giving thanks to this November), everything from standing in line to fighting interstate traffic has never been more productive.

Finding Your Cornucopia of Salvageable Time
Before we talk what, let’s talk where. Where will you be locked in potentially mind-numbingly frustrating time traps? 

  • If you are the host: grocery store lines (was that four cans of cranberry sauce or five?); watching the stove for your ham or turkey to reach peak perfection; stoplights; searching for parking spots at your local wholesale club.
  • If you are on your way: baggage claim carousels (my personal purgatory); ticketing kiosks at the airport; waiting for mass transit; in the car during <insert favorite traffic aggravation here>.

Occupy: You
Now that you have some ideas as to where those time traps are waiting to ambush you (feel free to add your own), here are some sources of micro-productivity in the name of bettering yourself, broadening your mind, and taking to heart the NSPE Code of Ethics Section III.9.e in a very personal way.

  • Audiobooks: All those business best sellers you’ve been meaning to read but could never quite find the time? Snag a book of choice in CD format, or better yet, download apps like Audible and always have a library of audio books in your pocket whose professional narrators are just a finger tap away. Great for parallel learning while you’re in transit in a cab, up in the air, or braving the holiday traffic on your own.
  • Magazines on your tablet device: Tablet devices are especially handy for magazines and news publications with illustrations, diagrams, and other visual information. Catch up on your subscriptions and start absorbing. (Me? I’m only eight days behind now on my Kindle subscription to Financial Times.)
  • An entire library in your pocket: Just as Steve Jobs helped the world reach 1,000 songs in our pockets, virtually every mobile smartphone platform has an e-book app. Instead of an armful of hardbacks, plowing through those books you’ve been meaning to get to has never been more convenient. In line at the checkout counter? Knock out a couple of pages. Need to catch your breath while preparing your Thanksgiving banquet? Pull up a chair to the island and get through a half chapter or so. E-reading capability on mobile phones has now made micro-reading possible and entire books can be consumed a minute at a time before you can say “pass the gravy boat.”
  • A book in the hand is worth two on the shelf: That’s how the saying goes, isn’t it? If you prefer the still-wonderful feel of a physical book or magazine in your hand (who doesn’t!), then you are only limited by the space in your laptop bag (or by the strength of your shoulders). Grab that book off your office shelf or that magazine on your coffee table that’s become an oversized coaster. The best part about “real” books, technical journals, and magazines? You don’t have to “set them to the off position” once the boarding door has closed. They are always in airplane mode.

And one last caveat before I get in trouble with your family: these tips are to help get you to the holiday feast in the name of productivity. But once you’re at the table, phones and devices down, glasses up, holiday spirits out and passed around the table. (Okay, you’re off the hook now.)

And as for recouping available time the day after the big meal? That’s what leftovers are for.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Published November 20, 2013 by Austin Lin

Filed under: Young Engineers, Thanksgiving,

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributable to the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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