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Holiday Travel Tips For The Whole Family

Written by Tiana Lewis

Photography by Image Via Man Repeller

Packed mall parking lots, winter weather advisories, and airport delays, oh my! No matter where you live, what the weather brings, or what your family dynamic looks like, traveling for the holidays can often end up being one huge mess. Add babies, little kids, and even teenagers (not to mention gift wrapping, meal prepping, and your usual holiday to-dos) to the mix, and your stress levels might just be through the roof. But, have no fear! We’ve put together a list of helpful tips and reminders for traveling with family members of all ages, sizes, and tantrum levels this season. And, regardless of if you’re making your journey by plane or car, or perhaps hosting guests doing their own traveling this year, you’ll be prepped and ready for it all this holiday season.

Traveling By Car
1. Plan ahead. Whether you’re counting on good ol’ Google Maps to get you to your destination or you know the way by heart, be sure and get your route planned far in advance. Check the Internet ahead of time for traffic jams, detours, and road work if need be. And, make sure to get on the road with plenty of time to spare. If you can, start early and avoid rush hour. Make sure your phone is fully charged, and that you have a backup charger in case of emergencies or wrong turns.

2. Take Safety Seriously. When was the last time your car had an oil change? Does it need windshield wiper fluid? How about an inspection of your breaks? If you’re hitting the road by way of automobile, be sure and take any necessary precautions to ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top driving shape. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Additionally, be sure and stockpile safety essentials in the car in case of an emergency. Think: a flashlight, bottled water, and jumper cables.

3. Pack Your Littlest’s Bag. If you’re traveling with young children and you can manage it, get your little one’s diaper bag prepped and ready with all the essentials the night before. Whether it’s extra bottles of milk, your pump, diapers and wipes, or a few bribe-y toddler snacks, make sure you keep all of these necessary items out of the trunk at at close reach for easy access and a smooth ride. Pro tip: Be sure to pack extras of everything, as many youngsters’ items have a tendency to disappear, even within a small car.

4. Bring Entertainment For All. Regardless of if your kids are two or 20, chances are they’ll need to be entertained. We understand that many families have different rules for screen time, so be sure to pack plenty of other alternatives besides the iPad, like books, toys, verbal games to play as a family, and even crafts. For more ideas on the topic, be sure to check out 10+ Ways To Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling.

5. Take Breaks. Everyone needs a break every now and again during long car rides. Try taking a few extra at rest stops with lots of space, so that your kids can stretch their legs and let off a bit of steam. This helps to avoid total meltdowns and seemingly incurable boredom.

Traveling By Plane
1. Check-In Early. Many airlines have the option to check into your flight early and download your boarding passes. If given this option, be sure and take it. This helps avoid long lines at the ticket counter, and wasted time at the airport in general. Be sure and get the 4-1-1 on the baggage situation, too. If you have teenagers, remind them of the weight limit for checked bags. And, for younger kids, decide what will be carried on the plane, and what’s flying underneath. Being as organized as possible helps alleviate any stressors that may arise in crowded security lines.

2. Encourage Kids Of All Ages To Pack Their Own Bags. During the holidays, it seems like all moms’ to-do lists are pages long. To take a load off of your shoulders, encourage kids of all ages (elementary to high school) to pack their own carry-on bag. You may have to do a once-over in the end, but allowing them a bit of responsibility and freedom will foster independence. Let them bring along their favorite snacks, toys, and games, so that the entertainment portion is covered for the entire flight!

3. Dress Appropriately. Some airports are hot, others are freezing. Make sure that every member of your family has plenty of layers for shedding and putting back on depending on the temps of the plane. It’s also helpful to pack extra outfits and essentials in your carry-on (think: toothbrush, contact solution, diapers, etc.) just in case there is a delay, or worse, a cancellation.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help. With the insane amount of baby gear that us mamas are required to travel with, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need when you need it. Whether that’s from your partner, in-law, or even the employees that work for the airline, the entire operation is sure to run much more smoothly if you swallow your pride, speak up, and have a few extra pairs of hands in the end.

5. Don’t Forget Yourself! It’s all too easy in the hustle and bustle of this hectic season to forget your own needs. Once everyone else has all their luggage in order, be sure to pack everything that will keep you sane and entertained as well. Perhaps it’s a new book you’ve been dying to pick up, or a healthy snack to avoid greasy airport food. Whatever the case may be, make sure that you’re thinking of your needs, too, mom!

Hosting Travelers
1. Prepare The Guest Quarters. Regardless of if you’re able to offer an air mattress or an entire guest suite, make sure that everything is in order when your traveling guests arrive. They’re sure to be exhausted upon arrival, so things like clean linens, fluffed pillows, and easily accessible bath towels are a must. If you want to go the extra mile, be sure that they have access to an area to put their things and plenty of outlets for their electronics.

2. Stock The House. When you speak to your guests before they arrive, try getting a gauge for the things they’ll need during their stay. Stock the house with plenty of essentials, items like tooth brushes, extra blankets, and plenty of snacks and water. And, if they have small children, why not go the extra mile and have extra diapers, toys, and games on-hand?

3. Kid-Proof Your House. Regardless of if you have children yourself or if this is the first time someone under the age of 18 has stepped foot in your domain, try giving your place a good once-over for anything that could be potentially harmful to kids or fragile to you. Think: outlets, cords, and breakable heirlooms. This will help ensure that your home is not only a cheerful place to be this holiday season, but also safe for all parties involved.

4. Be Patient. If your guests are traveling with babies or young children, they’ve likely had a long journey to get to you. Be patient with all of your guests. Jetlag can get the best of any individual, but even more so a baby. Try practicing patience and understanding as best as you can!

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