Holiday Travel Tips for Families
Some families look forward to travel time during the holiday season. Getting together with family to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. Others anticipate some stress mixed in with good times. Traveling with kids, especially small kids, can be challenging. However, it can also be a lot of fun. Here are some holiday travel tips for families to cut down on stress and increase enjoyment.
Limit travel time.
Pick a place that doesn’t require you to be in an airplane or car for more than 5 hours at a time. Limit layovers and connecting flights. If your family lives far away, suggest a spot halfway where everyone can meet. When the kids are young, plan for emergency bathroom breaks and bring plenty of snacks.
Prepare ahead of time.
Give the kids some idea about where you’re going. This includes fun historical or pop culture trivia about the area. You can find this online, usually on a city or town’s main website. Also, go over a list of expectations for your kids. They should know how their parents expect them to behave and what the consequences will be if they don’t.
Eat and drink locally.
Part of the fun of visiting new places is trying new things. This can be more than culinary – you can try new experiences for sure. But try to incorporate local restaurants and cuisine into your itinerary. Make it a fun family tradition to try at least one new thing at every meal. Even if you all share it. This broadens a child’s horizons and can be a fun change of pace for parents, too.
Make it a group thing.
Include other family members on holiday trips. If you all get along and enjoy each other’s company, extra relatives are a benefit. For example, they can help watch the kids. Additionally, you can all combine resources to make meals, share expenses, and so much more.
Allow yourself to deviate from the schedule. If you spot a zoo, park or activity you didn’t know was available – add it to your schedule! Pull over while driving to enjoy a beautiful view. Add in some extra time in one area because you didn’t realize a friend lives nearby. It will add to the joy of traveling if you’re open to changes.
Let kids help plan.
As children get older, allow them to be part of the process. Give them some options about what to do in a particular area. Let them choose what restaurants to visit. It’s their vacation, too, after all.
Enjoy something different.
If you’re visiting a place that’s unique in some way, take advantage of it. Mountains to hike and you live near the ocean? Bring some boots for walking! And vice versa. Really enjoy the change of scenery.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinations for children ages 5 and up. This helps families planning long-awaited, and probably postponed, holiday travel.
When in public, with people who may or may not be vaccinated, practice safety precautions. Both you and your children should wear face masks and maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from others. Bring hand sanitizers and wipes as well.
Pack lots of snacks, water and toys.
Hungry and bored kids are cranky kids. Most airports and gas stations will allow you to fill water bottles for free. Zip lock bags full of nuts, raisins and granola can easily fit inside travel bags. They’re also less expensive than purchasing along the way. Additionally, small toys and stuffed animals can be used to entertain when needed.
Take snapshots of medical records.
These can be used to show proof of vaccinations since birth. But it can also hold important information such as illnesses, meds or allergies. This is helpful in case of an emergency.
Research hospitals or clinics in the area.
This is especially helpful if you have a child with medical issues. Be sure to pack any medications or first aid supplies to bring along with you.
Stay with relatives.
This will save you money, not only on lodging, but on meals and laundry too. You can also help pitch in with chores to make it easier on your host. This gives you extra time to make fun memories, stay up late and do more activities together.
But…consider other accommodations if necessary.
If the priority is to save your mental health, rather than a few dollars, explore some options. Holiday travel tips should always be adjusted depending on the unique circumstances of your family, and this is no different. Hotels and motels are an idea. There are also less expensive options. For instance, check out a local bed & breakfast or home exchange.
Plan a party.
If you’re traveling home, for example, and want to see a ton of friends and family – plan an event. Parties can be at a family home, park or venue. This will help you and your kids visit with as many people as possible without having to drive around for days on end.
Email your schedule ahead of time.
Let loved ones know where you’re going to be and invite them to join you. Be sure to leave time open for last-minute adventures or visits.
Safety-proof wherever you go.
Wherever you’re staying, make sure safety comes first. Don’t expect older relatives, or family without kids, to supply what you need. Bring car seats, furniture guards, outlet covers, etc. And always provide adequate supervision.
Don’t forget to relax.
Make sure you plan for downtime. This can be something as simple as a daily walk with just your children and partner. Or afternoon naps for tired little ones. Remember that you all are out of your element. You’re also probably eating more and sleeping less than you normally do. So factor in rest times each day to recharge those batteries. Everyone will feel better as a result.
Properly planning travel time with family can lessen stress. It can also maximize good time. These holiday travel tips will hopefully ensure everyone has a great vacation this season. Safe travels!