Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids

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Kids Traveling at Airport

The holidays are almost here, and that means many of us are making travel plans to spend time with loved ones. While we’re excited to make new memories, sometimes the thought of traveling with young kids makes us less-than cheery. Here are some of my top tips for traveling with little ones this holiday season.

Plan for more time than you actually need

For many of us, getting the family to leave the house on-time can be a challenge, so give yourself some cushioning in your schedule. I always add half an hour, so if I want to be at the airport 1.5 hours before my flight, I plan to leave at a time that puts us there 2 hours before the flight. If you arrive too early, you can always find ways to entertain the kids, but arriving too late can cause unneeded stress.

Keep them occupied

Keeping kids occupied is key for a pleasant flight. Here are some of my favorite tricks for keeping even the most squirmy kids busy:

Give them interactive activities.Airplane Activity Book

My daughter loves a good activity book, and this one from Amazon keeps her busy for a long time because there are over 100 different activities she can do.

If you choose to bring a tablet for your kids, be sure to download games ahead of time. My toddler is more into games than movies, so I usually download 2-3.

Bring several brand new (and affordable) toys

Kids Travel ToysEach time your kid starts to get bored with their current activity, present a new toy to redirect their attention. Consider taking it a step further and wrapping the toys in wrapping paper to make it even more enjoyable! We call them “good traveler prizes”.

Pick up a few things at your local dollar store, or buy a pack of fidget toys like these, to keep kiddos busy.

Pack Less, Stress Less

Isn’t it amazing how such small humans require so much gear?! Luckily there are ways to avoid lugging bulky items.

Rental Baby Gear with Babyquip

Babyquip is a service that matches you with local providers who rent out their baby gear. Everything from cribs to strollers, toys and more. With Babyquip you can even get these items delivered straight to your hotel or vacation rental. Baby Equipment with Babyquip

Rent a Carseat with Your Rental Car

If you plan on renting a car on your trip, consider springing for a rental careseat. They are one of the bulkiest items you’ll need, and your rental dealer will be able to install it properly for you.

Travel Carseat Strap (aka Lifesaver!)

If you do plan on bringing a carseat, you NEED this strap. This allows you to attach your carseat to your luggage and carry it around the airport with ease. Goodbye sore back, hello free hand!Carseat attached to Suitcase

Triple check your carry-on packing list


Your carry-on will be your best friend on a flight with kids. Make sure you don’t overlook some of the basic essentials:

  • Kids headphones for movies/tablets – we LOVE these ones
  • A jacket – the plane gets chilly!
  • Hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer wipes
  • Traveling with a baby? Don’t forget the changing pad
  • Snacks, and more snacks

Prepare Your Kids, and Get them excited

Get your kids excited about the trip, and remind them of all the fun things you’ll do once you arrive. But reiterate the importance of them being good listeners, so that you can make it to your destination on time.

I always get my kids a disposable camera once we are at our destination. It allows them to capture their own memories, and appreciate their surroundings. Consider getting your photos developed before heading home so they have something to look at on the way back.

Planning a Roadtrip? Stop often, and time your drive right

My husband and I have found the secret to roadtrips with our otherwise restless, cranky toddler: Leave right before bedtime. By leaving at night time, my daughter spends the majority of the ride asleep, and we get a quiet pleasant trip. For destinations less than 5 hours away, we typically leave at 7pm. You might also choose to leave before a naptime to make the trip a little more peaceful. Traveling with Baby in Carseat

Adjust your expectations and enjoy

Hopefully these tips make your travels a little smoother. Remember that while vacations with young kids can be a bit stressful for you, they are likely having the time of their lives, and making memories they’ll treasure forever. 

Want more mom-approved tips for traveling with kids? Check out some of our other travel-related posts.


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