The holiday travel season is the busiest and most stressful travel season of all. If you’re looking to plan a last minute trip with those you love most, but aren’t sure where to start or how you can make the holidays run as smooth as possible, you’re in luck! Renowned journalist, family travel expert and blogger, Rene Syler was kind enough to join me for an interview this week to discuss how families can plan an amazing holiday vacation, how to ease kids worries and make the holidays feel like home and much more.
Candace Rose: With the busiest travel season upon us, how can families plan the perfect holiday vacation?
Rene Syler: “Well, first of all there is no such thing as perfect! The big secret is to let go of perfection completely and understand that it is going to be what it is going to be and kind of take things as they go.
HomeAway did a global survey and found out that a large portion of us (81% of us) do say we’re going to spend time with family and friends over the Christmas break but also a large portion of us say that and we anticipate some friction or arguing during that time. The trick is how do you balance those two things? How do you balance this – ‘do I really want to be with these people?’ With ‘oh my gosh, I have to be away from these people!’ It’s tricky, but it can be done.
One particular option would be to have your parents or someone else who you’re hosting to rent a vacation home around the corner from where you are or in town or something like that. That way everybody can be together when you want to be together, but you can also have your space when you desperately need it.
Another option would be for everybody to go to a vacation destination and rent a home that is large enough to accommodate everybody. You could do a multi-generational type Christmas and then as long you have enough bedrooms and bathrooms, that’s the kind of stuff that those small or seemingly small really cuts down on the stress.”
Candace Rose: How can travelers really make their holiday vacation feel like home?
Rene Syler: “I love renting a place that has a kitchen because one of the ways that you can make it feel like your own home is to continue to have the meals that you have during the holidays. If you’re having a ham or a turkey for Christmas dinner, you can prepare it in your own kitchen there.
I like the idea of coming to a space and kind of making it your own for however long it is you’re going to be there. It’s really important for kids who are creatures of habit. They have their favorite toys, their favorite blankets.
I love the idea that when you’re in a vacation home versus say a hotel, not everybody has to go to bed at the same time. If you are traveling with kids – and parents of small children will know what I mean – if you’re in a hotel room and that’s lights out, that means everybody is going to bed at eight o’clock. It doesn’t have to be that way if you rent a vacation home.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the most common stressors that kids face when traveling during the holidays?
Rene Syler: “This is part of the survey that they uncovered that I thought kind of makes you go ‘aww’ because the kids also do feel the stress of the holidays. A lot of kids were worried about traveling away from their home during the holiday season because they were worried Santa wouldn’t be able to find them. There is a website called RerouteSanta.com, the kid just put in their names and where they’re going to be and then they send that email to Santa and they have some assurance that Santa will find them and give their gifts to them on Christmas morning.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Rene Syler: “Check out the website HomeAway.com for more information. There are facts and all of your questions can be handled there.
I think the larger point is that we need to remember what this is about. You want to be with friends and family. You love these people, you want to spend time with them and just take it easy. Try a little tenderness and understand that it’s not going to be perfect, but it just has to be good enough.”