The holidays are about family. And often, that means that the holidays are often about travel. If the idea of traveling with your young children has you shaking in your boots, well, you’re not alone. You wouldn’t be the first parent to consider simply not traveling in order to avoid the hassles that accompany traveling with young children. But let’s keep it real. Your kids are only this age once, and you’ll likely regret not sharing this age with your family. So, buck up. Here’s how to make the travel manageable this holiday season.
In today’s world, many people live far distances from their loved ones. It often means that holiday travel will involve a plane ride. This can be incredibly stressful, as flying with young children is already difficult, never mind the increased airfare that comes with the holidays. Here are our tips for making the most of it.
- Consult a travel agent.
Holiday airfare is always going to be spendy. While a travel agent can’t get you secret flight prices, they can advise you on which days are the best for airfare, and may also find alternate routes that are less expensive. If nothing else, they’ll be able to advise you when to book, and when to wait. If you’ve never used a travel agent before, we’re happy to recommend ours!
- Take the redeye.
Red-eye flights are the ones that almost no one wants. They depart between 10pm-12am and have you flying when you should be sleeping. Because that’s a hard sell, these flights are often more affordable than prime time flights. But that’s not the only reason to take them. Opting for a redeye also means that your children are much more likely to sleep during their flight. This means that you won’t need to manage ear discomfort, entertainment, or forcing a young child to sit in a confined seat for several hours. While a red-eye flight may be more difficult for your sleep schedule, chances are, it will turn out to be a great option for young children.
- Plan ahead.
If your child is under two, most major domestic airlines will let bubs fly for free, so long as he or she sits in your lap. If you’re OK with sharing your seat, plan ahead and look into your airline’s policy. Just be sure to bring a birth certificate with you to the airport to verify age.
- Bring the Gear
Additionally, most airlines allow you to check baby gear for free. Included items often include a car seat, a stroller, and your pack and play.
- Bring snacks.
In addition to finger food snacks, be sure to pack empty bottles and sippy cups. Then, once you’re through security, plan on filling them with water or juice. Keeping the kids eating and drinking regularly will help their ears adjust to the altitude and minimize discomfort. If your child is old enough, chewing gum also helps with this.
- Small space entertainment.
Pack activities that can keep your child engaged in a small space. Coloring books, crayons, books, and electronic devices with headphones (with pre-downloaded movies) are all great options.
- Don’t forget to get to the airport early. Kids make everything take longer, and this is one place that you don’t want to fall behind schedule. Allow plenty of time for security, and always ask if there is a family security screening line.
If your destination merits a road trip, here’s how to survive it.
- Be safe.
And by that, we mean don’t rush. Holiday traffic is always rough, and it can be frustrating to watch hours tick by as you’re stuck in a traffic jam. Get the better of the situation by allowing plenty of time for your trip, and accepting that there is no firm arrival time at your destination. It’s better to drive slow and cautious and have everyone arrive alive.
- Think outside of the box.
If you’re able, plan to drive during non-peak hours. If you can arrange to drive overnight, often taking driving shifts while your partner sleeps, you can likely make better time and avoid much of the traffic congestion. Additionally, driving overnight means that the kids will sleep for most of the trip, which means you won’t have to entertain them or plan for their restlessness.
- Surprises are essential.
If you can’t travel during off times, plan on surprising the kids during the trip. We love the idea of having brown paper bags filled with inexpensive surprises. Think of coloring books, crayons, dollar toys, and games. Offering a new surprise bag every hour or so keeps things exciting, fresh, and always changing. This will help pass the time for the kids and keep calls of, “I’m bored!” at bay.
- Eat a lot.
Finally, plan on eating. A lot. Kids love to snack, and offering frequent snacks will keep their mouths and hands busy while also occupying their minds. We love the idea of packing a lot of small Tupperware containers with clean finger foods to offer at regular intervals. Cheerios, raisins, grapes, and crackers make great choices. Be sure to throw in a few “junk” or treat foods as well to please the masses.
So, where are you going for the holidays? We’d love to know! Share your adventure (and your travel trips and tips) with us on social media!