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  • Writer's pictureTricia Thornton

Traveling with Children During the Holidays

Millions of Americans hit the roads and skies for holiday travel. This can be a stressful time on parents and children. The delays, safety concerns, health concerns, and just mere frustrations can bring on anxiety to all. However, with careful planning before you go, it could be a lot more enjoyable. One rule of thumb is to try to keep your cool, easier said than done! Being with family and friends during the holidays can be such an exciting time!

Prepare Ahead

Make lists! Have your children get involved with this step. Suggest for one child to make a list of all they will need to bring in their carry-on for the ride/flight. Of course, you will have to edit this list, but it will be a start. Another child could make a list of activities to do while at grandma's or at their cousin's, etc. Parents make a grand list of what to bring. Then, when your children have packed it, have them come check off the list. This can be done simply on a piece of paper, electronically or on a chalk/white board posted in the house.

Check all the Travel Regulations

Particularly if you are flying, be sure to know the airport ahead of time. So, the day you travel, you know where you are going. Print boarding passes. Pulling them up on your phone can be stressful when you are in the security line, you screen goes blank, your child clicked you out of the page, etc. It is easier to hand the boarding passes to the agent. If they are over 16, be sure they have their licenses. Check the airline web sites. Most have great tips for traveling with children.

Give the Friends/Family Diet Restrictions Ahead

Nothing worse than showing up at your location and all they have is peanut snacks for example when you have a child (or yourself) with an allergy. Even suggest to bring your own snacks if their are some particular restrictions. If traveling by air, offer to go to the the store when you arrive or to send a detailed grocery list before arriving. Don't forget detergents if you have sensitive skin allergies. Be sure to pack your liquids in your suitcase to be checked, not in your carry-on.

Bring Activities to Do in the Car and on the Plane

If flying, do this within reason. There is nothing worse than the flight attendants and other passengers to be irritated by loud electronics and/or rattling toys. Be sure your children that can use earbuds have ones that are comfortable to wear for a while. Surprise your children with a fun, new toy that will get once they are buckled in and you are on your way. Sticker books are a great option. Be careful of the travel games that have a lot of little pieces. Once your child drops it while you are driving, ugh! Download movies ahead of time, wifi can be very spotty on the planes and while driving in various areas.

Drink Lots of Water

Even if this means you have to stop more than one time, or you have you have to get up from your seat a couple of times on a flight, you will be happy for days afterward. Dehydration can set in quickly and lead to mood swings, upset stomachs, skin irritations, and headaches. If you have someone in the car that gets irritated about stopping, discuss this issue prior to leaving on the trip. Nothing worse than arguing in close quarters in front of your children.

Consider Returning Home Early

I don't mean cut your vacation short, but to plan ahead. I have found it is best if children (and parents) have a day or two at home to recoup before reentry occurs into their regular schedule. Children need to get home and unpack, enjoy down time at home, and get back into their regular sleep patterns. This will make for a much smoother start of school. While you are home, try to not pack your days right before they return to school. Have a movie day or a craft day or take a hike to just have time together.

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