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July 2. That was the date when it had seemed like a great idea to travel home to spend the kids Christmas Break with your family. Amidst pictures in your head of jammie wearing cousins snuggling on your mom’s couch on Christmas morning you bought the plane tickets.
Now, 2 days before you travel, you’re watching your two little angels bicker over which movie to watch and you’re panicking. School has only been out for 3 days and you’re already feeling your patience thin.
What if there are weather delays? That happens right? Not just in the movies. What if they fight and spill their juice on the person next to them? What if your 6 year old takes your 4 year olds doll away and she starts crying and everyone on the plane gives you the long suffering totally annoyed stare? What if your baby has a potty accident?…maybe the tickets are refundable…
Or, you could do a little pre-planning and have an amazing and stress free trip. Now that would totally rock! And then you could go ahead and buy those matching cousin jammies for Christmas Eve.
5 Easy Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids
1. The Go Bag
Put together a bag for each child that has new toys/books that they’ve never seen before. If they love coloring buy them a new book with a new set of crayons. The dollar store and the Target $1.00 bins are great places to source these items from. Amazon is great too when you don’t want to run out and run another errand before your trip! Mini Play-Doh cartons, individual lego kits, new books, all fairly inexpensive, but totally worth the peace and serenity each will earn.
2. Healthy Snacks
Traveling can be exhausting for everyone, the kiddo’s are no exception. Eating in the airport and on the go is not only expensive, but the unhealthy options will sap energy quickly. We’ve all seen the after math of a sugar crash, and it’s not a pretty sight. Have some non-sugary snacks available to help them keep their energy up throughout the day. The day before, buy some fruit and nuts if they are not allergic. Individual packs of mandarin oranges and peaches are great choices. (These count in the individual allowances for liquid carry-on’s if flying.) Favorite granola bars or a bag of granola is also easy carry.
3. Separate Seats
If you have button tiny button pushers, why not give them a little space? If possible, choose seats across the aisle, have one parent sit with each child. You’re close enough to be able to share resources and chat, but everyone gets a little personal space as well. If you’re a single parent traveling with 2 or more, take the middle seat and alternate the window turns on different flight segments.
4. Check in Early
Online check-in opens for most airlines 24 hours early. The earlier you check in the less likely you are to get “bumped” in the case of an oversold flight. Less time stranded in an airport unwillingly is a win win. It also ensures you have the greatest amount of time to verify your seat assignments and contact customer service as needed if you need to ask to be reasigned. Verify that you are all assigned together, then re-verify within 2 hours of your flight.
Remember, while you are purchasing a flight, the airline is not required to accommodate you seated together. Most will make every effort to do so, but don’t hesitate to ask if needed. Sometimes planes are swapped out for a new plane with a different seating configuration. The automated system might not have seated you together and a live agent can adjust those assignments.
5. Choose Flight Times Wisely
That 6 am flight seems like a great idea when you’re thinking of having the afternoon at your destination. However, when you take into account how early you really are going to have to get up to get ready and get to the airport, allowing sufficient time for longer security lines, is it really worth it? Why not treat the travel as an adventure. Allow extra time in between flights if you have a layover for a relaxed lunch. Explore the airports, most have kid play areas and art on display. Everyone will arrive a few hours later, but relaxed and in a better mood.
These are just a few suggestions to help you plan a great traveling experience with your family. What has worked for you in the past with your kids?