Traveling during the holiday period is exhausting! There’s no point pretending it’s not, but you can make your trip a little bit easier if you follow some simple tips to prepare for and then take a holiday trip that will make lasting memories for everyone in the family!
Planning your trip
If you can manage it, try and skew your travel dates OFF of the peak ones. Everyone wants to be on an airplane or train in the two days before Christmas, so if you can leave a few days before that and come home a few days before everyone else does, your travel will be less frantic AND less expensive!
Double check documentation for everyone LONG before your trip: you don’t want to find out at the last minute that your ID or passport is going to expire mid trip!
If you’re going to visit family and you’re staying with them, make sure you talk to them about kid proofing their space if they’re not used to having little ones around. You can offer to bring whatever is needed, but it is best to know ahead of time vs. frantically running to the store upon arrival. Obviously, you can do a walk through when you get there, but Aunt Ida won’t appreciate her figurine collection being smashed, so best to warn her to put them out of reach for the time that you are visiting.
Also consider things like stair gates, high chairs and portable cribs. These are safety items you take for granted in your own home but which Uncle Fred might not have handy, so if you’re not driving and can’t bring some along, see if you can borrow what you need from other family members!
Don’t forget to plan for your pets! The holiday season might be too hectic a time for them to travel with you, regardless of your mode of transportation, so you might be better off booking a pet sitter or a room at a pet hotel! The good ones book early, so get in your request soon!
Book your rental car well in advance, if you’re getting one, and double check your reservation in the days before leaving. Same goes for your hotel or any other services you’re going to be needing while you’re gone.
Packing tips for every type of travel
One great way to save on your baggage costs, if you’re going to a destination vacation, is to ship some things ahead of time. Like what? Cans of formula, diapers, and other items that are bulky but necessary.
If you’re traveling with babies/toddlers, try and keep your stroller with you as long as possible. It’s much easier to keep control over everything if you know exactly where all your people are!
Don’t forget to pack snacks, treats and toys, and fully loaded screens, if you have them. The more ways you can distract the kids, particularly for long flights, the better. And make sure you have medications and enough diapers and formula to allow for a delay on the tarmac or elsewhere. After all, ‘tis the season for bad weather too!
Bus / Train:
The tips for these are pretty much the same as for an airplane. Overpacking and having to lug too many bags will only make the trip more stressful so pare down what you bring to that which is absolutely necessary.
When you’re traveling in your own vehicle, you can certainly pack with less restraint. Just leave the kitchen sink at home though, okay? The extras like a baby gate for stairs or your youngest’s whole stuffed animal family CAN make the trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s. That said, traveling by car isn’t a novelty for most families and the ‘are we there yet’ questions might start coming sooner than you think if you’re not prepared!
Just as for other types of travel, pack treats and snacks, toys, and screens galore but also do a little planning! Make sure you plan in some stops, either for sightseeing or just to take a break from being inside the car along the way. And never, ever forget a pair of earphones for everyone who is in the back seat! It will make the trip more peaceful for everyone!
Don’t forget your emergency kit, however, since driving at the holidays can mean some bad weather: blankets, supplies, flares, hand warmers, and snacks
Unless you’re driving your own car, a good thing to have along with you is a portable booster seat like BubbleBum that you can pop into Grandpa’s car or the rental quickly and easily. It packs down to the size of a book and inflates in a few seconds for easy use! You can put several in the backseat of most automobiles, accommodating kids who are old enough to use them without the hassle of carrying around a bulky traditional booster seat.
For smaller kids, make sure their car seat is properly set up and clipped in, whether in a rental vehicle or Uncle Joe’s car.
Stay organized and make sure essentials are always with you, like medication, documentation and a change of clothing, in case bags get lost or left behind somewhere. There’s nothing worse than starting a trip with something going wrong, so minimize the impact of any problems by planning ahead and being prepared. Last but not least, enjoy your trip! Even if the traveling is hectic, keep your eye on the prize: eggnog and a roaring fire, presents, and the love of family and friends!
Grainne Kelly is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician who revolutionized the child travel industry by inventing BubbleBum: the world’s FIRST inflatable car booster seat that weighs less than one pound and can deflate in minutes, making it simple to throw in a backpack or purse. It is the perfect travel companion for holiday road trips, everyday use, vacations, cab/Uber/Lyft rides, fly-ins with car rental, and more.