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5 Winter Holiday Travel Tips

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Although we seek connection and fun with loved ones this time of year, the winter holidays can often be a blur of decorate, cook, shop, wrap, repeat. The last thing you have time to worry about is your travel plans. Winter travels, whether to a ski resort, tropical island, or back home to visit family, should be the whipped cream on your eggnog…the well-deserved treat to top off the holiday hubbub. To make sure your vacation runs as smoothly as new runners on Santa’s sleigh, here are five winter holiday travel tips.

Winter Holiday Travel Tips

Book an early flight

Over the river and above the woods to grandmother’s house you go via commercial airplane. During the snowy months of winter, I recommend booking a morning flight. You never know when stormy weather may cause flight delays and you don’t want to be on the last plane out of town. This holds true when flying somewhere warm, too. Bad weather can wreak havoc on connecting flights and inbound aircraft. If you absolutely, positively must be somewhere by a particular date, book your flight for a few days before the big wedding or holiday celebration. It’s better to arrive early than be stuck back home waiting for the storm to pass.

Double up social visits and make your schedule known

Travel during the holiday season often means visiting far-flung relatives and friends. It’s a joy to spend time with loved ones, but cramming in too many social visits can stress out even the most easy-going children and parents. Doubling up visits with multiple family members or social circles can provide some much-needed down time. Spelling out which days will be spent with whom ensures quality time with people on your must-see list, sets appropriate expectations, and decreases any guilt trips from those who might feel slighted if you can’t spend every minute of your trip with them.

Stagger busy and mellow days

It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday frenzy of ticking to do’s off a seemingly endless list. Be sure to schedule some time during your trip to relax and connect. After a whirlwind day filled with shopping for gifts galore, schedule a day that focuses on fun. Take a family walk to look at holiday lights, visit a museum, or just laze about in your hotel room or cruise ship stateroom in pajamas watching holiday movies and sipping hot cocoa.

Stay healthy while away

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than illness. It can be difficult to eat healthfully while traveling, especially when temptations like gingerbread or latkes abound. Take a daily vitamin to help ensure you get the nutrients your body needs. Be sure to slather on antibacterial gel or lotion after visiting germ-ridden locales, like an amusement park or the line for Santa at the mall.

Motion sickness can also put a serious damper on your holiday. Before setting off on a winding road trip, turbulent flight or rocky cruise, I take a dose of Dramamine® Less Drowsy to help prevent the nausea and dizziness caused by movement. As a spokesperson for Dramamine, I recommend this medication for adults and children alike. My daughter also suffers from motion sickness from time to time so I am always sure to have some Dramamine® for Kids on hand wherever we travel. This chewable, grape-flavored option is formulated just for children ages 2-12. For more tips, check out or the Dramamine Facebook page.

Make new holiday traditions

Traveling during the holidays may mean breaking some old family traditions. Improvise and make new traditions instead! A turkey dinner with all of the fixings in a restaurant can be a delicious, stress-free alternative to the traditional cook-at-home Thanksgiving extravaganza. Staying in a hotel on Christmas Eve?  Place the presents under the floor lamp. Bring a bit of garland from home to wrap around the base for a festive touch. (This is what we did when my parents came to visit me in France during my college year abroad!) Worried the kids will miss the snow during your Caribbean cruise? Challenge the family to build the tallest “snowman” from sand at the beach. No chimney at Grandma’s house? Leave a special key under the mat for Santa so he can make his nighttime deliveries. Bring along the menorah, the Christmas stockings, or the Kwanzaa candles and celebrate the season on-the-go.

No matter where you’re headed this winter, we at Travel Mamas wish you a safe journey and happy holiday season!

Where will you be traveling this winter holiday travel season? Let us know in the comments below.

A Note from The Travel Mama: I am not a medical professional. The information contained within this post is based on my own experience and opinions. This post is part of my partnership with Dramamine, for which I received compensation. For medical advice, please contact your physician.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. We’re staying local this year but these are all awesome tips! Staying healthy is always the big challenge no matter where we are. 🙂

  2. Abby of says

    Great tips, Colleen! The more we can ease tension during the holidays, the better!

  3. These are great tips, Colleen! We are hunkering down for baby #2’s arrival this holiday season, but these so good to keep in mind. Love your point about doubling up–visiting family and friends can be overwhelming, so it’s nice to get a bunch of “visits” accomplished in one shot 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Kate – Congratulations on the soon-to-be addition to your family! Glad to hear you found the tips helpful!

  4. Joanna @ Motherhood and Merlot says

    We are traveling for the holidays this year:) Love these tips!

  5. Wandering Educators says

    Excellent tips, especially on staying healthy!!!

  6. Great tips!

  7. I’m a believer in getting there early and doubling up social engagements. It’s great to see everyone, but when obligations are overwhelming, it doesn’t feel like a vacation.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Allison – So true! I have been going crazy trying to come up with a schedule that will please everyone during our Thanksgiving trip to Minnesota to visit friends and family. I finally got it all settled and know that this will make our vacation so much more enjoyable for all.

  8. Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

    Great tips. Love the one about the lamp in France.

  9. Delores Lyon says

    I agree that it is really important to keep your family healthy while on vacation. In fact, I would feel better if I knew of a doctor in the area we were traveling to. That way, if something ever did happen, we would know exactly where to go!

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