Ah, the first holiday break for the year. While you’re likely excited about spending the time with friends and family, you’re probably not looking forward to the miles of driving or crowded airports. If you’re traveling with children in the coming weeks, here are some tips to keep the spring in your step.
- Pack less toys and pack quiet toys. Small kids are often interested in new things, which includes the air sickness bag in the pocket (graba pen, draw a face and have a puppet show), in-flight magazines and the emergency landing card (talk about colors, airplanes, slides, funny vests). Pack a surprise bag of small, wrapped toys they haven’t seen yet. On the plane, this is also the time to put away your book or iPhone until they’re sleeping. Your small children (and your neighbors seated nearby) will be happiest with all of your attention on your children.
- Pack more diapers/wipes/extra change of clothes. I average a diaper per hour for babies under six months, and a diaper every two hours for babies six to twelve months. Yes, it’s a lot, especially if you’re traveling internationally, but you don’t want to be looking for diapers in the middle of traveling. Pack at least two packs of wipes and split them between bags. I had someone walk off with my suitcase at baggage claim after a 12-hour flight and having extra diapers & wipes in my carry-on was a lifesaver.
- Plan your food options. No matter how or where you’re traveling, bring food along for your child. Options while traveling can be limited and your child might be hungry outside of meal times served on planes or between rest stops, not to mention being stuck on a frozen runway. Pack at least one well-loved snack for take-off and landing; the chewing and swallowing will make the pressure changes much more comfortable. Keep an eye on the sugar content – you don’t want to be trapped in a plane or car with sugar-highed kids!
- Most importantly, relax. Kids can pick up on your tension and become even more upset, so keep your destination in mind, stay calm and do whatever is needed to keep your children safe and content. If that means a friend along to help, then do it. Years from now, you want your children to fondly remember the fun holiday visiting Grandma and Grandpa. (You can fill them in on the chaos and drama when they have their own children!)