It is that time of year when you travel to visit family during the holiday season. The holidays can be a stressful time, but add in long travel times with children and it can get worse. Here are a few tips to make the travel a little easier for you and them this holiday season.
1. Keep your kids sleep patterns in mind. Fly early in the morning when they may still be tired, or schedule travel time during a nap time when they could fall asleep. For most kids the movement of the car will help soothe them to sleep and for some the movement of the plane will do the same thing. Think about how your child will react though. If your child has a difficult time falling asleep, then you do not want to travel when they will be over tired and will not be able to calm down to fall asleep.
2. Bring a lot of snacks. “Hangry” kids are never pleasant and sometimes it is not convenient to stop and eat. Make sure you bring items that can be eaten easily in a seat, that will not be too messy if you are not able to assist them in eating it, and keep age appropriateness in mind. Crackers, cereal, fruit, cheese, yogurt, small sandwiches are all good options. Don’t forget the drinks also. If flying, make sure you give yourself time to stop at the store after you get through security to grab some waters and juice.
3. Keep your kids moving as much as possible. No one likes to stay sitting for long, but especially children who are little balls of energy. If you are traveling by plane, then let the kids walk around the airport before they get on the plane. If you have a little one in a stroller, be sure to give them time out of the stroller to move around and stretch. Once on the plane, let them stand up and move around in their seat area if the seatbelts sign is off. If traveling by car, be sure that when you stop for the bathroom and meals, you take time to let the kids walk (or run if possible).
4. Pack Like a Pro. Pack lots of toys and pack toys that can be used in a seat. Hand the toys out one at a time. If traveling on a plane, watch the noise level. Be sure to have plenty of diapers and wipes, changes of clothes, pacifiers, blankets, lovvee. If traveling by car, you want to make sure that items are packed conveniently that the passenger can access them easily. If flying try to pack everything for the kids in the bag you can place under the seat. For older children, let them pack their own backpack they can place under their seat. I have packed a small metal cookie sheet with magnets, small cars, books, coloring books, puzzles and of course electronics for the older kids.
5. Dress appropriately. Make sure everyone is dressed in comfortable clothes for the trip. You can always change them into fancier clothes once you have reached your destination. If traveling by car, make sure to dress them warmly enough that you can remove the heavy coats while in their car seat. Make sure to have a light jacket or sweater for a plane as well, as the temperature can fluctuate.
6. If traveling by plane I suggest taking the car seat. While children under 2 can fly free, children will do better if they have their own space. Also, they will be more comfortable, as they are used to traveling in their car seat.
7. If traveling by car, of course, make sure that the car is in top condition by checking the overall safety of the car. Perform an oil change if needed and check the tires brakes and lights. Make sure to have an emergency kit in your car. Be aware of the traffic patterns and take them into account when planning your departure time.
8. Prepare yourself. The best advice I can offer when traveling with kids is to prepare yourself. This will be the same experience as when you traveled before kids. A car trip will take longer. The plane ride will not be relaxing. But if you give yourself plenty of time and plan accordingly it can be less stressful. Also, be sure to pack napkins, wipes, paper towels, tissues..there will be messes. If traveling in the car be sure to have some bags to collect trash.
Enjoy your time with your family. You are creating memories for a lifetime.