A Stress-free Family Vacation

As October draws to a close and the beginning of the Holiday Season looms on the horizon the top priority on everyone’s mind is ‘travel’. This time of year is known as the holiday rush and aside from all the upcoming holiday sales, traveling to see family, friends and loved ones is a must on most people’s agendas. Aside from the expenses of traveling out of town many people find the preparation of out of town travel a bit stressful and more of a hassle than an actual time to relax. Hopefully this guide will help you, the reader, find a few ways to take the stress out of your vacation.

Planning Ahead

Most people know that when the Holiday Season rolls around they are going to go out of town to see someone. Why wait until the last minute to try and make arrangements for the airline tickets, the rental car, your wardrobe selection, etc? Planning early can not only save you money, it can also save you from having to scramble to find everything you need at the last minute when everyone else is trying to do the same thing. It will also eliminate surprises like the airline not having enough seats to accommodate your whole family, the rental car company not having the car size you need or you getting to your destination and finding out that you packed the wrong type of wardrobe for the weather or worse, you forgot important pieces of your wardrobe, like dress shoes.

Car Rental or Airline, Hotel or Relatives?

If you’re deciding whether or not to fly or drive to your destination think about how long the trip will be for both modes of transportation and the cost. How much can you afford to spend and what is your budget? Places like Enterprise offer discounts to frequent renters and even send you deals via email for busy seasons like the holidays and sometimes offer free upgrades to regular customers. Places like Cheaptickets and Priceline advertise all the time that they can get you the best deal on travel expenses and even offer huge discounts when you bundle your traveling needs together with them (i.e. hotel, car, airfare etc..)

It also goes without saying that with most airlines and hotel reservations, if you book early, you can save tons of money.

Packing

If you have an average size family like most of us do, a Mom, a Dad, 2.3 children and a pet, then packing for everyone can be CRAZY. All those bags add up to allot of extra expenses especially when flying. While packing a separate suitcase for everyone would be possible, sometimes it is not always ideal. How long are you going to be gone? What’s the weather like where you and your family are traveling? These are things to consider. If you are flying, what are the airline regulations for toiletries? These are things you should know before you start packing.

I learned a few good tricks after I had my second child that work like a charm when packing. For instance, when you pack a suitcase you save tons of space by rolling your clothes into long tubes rather than folding them (it also prevents wrinkles). If you lay your socks on the bottom of the suitcase, rather than rolling them into balls you will save space. If you have two or more smaller children, try packing their clothes together in one suitcase or a small bag rather than in two separate bags. Take Space Bags with you to pack your dirty laundry in so they don’t mix with your clean clothes or to keep you unmentionables separate and sealed when going though airport security. All of these little tricks can save you a few unnecessary luggage hassles and a few extra dollars in your wallet.

Toiletries

Most airlines have very strict regulations on your toiletries nowadays and the things you pack may be a waste of money if the airport staff snatch them up and dispose of them before you even board your flight. Decide what you absolutely need to take with you, like specific hair care products or medication, and pack them in a separate, sealed bag in your suitcase. Other things like tooth paste, mouth wash, shampoo and deodorant, in most cases, are provided to you by the hotel or if you’re staying with relatives can be purchased in your destination city in travel sizes so you don’t waste any money.

While most ladies would love to take their entire bathroom and every single cosmetic product we own with us when we travel, again it isn’t necessary and it will only clutter your suitcase/carry on and rack up more charges on your overall bill. Plan ahead.

What looks will you need to accomplish while on vacation? Can you take a multicolor palette with you to complete all these looks? Ask yourself again, will the airline allow you to take your liquid foundation on the plane? Mineral make-up sounds pricey but when it comes to airline restrictions and packing light sometimes you can get an entire collection of looks out a few products, so consider that. Plus mineral make-up is already in powder form so you won’t have to worry about it shattering to a billion pieces like most pressed shadows and powders during travel. And the drugstore dupes are not only a money saver, a lot of them are just as good as their expensive counterparts.

Your Pet

If you are traveling with a pet, please be aware that most airlines charge a fee for stowing away your best friend and their accommodations are nowhere near as nice as yours will be, even if you are flying coach. Are you reserving a room in a pet friendly hotel? What is the cost of that extra fee? Traveling with Fido or Mittens seems like a must for most pet lovers but in most cases it’s probably better to drive with a pet rather than fly with one. The airlines take little to no responsibility if something should happen to your adopted child, (i.e. it gets hurt, lost or worse, dies). If you choose to fly with your pet, read the fine print and reread it again and make sure prior to traveling the friendly skies that you are aware of the pros and cons and decide whether or not you are willing to take those risks with your beloved animal. Those extra fees do not cover everything, so are they worth it?

Flying with a pet often requires booking some time in advance. Don’t leave it to the last minute to make the arrangements.

Kids

If you are planning a road trip with the kids, like I do several times a year, be prepared for an adventure. While it seems ideal to just hit up every fast food place on your way to your destination is it really ideal for your health, your sanity when your children are hyper from all the sugar rushes or your wallet? Plan ahead and pack a cooler or lunch bag full of your kids’ favorite goodies and healthy snacks. Things like carrots or veggies will keep them quiet and keep their thirst quenched so you won’t have to constantly give them something to drink (like salty snacks will do), resulting in numerous ‘potty breaks’ and a constant plucking of your nerves. Take video games, portable DVD players, books, mp3 players, your child’s favorite dolls in the car to keep them entertained. Play car games with the older ones and enjoy the trip, talk to your kids, get to know them again and have fun.

Happy Traveling

All in all, your family vacation should be a time of fun, togetherness and love. It should not be stressful. You are, after all, on vacation. Implement some of these tips and tricks on your next family outing and enjoy your whole vacation from beginning to end.


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