The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy quality time with friends and family. For many people, this means traveling. When you add children, however, traveling also means doing more in less time, often with bored, anxious or cranky children in tow. To ease the stress and anxiety of traveling with children, there are things parents can do, bring or plan on before finding themselves in the middle of an airport with a screaming, tired child.
1) Get started early. Whether traveling by car, plane or train, make sure to get an early start. Straining for time is a big stress trigger, and when it comes to traveling, everything always takes longer.
2) Pack a change of clothes to keep on-hand. Every parent knows that accidents happen, usually when you are least prepared. Don’t forget a change of clothes yourselves too, just in case that accident happens to be a cup of milk spilled in Dad’s lap.
3) If driving is part of the travel plan, invest in a portable navigation device. Low-end models run less than $60-75. Car rental companies will provide one for a nominal fee, usually around $10 per day. Getting lost on the road with a carload of kids is no way to spend the holidays.
4) Entertainment – If you have one, consider downloading several new games and movies for your iPhone, iPad or other device. Many games are free, or at least less and a dollar or two. This will keep them busy for sure.
5) Carry a portable treasure chest. Load up on inexpensive new toys, with the key word here being new. A small bag of dollar store toys can keep kids occupied while flying, driving or waiting for a connecting flight.
6) Have kid-friendly drinks and snack foods on-hand. Airports and truck stops don’t always have options suitable for children.
7) You will likely bring home more than what you packed. Toss an extra duffel bag into your suitcase. It will make bringing home all those gifts easier, especially if Grandma and Grandpa are a part of the festivities.
8) Some checks are simply worth writing. Early boarding, preferred seating, a hotel suite rather than just a room, these all cost more, but can make traveling much less hectic and stressful.
9) Headphones, headphones, and most importantly, headphones. Whether the kids have portable gaming devices, movie players or other electronic amusements, do yourself a favor and get a good set of children’s headphones. This will not only help them, but help YOU!
10) Be realistic in your expectations. If it causes grief or gray hairs, ask yourself if it is really necessary. Do you have to spend the entire day at Aunt Susie’s? Is it really necessary to make the kids wear their Sunday finest to meet Grandma at the airport? Keep everything simple so you can all enjoy the trip.