Whether you’re driving a few hours to the grandparents, flying across the country to see your sister, or taking a train into the city, holiday travel can be tough. Add kids to that equation and the stress level can go through the roof. But with a bit of preparation, you can make holiday travel with your kids less stressful and more enjoyable for the whole family.
Try these tips for happier holiday travel:
- Pick the right time to travel. If you have flexibility in your plans, avoid travelling on the busiest days, December 23, 27, and 30. It’s also wise to travel earlier in the day when you’re kids aren’t already tired and cranky. If you’re flying, earlier flights are also less likely to be delayed.
- Build extra time into your travel schedule. Maybe you and your partner can do five hours straight in the car with just one bathroom break, but your kids can’t. Factor in more frequent stops and include a little time to let the kids burn off some pent up energy in a fast food restaurant playroom or by stopping at a rest stop with green space where they can get their wiggles out (with your careful supervision, of course). If you’re flying, leave more time to get through security so the kids aren’t rushed in a situation that can be both boring (waiting in line) and a bit distressing (getting patted down by the TSA).
- Keep your older kids in the loop. Let them know how you’ll be travelling, where you’ll stay, and the other details of the trip. It’s usually easier for them to adjust and be flexible if they have an idea of what to expect.
- Be prepared for pretty much anything. Bring a few things that are new and fun to keep your kids occupied while you’re travelling. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just something that will occupy their time and make the trip seem to go by faster, like a new coloring book, an audio book, or a few kid-friendly game apps they can use on your phone. It’s also a good idea to bring food—low-mess snacks, sandwiches, and a treat—because it can be tough to find healthy food your kids like on the road or at the airport.
- Remember to breathe. Dealing with a fussy baby, uncooperative toddler, or bored teen can take your stress level up to 11. Try stress-relieving breathing exercises or, if you’re travelling with your partner, give each other an occasional break where one of you gets to read or listen to music for a half hour while the other does all the child wrangling.
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