It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but when it comes to travel It’s also the most chaotic time of the year. This year, winter holiday travelers all over the world will face flight delays, cancellations, missed connections and baggage loss. Traveling as a family can be a challenge even in the off-season, so to help you navigate, we’ve put together some family travel tips and holiday vacation ideas perfect for everyone on your list.
Family Friendly Travel Tips for the Holidays
- Give yourself more time. As a general rule, when you’re traveling with a group you should always pad your itinerary with down time. This is especially true if small children are in your group. What’s worse than dealing with airport chaos during the holidays? Dealing with a two-year-old having a complete meltdown over a binki you left at home in the middle of the airport when you are already running late for your flight. So take time to pack and prepare. Arrive early. When it comes to traveling, you’ll want to build in time for delays and setbacks.
- Look for holiday deals & family travel packages. The holidays are a time for families. Everyone knows this, including travel providers. So starting in October, start looking for those family holiday vacation deals and bundles. Remember, if you’re seeing the deal, so are hundreds of thousands of other people. Seize the deal, seize the holiday.
- Book an early, direct flight (and book it early). Statistics show that early morning flights have the best chance of leaving and arriving on time. This means less chance of having to sit for hours in the airport with impatient kids.
- Accept that not everything will go right. You know those people who travel the world over without ever experiencing a flight disruption or baggage loss? Yeah, neither do we. While every parent wants to give their children a magical holiday experience, the spell can sometimes break. So, take a deep breath, find your zen and let go of perfection. And good news, careful planning and preparation can help protect you from the impact of unexpected snags and bumps. Your holiday trip may not be a dream but trip insurance can help prevent it from becoming a real nightmare.
- Make sure your kids know the holiday gameplan. Whether they admit it or not, children want to be told what to expect. So before you leave, sit down with your kids and walk them through the itinerary. This will help them feel more in control and excited about the trip. Better yet, if your kids are old enough, involve them in the itinerary building. They may come up with some cool sights and experiences you never would have imagined.
- Create some holiday magic. If you’re celebrating Christmas with small children, you’ll want to keep the magic of the season alive, no matter where you go. This is a lot easier to do in your own home, but traveling can actually help you create even more holiday magic. It all comes down to packing and preparing ahead of time. If you’re staying at a hotel, for example, dedicate at least one piece of luggage to holiday magic. Pack stockings, decorations, your Elf on a Shelf and, if your kids have one, a special plate and mug just for Santa. Check to see if your destination has any special festivities in the works. Your hotel may even help you line up a few holiday surprises.
Gift Packing Tips for Family Travel
There’s so much to consider when it comes to traveling with holiday gifts, we thought it deserved its own list:
- Avoid flying with gifts if possible. When you fly there’s just a greater chance that your gifts will be lossed, delayed, or damaged.
- If flying with gifts is a must, don’t wrap them. The TSA guidelines are strict and they may rip open all your beautiful bows and painstaking creases.
- Make sure all gifts follow TSA regulations. If there are any liquids involved in the gifts, like for example a snowglobe, the TSA may need to confiscate it.
- If traveling internationally, make sure the gifts can legally enter the country. Some countries have strict rules about what can and cannot be brought inside their borders. Usually, this pertains to foodstuffs, but could apply to other things. Read your country’s entry restrictions carefully before you go.
- Pack and pad them carefully. If your gifts are fragile, wrap them in bubble wrap and surround them with your clothes. Though you might be asked if anything in your checked luggage is fragile, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to protect it.
- Bring the receipts. If you’re visiting family and bringing gifts, make sure you bring gift receipts along in case your nephew already has that LEGO set or your granddaughter is just a bit too big for that dinosaur dress.
- Have a strategy for hiding gifts from your kids. This goes back to creating some holiday magic. For kids who believe in Santa, nothing breaks the spell and spirit of the holidays like finding a trove of Christmas presents in the back of their parents’ closets, or in one of their suitcases.
Fun Family Vacation Ideas for the Holidays
New York, New York. There’s tree lighting in Rockefeller Center, ice skating in Bryant Park, and Holiday Markets in Union Square. Want a blast from the holidays past? Hop on The Nostalgia Train. Every year starting after Thanksgiving, the city’s straphangers can ride in holiday-decked subway cars from the 1940s.
Bavaria, Germany. Here you’ll find world-famous holiday markets, towns so quaint and wintery they look like they’re made of gingerbread, and a pervasive festive spirit.
North Pole, Alaska. In lieu of traveling to the actual North Pole, you can always celebrate the holidays in Alaska’s North Pole. This winter wonderland has everything you’d expect from a place called North Pole.
St. Lucia, British Commonwealth. Want to rescue your family from sub-zero temperatures and knee-deep snow? St. Lucia might be just the ticket. Here you can find everything from light festivals, holiday feasts, and take part in other local traditions. And the best part is, you can do it all in a tropical paradise.
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Learn more about American history, all the while taking in the holiday decorations and light displays.
Festive Things To Do with the Family
Disneyfy your holidays. What could be better than celebrating the holidays with your family in the happiest place on earth? Prepare to be dazzled by light displays, and enchanted by the holiday parades. If theme parks aren’t your thing, there’s a holiday-themed Disney cruise waiting for you. Parents may think they’re doing Disney for their kids, but their inner children know better.
Visit a Christmas tree farm. Sure, you can always get your tree from the lot, but why not make an adventure out of it. Take the kids on a road trip to an actual Christmas tree farm. You can enjoy the festive spirit with the other tree hunters, find the tree perfect for your family and take it home. Who knows, it could be the start of a new holiday tradition
Take part in your destination country’s holiday traditions. Every country puts their own unique spin on the holidays. If you’re traveling internationally, read up on your destination country’s special traditions. If you’re in the Philippines for the holidays, you might want to check out the enchanting spectacle of Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival); In Iceland? Join in on Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood), a Christmas Eve tradition where families exchange and unwap new books, cozy up and read into the night.
Attend a Dickens festival. Don’t be a Scrooge. Take your kids to one of the many Dickens festivals across the country or around the world. Watch their wonderment as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol takes place all around them.
Walk in a winter wonderland. From guided snowshoe-hikes in one of the country’s national parks, to frozen waterfalls in Quebec, there are many reasons to get out in the snow. So if you want to build a snowman in Croatia or have a family snowball fight in London’s Hyde Park or just enjoy winter wonderland in your own backyard, the holidays are the perfect time.
Do you Need Immediate Family Trip Insurance?
Whether they’re traveling domestically or internationally, American travelers have a secret weapon to make their holiday trips safer: trip insurance. If you’re traveling a distance greater than 90 miles, this coverage protects your trip investment. Lose your luggage filled with all the kids’ presents? If you insured them with trip insurance, you may be able to recoup that financial loss. Did a delayed flight cause you to miss your connecting flight? Trip insurance can cover related expenses like airport-to-hotel transportation, meals, and in some cases overnight hotel stays.
You can include everyone in your immediate family on the same policy as long as you and your partner are legally married and your children are under 18. If you’re traveling with extended family, they will most likely need to be on their own policy unless they’re minors and you have legal guardianship over them. However, if someone in your party will be returning home earlier or vacationing longer than the rest of you, they’ll need a seperate policy.
Securing Trip Insurance for your Immediate Family is Easy
VisitorsCoverage offers many trip insurance options for everyone in your immediate family. If you’re ready to buy trip insurance or just have some questions, our Customer Success Team of licensed trip insurance experts are standing by to make sure your winter holiday travels stay merry.