Traveling with the Comforts of Home

Every year, Jon and I try to minimize holiday stress, and one way we do this is alternating holiday travel with our families (so, one year we'll see my family for Thanksgiving and travel to see Jon's family for Christmas, and the following year do the opposite). But even minimalist travel can take its toll, so when HomeAway approached me about sharing my thoughts about group travel, I immediately thought about how important it's been to my family to embrace the comforts of home while we're on the road. Here are my favorite ways to travel with the comforts of home (while not bringing the whole house!):

1. Embrace transitional items

For many kids, a favorite blanket or stuffed animal brings immense comfort. And remember that just bringing one or two things is fine! Laurel used to want to travel with an entire tote of stuffed animals but we've told her just to bring along one special friend. She always brings Honey Bunny (beloved to her because it was my very first stuffed animal). Violet has a favorite blanket that she always wants for bottle time and sleeping; it's proven essential for making her feel at home whenever we're traveling.

2. Pack cozy and comfy favorites for yourself

I know it sounds a little crazy, but sometimes it's easy to forget about comfort when you travel, especially around the holidays where you might be more focused on packing your kids stuff and gifts and nice outfits for events. On more than one occasion I have packed a suitcase full of pretty outfits and toiletries, only to arrive at my destination and realize that I forgot socks and down time clothes. So whether it's a favorite hoodie, wrap, or pair of slippers, bring some cozy favorites that you know you can slip into and feel immediately comfortable and at home.

3. Bring something from home that's especially suited for your destination

One of the beauties of travel is that it gives you the time and space to do things you might not do at home. Planning on spending a lot of time indoors by the fire? Bring some board games that get little play at home. Heading to a warm weather destination? Pack your snorkeling gear. When we went on our cruise this summer, Jon loved bringing his binoculars -- a piece of gear he doesn't get to use much at home but was perfect for use at sea.

4. Be prepared

Travel feels more comfortable when you have the unique things that make you feel prepared. For Jon, this is stuff like a flashlight, pocket knife, and small first aid kit. I always feel prepared when I've got my phone, granola bars or other snacks for the whole family, a water bottle, diapers and wipes for Vi, a small notebook, and -- admittedly -- my favorite lip gloss.

5. Prepare a favorite meal at your destination

I've always found that one of the challenges of travel can be meals...eating out constantly can get tiring or you miss your typical foods. Jon and I like to offer preparing a meal or two when we stay with family, not only to alleviate the hosting burden but also so we can enjoy something familiar during our journeys. One note: bring specialty items if you like to cook with anything remotely unusual and are traveling somewhere with limited grocery offerings.

Are there other things you do to experience the comforts of home while on the road? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Disclosure: This post was inspired by both my personal anticipation of holiday travel and a well timed sponsored opportunity by (From the sponsor: This post is sponsored by HomeAway. HomeAway offers the world's largest selection of vacation home rentals that provide travelers with memorable vacation experiences and benefits, including more room to relax and added privacy, for less than the cost of traditional hotel accommodations. Make memories where you stay, not just where you go. -- let's stay together.)