These Tips Will Make Traveling With Your Kids a Breeze This Holiday Season

Photo Credit: Monet Hambrick

Keep your mini travelers - and yourself - happy this holiday season with these simple tips.
Monet Hambrick Dec, 12, 2018

Holiday travel can be dreadful with airports packed like sardines, increased flight delays, jam packed roadways, and poor weather causing cancellations and chaos. Add kids to the mix, who could care less about your struggles, and traveling over the holidays can seem overwhelming. But fear not, traveling with two small children over the last couple of years has armed me with a few tricks that can help you conquer traveling with kids during the holidays.

Flying

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Book an Early Flight

If you haven’t booked your flight yet consider an early one. Early flights are less likely to be delayed. If they are, you have more options to rebook the rest of the day.

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Get Travel Insurance

Delays and cancellations during the holidays are common so be prepared and get travel insurance. While travel insurance won’t prevent delays, it will be easier to recoup the costs of buying extra food at the airport, or worst case, a hotel if your flight is cancelled on your return. Even if you purchased your ticket already and declined the insurance you can add it on directly with the insurance company of your choice.

Pack Extra Supplies for Infants, Toddlers, and Kids

Since delays are more likely during holiday travel come prepared for them.

For Infants: If you’re bottle feeding be sure to bring enough milk or formula to account for delays. If you’re traveling with a soft cooler ($17.99) and have ice packs ($8.99) delays can cause them to no longer be cool. Pack a zip-loc bag that can be filled with ice by one of the restaurants at the airport. Also, be sure to pack more diapers and wipes than you may actually need.

For Toddlers: Pack extra snacks, there is nothing like a hangry toddler. This will save you a lot of money and save some tears. I always travel with emergency lollipops in my purse. They always seem to cease meltdowns that can be expected from delayed flights and extra crowded airports.

Photo Credit: Monet Hambrick

Come prepared with some toys, activities and toddler headphones ($24.99) since most airlines provide the in-ear headphones that are too large for toddlers. Again, be sure to bring enough diapers, pull-ups and wipes to account for delays.

For Kids: Make sure your child’s tablet is fully charged and carry a portable charger ($27.99) with you just in case, since we all know outlets are hard to come by. Be sure to download apps that don’t require Wi-Fi! Pack sandwiches and snacks to avoid breaking the bank on airport food.

Be Prepared for Getting Through Security

If you think the TSA line is long on a normal day, you’re in for a surprise when traveling during the holidays. My number one advice is to get TSA Pre-Check for all adults. Children 12 and under automatically get pre-check when traveling with an adult who has it. You will be able to keep your shoes on and all your electronics in your bag.

Traveling with infants: If you’re traveling with a stroller check it at the ticket counter. Instead, use a carrier ($159) to hold your child, allowing you to get through the crowded airport easily and stay hands free.

If you are traveling with breast milk be sure to let the TSA agent know and remove it from your bag before putting it through screening. Additional testing will need to be done so allow an extra 15-30 minutes depending on how packed the airport is.

Photo Credit: Monet Hambrick

Traveling with toddlers: If you are traveling with a car seat don’t struggle with getting to the gate. Get a car seat transporter ($70.99) that allows you to pull your car seat with your child in it or a car seat bag ($42.24) to wear it as a backpack.

Traveling with gifts: Do not pack them wrapped, as they’re more likely to be searched by TSA. Not only do you not want your time and wrapping paper wasted, imagine TSA unwrapping your child’s gift right in front of them.

Know Where the Airport Playground Is

A lot of airports have kids playgrounds; enquire about the location ahead of time. Your kids will get to burn off some energy before your flight and make as much noise as they want to. This will especially be helpful if your flight is delayed.

Road Trips 

Start Your Drive at the Right Time

If possible drive at night. Not only will the roads be less congested, your kids will be asleep, meaning you won’t have to cater to them as much and you won’t hear the dreaded “are we there yet.” If you can’t drive at night, start your drive around their nap time to buy you a few quiet hours.

Photo Credit: Monet Hambrick

Buy an Activity Tray

An activity tray ($29.97) makes it easy for your children to stay occupied. They will be able to color, complete homework, and play with their toys. The raised sides will prevent their crayons, toys, and food from falling on the floor throughout your drive.

Finally, whether you’re flying or driving, understand that holiday travel is stressful for a lot of people. Take a moment to breathe, remember the reason for the season and try to relax.

Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family.  Her motto is “if kids live there kids can visit” and she and her husband have taken their 2 and 4 year old to 21 countries on 6 continents.  You can along her families adventures on Instagram.