5 Holiday Travel Tips for Families

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As the holiday season approaches, consider how you can make family travel more fun and less stressful.

5 Holiday Travel Tips for Families - Tips from a seasoned mom and traveler on how to make the best trip with kids.

I love November and December. They are probably two of my favorite months on the calendar, namely because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. The holidays can be such fun! Now that my sister Janel has moved back to California, it’s even more fun since there are cousins to play with.

In a few weeks our family will be heading to Santa Ynez to visit one set of grandparents for Thanksgiving and to Santa Clarita in December to visit the other set. It’s been a few weeks since our big European vacation, so I think our family will be ready to hit the road once again.

We put a lot of miles on our suitcases this fall. If anything, it’s given us a travel bug itch. FishPapa and I are trying to tweak the budget so that we can save up for another big trip. In the meantime, we’ll content ourselves with some California road trips.

If you’re hitting the road with kids this holiday season consider these travel tips:

1. Plan early.

If you don’t have your travel plans and reservations secured, do it now. I learned the hard way that she who hesitates pays more for train tickets or can’t stay in the hotel of her choice. Early planning and booking can save you a bundle.

2. Pack light.

You’re already going to be hauling Christmas stuff and probably winter coats, right? Don’t pack more clothing than you need. There are washing machines practically everywhere. We packed carry-on size luggage for each of us for a month and we lived to tell the tale.

If you’re going to Gramma’s for a weekend or even a week, you don’t need to pack half your kid’s wardrobe. Trust me. Pack light.

5 Holiday Travel Tips for Families - Tips from a seasoned mom and traveler on how to make the best trip with kids.

3. Load up on reading material and entertainment.

If you’ve got long car rides, layovers, or plane flights, stock yourself with reading material. Try out Kindle Unlimited if you haven’t already. For $10 you can load ten FREE books at a time on your device.

We did this for France with great success. Since we have multiple devices on one account, it meant that more than one of us could be reading at a time. We were able to travel light (see point 2 again) and still have plenty of entertainment.

Making sure we had a small bag of lego, a few iPods, and some handheld games in addition to the girls’ busy book really helped keep boredom at bay and made our travel much more enjoyable, especially when waiting for planes and trains.

4. Pack the potty stuff.

If you’ve got little ones who still need a little potty assistance, be sure to pack all their gear. We had a couple kids at that age who would. not. go. if they didn’t have a potty seat insert and their special wipes. It’s no fun to have a constipated kid and/or have Nanna run to Kmart in the middle of the night for replacements.

The girls and I loved having these potty seat covers on our trip. They were perfect for all the public toilets we visited.

5. Take food and meds with you.

We’ve found that we feel better and save money when we pack food for our trips. No matter where we are, having a few snacks on hand is always helpful. Our travel snack pack was super helpful for day trips and for making cheap meals in the hotel at night. I dug into our travel first aid kit on more than one occasion to dose sea urchin stings, colds, allergies, and headaches.

While you can often find what you need at your destination, I have found that my anxiety level drops tremendously when I know we have the basics on hand.

These are simple things that do take a bit of advance planning, but they can make your family vacation so much more pleasant, particularly during the busy holiday season.

What makes your family travel more fun?

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  1. There was one thing we really had to press home with our relatives when our girls were toddlers: more is less. All the relatives loved our girls and wanted to show them a good time. when we visited They often tried to cram too many activities into one day. By the time 3 o’clock rolled around they were exhausted and cranky, which was no fun for anyone. It took some time, but we finally convinced them that simple activities were fine. As far as my kids were concerned getting to stay at Grandma’s, tossing a ball in the backyard with Grandpa or having cookies and milk while telling silly jokes with their uncle was a grand adventure.

  2. So true about the meds. The one time l didn’t pack children’s ibprofren we needed it for our 1 year old who got an ear infection at 1am in a hotel out of town stuck without a vehicle. The hotel only had adult meds and the closest store was too far for their shuttle to take us.

  3. Good thoughts – did I miss a review of your travel wardrobe? I look forward to hearing how it worked for you. And how you did with allergy friendly snack buying in Europe as well!

    It’s obvious you did very well – but I also think you did invaluable prep work at home, talking about how things would be, having french night etc – great job!

    1. I did this post on my clothes: http://lifeasmom.com/2014/10/a-moms-capsule-wardrobe-for-travel.html It all worked really well, because despite what commenters feared, we had fabulous weather, putting my shorts and skirts to great use. There were a couple days I wished I had a hat and gloves and a warmer coat, but I think there were only three days like that and I was able to make do.

      No allergic reactions whatsoever. A few disappointed moments when she couldn’t have something, but we always find an alternative. We did do a lot of planning. Thanks for asking!

      1. Glad to hear it!!! I must’ve had a busy day when the clothing article came out – off to read –