Welcome to Blogmas 2017! Ruth from www.havekiddoswilltravel.net is joining us today with tips on how to travel with kids this holiday season! Be sure to stop by and say. “hi” to her!
Traveling with children during the busy vacation season can be an exhausting and even dare I say a traumatizing experience. Prior to having children, my husband and I took turns traveling to spend the Christmas Holiday with my parents or extended family. We would hop on a Christmas Eve flight to Florida, Washington DC, Virginia or Maryland and enjoy an adult focused, memory filled vacation where we were spoiled, fed, rested and stayed out late with friends reminiscing about childhood and college memories. After welcoming our first born, we longed to wake up in our own beds on Christmas morning, yet felt that she was too young to remember and thus, creating memories with family outweighed the negatives of leaving our warmly decorated home to live out of a suitcase throughout Christmas and New Year. We continued this pace until our second child was one and our first-born was three. Suddenly, I struggled through conflicting emotions of wanting to maintain close extended family connections and the desire to create our own immediate family traditions. After much dialogue and reflection, a compromise was reached.
A Path to Creative Family Traditions
Our first tradition was staying home for Thanksgiving annually and cooking from scratch our own meal while using recipes from both sides of our family. Our children get up early on Thanksgiving Day to help their Papi prep the brined turkey for the oven. Some years, we are blessed to have family or friends from out of town join us at our Thanksgiving table, but for the most part it’s about our immediate family. The Friday after Thanksgiving is the kick off to our Christmas traditions. We bundle up and go to our favorite farm to pick out the perfect tree. While playing Christmas music, the tree is carefully decorated with ornaments, which we have collected throughout the years from every location that we’ve checked off our family travel bucket list. We love reminiscing about our honeymoon in Hawaii as we hang the pineapple ornament and share the many memories that coincide with the Christmas trips taken prior to having children.
Now that we have four kids, we do in fact stay home for Christmas Eve. We go to church and cook our big Christmas meal that evening. Our children are allowed to open their stockings before bed on Christmas Eve and we tuck them in and make them promise not to wake up until 7 AM on Christmas Day. We open gifts as a family and spend the majority of Christmas Day in our PJs, throwing on outfits in time for a late dinner with friends. Our official Holiday travel doesn’t start until Christmas night. This allows our kids to slow down and savor the day as well as spend time as a family prior to moving into the hustle and bustle of holiday travel. We are known to take road trips to MA, PA, DC or even ski trips to Northern New England. We’ve also traveled to Orlando to spend time with my parents and go to Disney World. A note to my readers, this is my least favorite week to go to Disney World. You can enjoy all of the Christmas decorations and festivities by going to Disney World in November and early December without all the crowds and aggravation that comes along with the week between Christmas and New Year. Trust me, don’t do it. Please plan a trip anywhere else during the holiday break. I know that I digressed, but I’m adamant about preventing families from creating negative family memories, hindering their interest in future family trips.
Large Family Approved Guide to Holiday Family Travel
- There is no such thing as being overprepared when traveling with children during the busiest season of the year. Our family has taken December vacations to warm locations, ski resorts and have celebrated duplicate holidays with family between Christmas and the first week in January. Packing for any of these destinations for a family of six requires a serious packing list and the strategic use of layers. The experienced family globetrotter checks the list twice.
- If you’re traveling prior to Christmas Eve and are visiting family or going to a location that accommodates deliveries, use Amazon Prime or other online shopping service to send small gifts, toiletries, baby wipes, diapers and other essentials to your destination resort (you can even ship water, snacks and essentials to Disney properties). This strategy will reduce your luggage and minimize stress.
- Pack your child’s lovie. If your child doesn’t have a comfort item, I highly recommend the Angel Dear Napping Blanket. Our kids each have one and they are globetrotting lovies, having accompanying us on all of our family vacations.
- Allow your child to pack a small gift with them if you’re opening presents at home on Christmas Day and then immediately departing on a trip. We’ve done this with our children and it leads to complete buy in when discussing travel plans requiring us to depart on Christmas Day or the day after. Our kids each have a lightweight backpack that they use to pack their lovie, headphones, water bottle, snacks, journal, book and one toy. They’re responsible for packing their bag, which I secretly go through prior to leaving, as I’m not carrying anyone’s backpack through a busy airport.
- Learn to say no and don’t travel out of obligation during the holidays. I’ve often told new parents that traveling with children is not a vacation, but rather a trip. Accept it, embrace it and travel with them anyway. The memories are worthwhile. The amount of planning, energy and coordination required to travel during the holidays with little people is physically exhausting. The only way to not grow to recent all of the work involved is to only travel if you are enthusiastic about the location and the people that you’ll be fellowshipping with.
- If you’re flying domestically during the winter break, make sure to book your flights early and consider flying from a nearby airport if it allows you to travel nonstop at a more affordable rate.
As you prepare your family’s hearts for the holiday season, I encourage you to play traditional Christmas music if that’s the holiday that you celebrate. There is something to be said for centering our hearts and spirits on the reason for the season. I wish you peace and safe travels wherever your adventures lead you, and like my grandmother use to say “vallan con Dios” which translates to “Go with God!”
Ruth is a wife and mami of 4 active and globe-trotting kids. She’s always loved a good adventure and truly believes that it’s possible to not only travel with, but actually enjoy traveling with children. Join her, as she shares their adventures and inspires you to get out of the house with your kiddos. www.havekiddoswilltravel.net
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