The holidays: a magical time for togetherness, making memories, and, of course, family fights in cramped rental cars. We all dream of the perfect snuggly family getaway, but we know the reality – holiday travel with kids is about as peaceful as a WWE cage match. Between sibling arguments, airport meltdowns, and you excavating leftover Goldfish from under the car seats, ’tis the season for adventure, whether you like it or not!
But don’t start stress-eating the peppermint bark just yet! With some planning and hacks up your sleeve, we can get through the holiday hustle and bustle more smoothly. So grab an eggnog, and let’s get rolling on tips for making your family holiday travel a little less North Pole and a little more tropical paradise.
Book flights now!
Prices tend to rise closer to the holidays. In some years, we have seen increases of $40 a day leading up to Christmas. So do not hesitate to get your bookings completed. I highly suggest confirming your flight and seats, as airlines will overbook their flights during the holidays.
Choose kid-friendly accommodations.
Look for hotels or vacation rentals with amenities like indoor pools, games, and activities to keep kids occupied. We also love places that offer kitchenettes and laundry facilities, especially over longer trips. This way, we can make our meals since kids can often be picky eaters and do some laundry to make life easier upon returning home. The last thing we want is to go home with a ton of dirty laundry following the holidays.
Make a list of what you plan to pack ahead of time. I use my phone notes and write down everything we need. That way, when packing, I can mark it off the list. For travel by car, I will often grab new car-friendly books and toys that I wrap for the girls to open throughout the road trip. This is always a fun way to break up the trip and add excitement if stuck in the car for hours. It also gets them off the devices for some of the ride. Consider shipping gifts to your destination if you are shopping for family. This is when Amazon, Target, and Walmart come in handy! Regardless of how we travel, we always bring snacks, water bottles, the kid’s iPads, and Tonies.
Check transportation options.
We have always found it easier to have our own vehicle when traveling with the family. So typically, we rent a car when we fly to a destination within the country. We love to use rental apps, such as Turo, that allow us to rent a minivan and even car seats. Always go with an option with great reviews, and we prefer “All-Star Host,” meaning they have done enough rentals where they received positive enough reviews to achieve that title.
Schedule in downtime.
Travel can be tiring for kids and adults. Try to balance activities with pool time or rest time at the hotel. Kids may need more downtime than usual while traveling.
Keep holiday traditions.
If you traditionally bake cookies, wrap presents, or read certain books, try incorporating those traditions into your holiday travels. Maintaining some consistency will help make the trip feel special.
Look, we get it – The holidays are supposed to be full of merry memories, not meltdowns! But with some planning, flexibility, and a bunch of patience (and snacks), you can totally make it through family holiday travel with your sanity intact. Arm yourself with activities, embrace the chaos, and remember – the most imperfect pics will be the ones you laugh about forever. Focus on building traditions, making memories, and indulging in holiday treats. Before you know it, you’ll be back home with a heart and camera full of memories.