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Organizing a family trip this winter doesn't have to be a source of anxiety. With some advanced preparation and remembering our key do's and dont's, you can assure good will and plenty of holiday cheer.

DO Opt for More Space

When you’re traveling as a family at the busiest time of the year, more room to spread out means a more relaxed group. If you’re flying, consider upgrading to a seat with extra space (or scoring that exit row, if your kids are old enough to sit there). With airlines prone to separate families inflight, it’s worth selecting seats early or paying extra to assure you sit together. And when it comes to where you stay, look for new ways to upgrade from a standard hotel room. Properties like Encore Resort at Reunion in Orlando take things to the next level with 3- to 13-bedroom homes, each with their own private pool and plenty of room to stretch out and breathe.

DO Give Yourself the Luxury of Time

The busy holiday season is not the time to save money on that flight with a dangerously tight connection or book back-to-back activities after a long journey. Be prepared for things to be backed up in the airport and on the ground and give yourself as much extra time as possible to arrive where you’re going. Whenever possible, avoid peak holiday travel days, even if it means taking an extra day of vacation. You’ll feel much more relaxed, as a result.

The Water Park at Encore Resort. Photo by My Nguyen

DO Let the Kids Play a Role in Planning

When kids feel like they have some control over the family vacation, they’re more likely to go with the flow and work as a team. Before your trip, have kids who are old enough do some research to find fun activities at your destination and peruse restaurant reviews online. When you give them some ownership in the family vacation, everyone is sure to have a better time. For younger kids, reading a book about the place where you’re headed or setting up a scavenger hunt once you arrive is a good way to make them feel included, too.

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DON’T Overpack

Everyone knows the golden rule of air travel with holiday presents by now. Namely: wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap them so you don’t have to mess up that pretty gift wrap in the security line. And taking all gifts out of their boxes and excess packaging is one way to lighten your load along the way. Especially when you are headed on a road trip, it can be easy to bring everything but the kitchen sink. But be careful not to overpack when it comes to kiddie accessories—you need far less than you’d think. Properties like Encore Resort ensure you have access to things like cribs and pack and plays, high chairs, and other kid gear once you’ve checked in. Bring the bare minimum and enjoy traveling light.

DON’T Forget the Small Stuff

There are some small things worth bringing along. For kids, surprise toys and plenty of snacks can make all the difference when it comes to putting the joy in everyone’s journey. For babies and toddlers, bring removable stickers that they can arrange on an airplane’s or car’s windows to keep them busy for hours. A game of “I Spy” in the airport is a good time-killer, too. Surprise snacks can be doled out over the duration of your travels, too. Pieces of fruit strung on a thread are a good distraction for toddlers, who delight in pulling them off, one by one. As for older kids, load up their devices with guidebooks and documentaries about your destination to get them excited about where you’re headed. And don’t forget the charging cables to keep everyone powered up en route.

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Photo by Kari Jensen 

DON’T Sweat the Small Stuff, Either

Part of making holiday travel with the family as stress-free as possible is being prepared for things to not go to plan—and then rolling with the punches. The holiday seasons means lines and longer waits absolutely everywhere, from attractions and grocery stores to airport security. When it comes to how you use your precious vacation time, it’s wise to be prepared with a plan B. Theme park entry lines longer than you anticipated? Turn to the concierges at Encore Resort if you are staying there. They’ll help you navigate through them as quickly as possible. No reservations available at that restaurant you’ve been dying to visit? Don’t let it ruin your night. Ordering in or making a meal together at your vacation rental can be more enjoyable in any case. Keep a flexible attitude, and you’re bound to have more fun. 

If your family is headed to Orlando for the holidays, learn about all that Encore Resort offers.