By Kelly Allman
'Tis the season when top destinations are decking their halls in anticipation of all things merry and bright. With school kids around the country enjoying as much as two weeks of school holidays, many are viewing the long break as an opportunity to slip in a family vacation. And as they say, "The family that travels together, stays together!" Travel represents a rare opportunity for group bonding, exploration, and relaxation. And as with most things in life, planning is a critical step in ensuring a Hassle-Free getaway.
Here are a few essential tips to plan the perfect family holiday:
1. Choose a family-friendly accommodation
When traveling with the whole family, a vacation rental home can be a great option over hotel rooms. The extra space, full kitchen, and multiple bathrooms go a long way in promoting peace and harmony among the clan. Don't forget to check the bed configurations when you're choosing accommodations. If you have three kids, and the guest room only has a queen-sized bed, you could have a problem. Also make sure you view the property photos. You may want to rethink renting a home with white décor and precious art if your little one (like mine!) thinks the world is her personal jungle-gym. Traveling with elderly grandparents? Look for properties with elevators. It's important to make sure the home you're renting fits your family's needs so you can relax and make the most of your getaway. Seaside Vacations has nearly 400 Outer Banks vacation rental properties
to choose from.
2. Map out your holiday road trip before leaving home
My husband and I tend to overestimate the ground we can realistically cover in one day. Before departure, enter your destination into your vehicle's GPS system to make sure the trip won't take longer than expected. Better yet, use a mapping program like MapQuest
to plug in the final destination and possible stopping points along the way. It's a good idea to bring along a paper map, too, just in case you have problems with your GPS system. Download the free Waze app WAZE
for traffic, construction and police updates in real time - we use it all the time and find it to be very reliable.
3. Pack a holiday travel kit for the kids
For a little extra cheer, wrap up a bag of travel toys and crafts for the kiddos to open along the way. Think interactive and inexpensive items like stickers, crayons, and puzzle books. Also, National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas
makes a great choice for road trip fun with its maps, games and activities. My daughter loves taking photos on the road with FujiFilm's Instax Mini
, a funky retro camera that creates instant printed photos. Consider investing in a pair of wireless headphones for the sibling who prefers to chill to his own tunes in the backseat.
4. Get comfy
Say sayounara to skinny jeans and opt for your softest clothes. Think stretchy leggings, cozy cardigans, and comfy cotton. (Other than the gym, the road trip is the only time I'm OK with my husband publicly donning his favorite frayed, faded, and generously-over-worn sweatpants.) Keep a light throw in the backseat because someone is always chilly.
5. Prep your vehicle
Has that red "check engine" light been illuminated a little longer than you'd like to admit? Make sure your vehicle is up-to-date on oil changes and any needed maintenance. Also, put blankets, booster cables, flares, a flashlight, hand warmers, salt and a window scraper in your car. Being stuck on the roadside is no way to kick off your holiday.
6. Stay safe on the road
AAA recommends the driver and all passengers stay buckled up with seat belts and/or car seats throughout the journey. This is true for furry family members as well. Did you know that in many states, including New Jersey, police can stop and fine anyone they determine to be incorrectly transporting a pet in a car? Fines start at $200 and go up to $1000. Crash-tested crates are the best option to keep your pup (and your wallet) unharmed.
Bring along an extra cell phone charger so you are sure to have power in the event of of a flat tire or emergency. And I know you know this, but it can't hurt to overstate that texting or alcohol plus driving absolutely never mix.
7. Bend technology rules
Radical, I know, but so worth it. If ever you were going to bend some technology rules, the family road trip is the time to do it. I love to get comfy in the backseat with my daughter and watch a movie while the hubs drives. I always let her pick the flick, and lucky for me, we share an affinity for holiday faves like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Elf.
Although I'm not what you'd consider zen by any means, this is my favorite tip, for road trips as well as every day. Meditation is a proven technique for reducing stress and anxiety, and according to the Mayo Clinic, "Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace." The beauty of meditation is that it can be done anywhere, even in the passenger seat of the car. It truly works. Check out this quick video for tips on learning Meditation in 5 Easy Steps
9. Eat clean
Sure, the drive-through is a quick and easy go-to for road trips, but that fast food high never lasts, and the inevitable bloating, discomfort and lethargy just isn't worth it. For ideas on what to bring, check out this list of Healthy Road Trip Snacks
from Eat This. Don't forget to naturally boost your immunity with superfoods and supplements like Vitamin C Powder. Because nothing screams HASSLE like a vacation cold!
10. If Possible, Travel Early
A lot of travelers do so on the actual holiday so by leaving a couple days earlier (or maybe stay for a couple days after the holiday), you can minimize congestion challenges. Seaside Vacations Check-in days vary based on the particular home, so choose a home with a check-in day that works best for your schedule.
Happy Holidays from Seaside Vacations, and we hope to see you soon!
Thursday, December 14, 2017