Oh my, we have a lot of travel coming up for the Holidays…and this time around we are toting along four kids ages 2 months – 9 years.
We are kicking off Thanksgiving week with an out of town swim meet for my oldest daughter. The whole family will be traveling together, staying in a hotel, and spending 5+ hours on the pool deck each day. Later that week we have a Turkey Day camping trip planned where we will drive out to the desert and spend 3 nights in our travel trailer. We will top of our holiday travel with a 6 hr drive to visit family in Arizona for Christmas.
Have I gone mad? Possibly!! But I have a few tricks up my sleeve and a few tips to share with you on surviving holiday travel with kids.
Not your typical emergency kit, this is a small box that I keep under my front seat. It holds anything and everything a mom might need. I cannot tell you how many times we have gone through a drive through only to get back on the road to find we don’t have any straws. Or we stop at a rest stop and there’s no toilet paper. I keep this emergency kit in my car at all times but it is especially useful on those long drives.
I am not opposed to the occasional treat but when I’m stuck in the car with my kids for 6+ hours I do not want them hyped up on sugar, dyes, and processed foods. We opt to bring healthy(er) alternatives for our on the go munchies. A small cooler with cold water is always a good idea when traveling during the summer months or if you have an infant and need to travel with bottles ready to go.
Until this past year we didn’t allow digital media in the car. In all honesty, they weren’t old enough and bringing along the DVD player just caused more trouble than it was worth. Now they are 9, 7, and 5 and we found this awesome ipad holder for the car, it was totally worth it to bring it along. With the ipad and digital movie downloads, we didn’t have to bring along the bulky DVD players and the endless amounts of DVD’s. With a USB port car charger we were able to keep the ipad battery full and the kids thoroughly entertained.
Busy Boxes (Non-digital entertainment alternative)
So what did we do for entertainment before we brought along movies to watch? Busy Boxes! These are great for the kids to decorate and put together. It’s always fun to have some new little projects to work on during a long drive. These are great for the younger kids as you can create a box that works with their age group
Stop and Stretch
Any time you’re traveling with kids you are going to have to stop along the way. We usually stop every 2-2.5 hrs. When we do stop, we make sure EVERYONE uses the restroom, whether or not they think they need to. If you see a park or a grassy area, you may want to let them run around a bit too. And, as always, Mama usually fuels up on a caffeinated beverage.
Pack along your favorite soothing essential oils. I do not leave the house without my “Mommy Meltdown” blend. To make this blend mix 7 drops vetiver, 7 drops patchouli, 15 drops valor, 15 drops stress away, and 25 drops of lavender in a roller ball bottle and fill with sweet almond oil. I apply to my wrists and temples to keep those Mommy Meltdowns in check!
Flying the Friendly Skys? These are some tips specific to airline travel with kids:
Children under the age of two do not need to have a ticket as they can ride on your lap. However, if there are enough empty seats on your plain, you may end up with a place for them to sit. I always bring the car seat with me to the gate and ask the flight attendant at the gate if the plane is full. If it is not, you may be allowed to use the car seat on the plane even though your child is a “lap child”. If the plane is full they will simply Gate-Check your car seat and bring it back up to you after the flight. To make lugging a car seat through the airport a little bit easier, I have a backpack cover for it.
Small Gifts are Always Appreciated
Speaking of flight attendants and flight crews – bring them a little something. They work crazy hours and are often away from their own families during the holidays. I bring them a little treat like chocolates.
Flying with Toddlers
Toddlers are the trickiest and I get asked all the time for tips. First up – take their car seat on the plane with you. If they don’t have the freedom to roam the plane it will be better for everyone! Consider the flight just like any other car ride, they must ride in their car seat.
Bring an empty sippy cup through the gate – this will make going through security much easier and you can fill it with milk or juice at one of the restaurant locations on the other side.
Don’t Stress About It
Most importantly, don’t stress about it. Remember that this is the Holiday Season, and enjoy it. You have the control over how easy or hard this travel can be so don’t give in to the hustle and bustle. Slow down, take your time, and HAVE FUN!