Whether if you’re planning a vacation with your kids or visiting family, tis the season for traveling. To guarantee that your travels are less hectic and more enjoyable, here are 9 survival tips every mom should be aware of.
1. Plan ahead.
If you want your vacation to be a little less stressful, don’t wait until the last minute to plan your trip.
Start by doing a little research in advance. If you want to take your family on vacation, figure out where you’re going, where to stay, and how you’ll get there. You may even want to get the kids involved. Ask where they want to go and have them do some research on their own — if they’re old enough. Your kids may actually come up with some fun activities to do so that you’re not doing all of the planning.
If you have to fly, make sure you book your tickets as early as possible so that the entire family can sit together. You should also know how long it will take to get to the airport so that you’ll have plenty of time to get through security. If you’re leaving your car at the airport, consider reserving a parking spot or lining-up a ride.
Another tip, if you have little ones, is making sure that they’ve had all of their shots and vaccinations. You don’t want to deal with side effects, like fever or upset stomachs, while traveling.
As for work, plan for a work-free vacation. This can be a challenge, but before you leave, only focus on your priorities and save everything else for when you return. You may also want to turn-off work related notifications, like your email, while away. If you’ll be away for an extended period of time, then delegate certain tasks to a colleague.
2. Pack light and smart.
If you’ve ever traveled with babies or toddlers, then you know that you already have your hands full. The last thing you need is to also deal with bulging carry-ons and luggage. So, make sure that you pack practically.
When packing make sure that you have the essentials, such as formula, diapers, medicine, and extra outfits. If you don’t have one already, invest in a traveling stroller. You can take the stroller to the gate and it will then be stored underneath — it’s also waiting for you when you get off the plane. These strollers also come with car seats so that you don’t have to pack as much gear. Another perk is that it can be used to store carry-ons.
Most importantly, don’t overdo it. Wherever you’re going you’ll be able to buy whatever it is that you need. And, you can always do laundry at your family’s home or in your vacation rental. If you’re staying at a hotel, most offer laundry service.
3. Consider your children’s sleep schedules.
My daughter takes a nap in the afternoon. For us it’s much easier to plan our commute around her sleep schedule. We pack-up the car and hit road before she’s asleep. As we’re driving to see my family she’s taking her nap. Now we don’t have to worry about any tantrums or her getting fussy because she’s ready to go down.
This may not be possible when flying. But, at least see if there are any flights that syncs with your children’s sleep schedule. Even if you have to pay a little more, it’s so much easier to have a napping child on your flight then having to deal with an exhausted child.
4. Use technology to your advantage.
Before leaving, make sure that your phone or tablet is fully charged and loaded with apps that will keep your kids entertained. It could be a game, which can entertain my son for hours, or something as simple as BabyFaces if you have smaller children. My daughter absolutely loves Mickey Mouse cartoons, so I always make sure that they’re on stand-by. Also, don’t forget the headphones if you’re on a plane or train!
Speaking of apps, you may also want to download:
- Waze. This app provides real-time traffic information and the best driving routes.
- USA Rest Stops. This app will find the nearest rest stops, welcome centers, or service plazas on both state and US highways.
- Gate Guru. For those of you flying, this app provides a map of the airport, flight delays, a list of amenities, weather forecasts, and the ability to rent a car with Avis.
- MyTSA App. This apps has information on what you can and cannot bring through security checkpoints, weather forecasts, and how long you can expect to wait in the security line. The app also allows you to call for assistance.
- Piiniic. This is an app that every busy mom should be using on a daily basis since it’s a family assistant that allows you to create a family calendar, to-do-lists, and store medical information. There’s also a family locator if anyone in your group gets separated. This app can also make planning and managing your vacation much easier.
5. Have an emergency bag of tricks.
Screens can be a life-saver. But, you should also have some other options for your children. After all, what if your kids drain your tablets battery or you don’t have access to WiFi?
Pack some books, small travel-sized games, felt toys, and coloring books. Again, you don’t need to go overboard. But, you should definitely have some low-tech options to keep your kids occupied while traveling.
6. Pack plenty of snacks.
Every mother knows that you always need to have snacks with you — kids get miserable when they’re hungry.
While packing, don’t forget to have plenty of snacks like granola bars, Cheerios, and fruit and veggies. Try to stick with items that aren’t too messy, have to be kept cool, and can be easily stored in your carry-on or overnight bag.
7. Don’t rush.
It’s impossible to rush through airport security or arrive on-time for a holiday feast when stuck in traffic. Give yourself more than enough time to travel so that you’re not rushing to reach your destination. I would rather arrive early at the airport or my family’s home then stressing out about being late.
8. Try to stick to a routine.
Both you and your kids need structure. While you can be a little flexible during the holidays and vacations, try to stick to your normal schedule as possible. This means keeping the same times you would normally sleep, nap, and eat. Following your morning routine also makes sure that you’re not neglecting your health and maintaining enough energy to make it through the day.
It also makes the transition coming back from vacation smoother since you don’t have to readjust back to your normal routine.
9. Manage your own stress.
Finally, traveling can be extremely stressful. When you feel your stress levels beginning to rise, take a deep breath and then exhale that tension out. Positive affirmations can also make a huge difference. If you have the time meditate, exercise, or go for a quick walk on your own.
If you’re visiting family, and they’re getting under your skin, write down what you’re grateful for to put things in perspective.