I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you: Thanksgiving can be the craziest, most expensive time of the year to travel in the U.S. When you add a baby or young child to the mix, and possibly myriad members of your extended family in the adventurous terrain of someone else’s home, it’s all the more important to plan your strategy for a happy Thanksgiving vacation.
Here are three tips that can help make all the difference between a long weekend you’ll always lament–and one for which you’ll always give thanks.
1. Bring easy childproofing-on-the-go solutions that won’t fluster grandparents or permanently alter Aunt Hilda’s sitting room. From my favorite toddler-proof doorknob covers that keep kids from sightseeing alone to finger guards that keep cousins from slamming the doors you want open closed (on precious small fingers), these gadgets take up little space in your bag and offer big help on vacations. And for an unexpected twist on childproofing in other people’s homes: Consider using garden training wire (more here). See more child safety recommendations for travel here.
2. Have “the talk” about pills on the premises — and vitamins, ointments, medicated creams and other prescriptions that are often left in easy-to-remember places in homes without young children. If you’ve ever seen a glorified PEZ dispenser labeled Monday through Sunday with easy-lift tabs, you know what I’m talking about, but this one often catches even the most thoughtful hosts off guard. More tips to help on this topic in my post here.
3. Bring thoughtful host and hostess gifts to break the ice — and keep everyone smiling. If you’re still a little nervous about the reception of your “talk on pills” or how your Door Mouse Finger Guard might be received by any members of your extended clan, you will no doubt win them over with humorous–and practical–gifts that never go out of style for those in the presence of toddlers: I recommend ear plugs, flameless candles, and a “splat mat” that matches your gracious hosts’ dining room decor.
If you’re packing up for a holiday stay in somebody else’s home this season, be sure to revisit the “Staying safe (and sane) with friends and family” pages in Travels with Baby, where you’ll find many more tips and helpful advice for having your best stay with friends or family.
Want more help with your holiday travels? Jump to the FAQs and Popular Topics page with health tips and more, or stop by the Flying with Babies and Toddlers tips page for answers and advice for your upcoming flights, or for road warriors, be sure to stop by the Road Trips and Travel with Car Seats travel tips index–and if this site helps your family in its travels, please be sure to show your support for Travels with Baby with a quick vote in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards (thank you!).
As for us, we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving for 2012 – though that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of packing to do this week! If you want to know where we’re bound, keep in touch – I’ll try and drop a line. 😉