Holiday Travel With Kids: 10 Tips

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Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go!

The thought of traveling with children in tow makes me want to burst into cold sweats, curl up into a ball, and cry. The mere thought of taking on this challenge is intimidating and stressful. The whole experience is often like herding cats.

My kiddos are no strangers to long travel adventures across the United States. My three year old has been on about seventeen flights in his sort little lifetime… That being said, I feel like we’ve experienced it all when it comes to traveling. Melt downs. Poop explosions. Ants in the pants. Obnoxiously loud voices. Pestering travel neighbors. Constant chair kicking. Puke.

Here are ten things that I have found extremely helpful during the chaos excitement of holiday travel with kids:

1. Talk about what is expected

Kids function better when they know what is expected of them. Talk about the metal detectors they they will walk through, how the luggage will be checked, how there will be herds of people everywhere. Tell them where you are going and what they can do to help. Kids LOVE being helpers! Praise them for their help and positive behavior.

2. Put your kids in comfortable clothing

Sweat pants and leggings are your BFFs for travel with kids. Easy up and easy down for those potty emergencies. This is also a huge life saver when you are dealing with a teeny tiny airplane bathroom.

3. Pack a busy bag

This is key!! Things like new mini coloring books from the dollar store, new crayons from Target’s dollar bin, play dough, a travel aquadoodle, mini magna doodle, flash cards, stickers! (One time my son was antsy during an unexpected lay over… for an entire hour he strategically placed stickers all over my face and back. Mom win.)

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4. Snacks

Bring LOTS of snacks. When you think you have enough, pack more… you can thank me later. Remember that sugary snacks have the potential to make your child more energized. So ditch the candy canes at home and pack healthier food items like: raisins, pretzels, fruit cups or peanut butter crackers. Maybe stash a few special treats to bust out if you reallllllllly need them. 🙂

5. Wrapped Surprises

Go shopping for a few small items and wrap them up in wrapping paper. This can be things like a new book, a matchbox car, new markers, a new can of play dough… the sky is the limit. My husband and I did this on our last cross country trip and it was the BEST thing we could have done. As soon as our son started getting a tad antsy we knew it was time to break out something new to help occupy him. It.Worked.Wonders.

6. Baby Wearing vs. Stroller

Skip the stroller. They’re not only a complete hassle, but the airlines beat them up and they are hard to maneuver during the holiday rush. Invest in a carrier that allows you to carry your child on your front or back, freeing up both of your hands to carry your identification, tickets, or beverage of choice. Two of my very favorite carriers are the Ergo and the new Baby Carrier One. (You can read my personal review on the Baby Carrier One HERE.)

7. Expect the Unexpected

Seriously… lower your standards. Especially during holiday travel. Realize that not everything is going to go as planned. While unexpected layovers are a complete pain in the butt, make the most of it and roll with the punches. The more stress you show, the more stressed your kids are going to be. Stressed out kids make the travel adventure extremely unpleasant for not only you, but every one around you.

8. Extra Clothes

Pack an extra change of clothes (and WIPES) for each child in the carry on bag. All I’ve gotta say is poop happens. Sometimes nature calls on that big scary airplane. Sometimes they don’t make it to the bathroom. I won’t go any further.

9. Technology

Download some new games or maybe a special holiday movie that they haven’t seen. Make sure to bring headphones… this will keep your child and your neighbors happy. Trust me.

10. Accept Help

I have experienced some of the kindest, most generous and caring people when I’ve been traveling with my kiddos. One lady helped me get through security and folded up my stroller for me (this was before I ditched the stroller for the Ergo), one gentleman kept my son entertained in line by making silly faces, and someone else once stopped to help me clean up a spill. (Obviously exercise common sense, I wouldn’t hand my baby is a stranger while I went to the bathroom.)

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What travel advice do you have? Which tip are you going to try this holiday season?

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2 Responses to Holiday Travel With Kids: 10 Tips

  1. Gary Bickford November 12, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    Dear Jenna, These mean so very much to me since I know and often get to see you, Adam and the boys!!!!!!! What a wonderful thing to do for others. Love to all of you.

    • Jenna Wilson
      Jenna Wilson November 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Thanks Gary! 🙂 You are an encouragement and blessing to us!

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