Need some tips for stress-free holiday travel? Okay, maybe stress-free is overstating things a bit, but how about making this a little bit less stressful this holiday travel season? Yes, sounds good to me too.
Here are a few ideas on how to make holiday travel less stressful.
1) Hand-Held Electronics
I don’t care if you buy your kids an iPad, a DS, a five dollar Yahtzee game from Target or if you dig out your old GameBoy or thumb football game, this investment is worth it. I don’t even care if you just hand your kid the phone you have and let him Facetime with Grandma for six hours (this only works if you have very few children). I have taken my twins on many, many road trips back and forth between Washington D.C. and Florida and hand-held electronics are totally a life saver.
Just make sure you have chargers or extra batteries. Trust me on this one.
2) Don’t Be Afraid to Stop
The younger your children are, the more important this is. If you are driving, even if it is only three hours, stop the car and get out and walk around for five minutes. Many rest stops, or even fast food restaurants have playground and we all need to stretch a little bit, especially those of us in a five point harness. So you show up at your destination at 2:45 instead of 2:10? Totally worth it if you can make the trip without a meltdown.
3) Non-Stop Flights
Now, I know this can be more expensive and if you are on a very tight budget, please disrgard this one and move on to the next item on the list, but if you have the means, and one is available, a non-stop flight cuts stress levels in half. ESPECIALLY WITH KIDS. It is one flight instead of two or three and you only have to takeoff and land once, which is huge for both kids that don’t know how to pop their ears and adults with flying anxiety. Plus, the airline is far less likely to lose your luggage.
Books! Books! Books! Paper books, ebooks, comic books, board books… it doesn’t matter. Books are an awesome way to kill time and if you get them at the library they are free. Of course if you the person driving, please see #6.
5) Continental Breakfast
If this is a multi-day driving extravaganza, you can save yourself some stress by finding a hotel that offers a continental breakfast. First of all, it can save you a lot of money, especially if you have a lot of people in your family. Second of all, it can save time and the stress of figuring out what to eat. Third of all, you can get a waffle and a banana and your daughter can eat a bowl of cereal and your son can have a bagel and you don’t have to fight about McDonalds vs. Burger King. See also: free coffee.
6) Audio Books
Again for the long car trip, did you know you can subscribe to audiobook services? It is true. They get new books all of the time, but I can do even better than that. FREE BOOKS ON CD AT THE LIBRARY. If you have kids, try something in the Harry Potter series or maybe The Hobbit. Littler kids? They have audio books with hard books that the kids can look at while the narrator is reading. Teenagers? Suzanne Collins. Babies? Heck, if you have a baby you can listen to whatever you want, they won’t remember a thing. I used to nurse and watch “Deadwood” and my kids are fine. Sort of.
7) Drive at Night
If you are a night person, try this – start your car trip one evening after dinner. Drive late into the night while the kids sleep. This is awesome. Alternately, if you are a morning person, get up at 4:00am and beat traffic out of town. Also, your kids and also possibly your spouse will sleep for at least two more hours. Peace and quiet.
If I were to have a Bill and Ted moment, and I could go back in time and tell my younger self one thing it would be this: sometimes those hotels that are all suites are only about $9 more a night than a regular hotel, this way if you have little kids and you have to stop driving at 7:00 pm you don’t have to go to sleep between the twins at 7:45. Unless you want to.
Suites are THE BOMB. Plus, you can stay up late and watch Doctor Who, if you are into that sort of thing.
9) Take Turns Choosing Music, or Better Yet, Headphones
My mom is a genius. When I was in high school and my brother was in middle school and I loved thrash metal and he liked gangsta rap and my dad liked talk radio and my mom liked the oldies we had some issues on road trips. My mother came up with the great compromise. Each one of us got to choose what we listened to for 30 minutes and then we would switch. Everyone was happy and my my parents know most of the words to “Master of Puppets”. This is a win/win/win.
I like to think that I am and I hope that some of my tips helped you.Conversely, my daughter likes Ke$ha, so I bought my kids $5 mp3 players and headphones. Maybe I am the genius.
Image via mommygaga.com