Mother’s Day travel: Avoid any late-night restaurant reservations if you can. Here’s what to do

Pick any time when a family of six (with four kids under five) will be back home by 8:30 p.m. and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an empty room, let alone a reservation at a cool restaurant. But when Mother’s Day rolls around — and yes, the ninth month of the year does coincide with Mother’s Day — things change.

“A special occasion in the family leads to a lot of traveling,” says Izabella Schneider, a writer at Nordstrom’s digital magazine The Fashion Spot. “I just spoke to a parent who’s getting pregnant again, and her travel plans for the spring start way in advance. But then the kids are sick, and their schedules are impossible to adapt, and she’s desperately looking for a place she can leave them. So here’s my suggestion: Allow four hours of travel time on a long trip — even an indirect route.”

So what happens when Mom is driving the 18 hours from your home city to grandma’s house? How do you navigate your way back? More importantly, how do you get things where they need to go?

First things first: If you need a room somewhere, don’t fill the bathroom sink at a hotel; instead, invite a babysitter for one day. (I went this route last year and ended up leaving my babysitter in charge when my daughter had to stay up for cartoons. But if you’re single, you probably already have the babysitter; you could ask for someone to cover you on either the weekend or overnight.)

Signs of trouble

If you’re going to be in a long-haul flight (and will need to sit in a special tray or row), you can always make an emergency landing by digging in the grab bag. Just go to the bathroom, take off your shoes, hand it to the flight attendant, stick it in the toilet and repeat. They’ll probably just put it in the shower.

Just as a reminder, there are several categories of potential trouble:

The cushion burns

Maybe you have to run to the bathroom a couple of times for various reasons. This is why you’re in charge: The pediatrician said this is the single greatest cause of accidents in airplanes. When the burn is so bad that the child can’t lie down, that’s when you just have to get out of the plane.

The food is off

If you need to change clothes so many times, guess what? You’re the parent! Even if you’re not stuffing clean clothes in between the cracks of the overhead bins, you still need to change diapers.

Please forgive the noise, the smoke and the spewing liquid

Have the smell of ammonia, laundry detergent or even a bodily fluid. No exceptions.

When in doubt, call above

If you have a particular question or concern about a restaurant you just booked, there’s always the option of calling before you arrive. The hotel manager and restaurant owners are trained to look out for each other. So the operator who answers the phone at the hotel will know whether the restaurant can accommodate your needs and find out what else is open. And they will never explain or lie to you.

Call this number

During the holidays and well into the following year, hotels and restaurants across the country know exactly who you are, so they will try to accommodate you. The phones are definitely busy with people looking for specific information about rooms or special offers. You will get through to the right people, and you will be well-informed. The situations may differ slightly from city to city, but don’t assume you have to call the hotel directly. Look for the number below the hotel logo on the menu.

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