As my family is getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve been working overtime to make sure that we are prepared for the dreaded holiday travel. I’m a big fan of vacations, but not so big of a fan of getting there. Driving in a car or riding on a plane, train or bus with two kidlets under the age of six and several bags of luggage to me is like some un-named type of torture, where only the strongest or most laid-back moms survive.
Through trial and lots of error, I’ve developed my own family travel strategy. It’s worked (knock on wood) well the last few times we’ve journeyed from the old homestead and hoping it doesn’t do me wrong this time either! Here are my tips….
The Early Bird Gets the Worm — I’ve always prefered to travel first thing in the morning, but I’ve found this to be essential with kidlets. My kidlets are always at their best first thing in the day. They are still young and they tend to get wound up pretty easy. I cannot count on them to take a nap or go to sleep whenever we are traveling anywhere, but especially when we fly. Going to the airport and flying on a plane is a total adventure for them and they don’t want to miss a minute of it by sleeping. For us a Red Eye would be a complete disaster and I wouldn’t want to put my fellow travelers through that experience. Also leaving earlier in the day avoids most traffic delays and when traveling by plane, get through airport security in a timely fashion.
Germs Travel Too — I always keep a bag of every sort of medicine and ointment your family could need – and not in my checked bag when flying, but in my carry-on one for easy travel access. However, whether you travel via plane or car, these enclosed spaces give germs the perfect opportunity to spread. I believe that hand sanitizer (I like Purell, but even drugstore brands are good), antibacterial hand wipes (Wet Ones) and saline wipes (Boogie Wipes) are essential to fighting off the germs that you and your kids may acquire from your holiday travels.
Snacks for the Ride — I never count on feeding my kidlets with the food available on an airplane or trust that I’ll be able to stop at convenience stores and restaurants on the way. A two-hour delay on the tarmac or bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway can easily put a kink in your plans. I always bring plenty of treats for your family to snack on – the easier the better. A bag of Goldfish cheese crackers (or pretzels), boxes of raisins and 100 Calorie Packs of Animal Crackers along with apple juice boxes or small water bottles (under 4 oz to get thru air travel security), will keep your travel snacks healthy, delicious, and easy to handle.
My daughter packs her Baby Cinderella doll while my son opts for Godzilla, which would save us from any monster invasion while we’re away
Keep Kids Entertained — I’d say the biggest obstacle when traveling is keeping my kidelts entertained during long car rides or cross-country flights and avoiding the constant and annoying question, “are we there yet?” Whenever we travel, whether by car or plane, each of my kidlets get to fill their own backpack filled with toys, books, crayons and games of their own choice to keep them busy and for the most part quiet. When my natives start getting restless I reach into my travel bag for my secret weapon, a new toy/book I’ve picked up. If your kidlets are like mine, a new toy or book can keep them occupied for the duration of our trip. The key though here is not to bring them out too soon. I wait until the meltdown is imminent and then whip them out.
I also take advantage of all entertainment technology I can. I stash one or two extra sets of headphones in my travel bag so the kidlets can listen to music or watch a movie/cartoon either from the in-flight entertainment or on my iPad/iPod.
I always breathe a sigh of relief and pour myself a big glass of wine once we’ve reached our final destination. Then the countdown and stress for the return trip home begins!
Now it’s your turn to share. What is your tip for traveling with kids?
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