Ok gang. Today I thought I’d chat a bit about tips and tricks for surviving holiday travel with kids in tow. It’s said that Thanksgiving is one of the most traveled holidays of the year so I know that a few of us are gearing up for that always fun journey from point A to point B and back again. If you have kids like I do, then you know that, while traveling as an adult can sometimes be stressful, doing it with a gaggle of children in tow isn’t simply sometimes stressful; it’s pretty much always stressful. This becomes especially true when you have young children that want what they want when they want it (food, toys, etc) and need what they need when they need it (naps, diaper changes etc.). You feeling me?
Being the road warrior that I am, I will always choose driving over flying if it’s feasible. In the car you can spread out, take your time and make a mess if you have to. Your kids are free to make all the noise they want and the stops are on your watch, not the airline’s. That’s not always the case though as it was for us two Thanksgiving’s ago when we flew to Phoenix from Charlotte with all four kids in tow. At least for that trip both my husband and I were on hand to tag team the adventure. Back when we lived in Texas and Scott traveled full time for work, I flew at least twice a year ALONE with two small children. Now there’s a place where some juicy stories are hiding out. There may or may not be one involving a flight through a hurricane where pizza, barf bags and the kindness of strangers were involved. But I digress.
If your goal is to arrive without losing your child, your temper or your sanity, good luck. No one on earth has been able to accomplish that feat to this day. However, if you’d simply like a few tips and tricks for survival, then grab a seat and let’s do this.
Electronics Are Your Friend. When we’re home in the every day grind of life, electronics are limited to certain times and days. I know my kids would play 24/7 if I let them so I keep a tight leash. But when it comes to travel, that all goes out the window. Think of it like Halloween. We don’t let our kids eat piles and piles of candy every day, but on that night of Trick or Treating? Bring it on.
Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks. We adults like to eat when we’re bored. The same goes for our kids. Bring lots and lots of snacks (airport food is expensive and not always that tasty) and try to limit the amount of sugary snacks that you include or use them as incentive to be handed out when the flights all over. Sugared up kids on an airplane? Not so good.
Try To Fly When Your Kids Are Fresh. And by fresh, I mean not tired. This isn’t as big of a deal for older kids, but if you have napping aged children, making the assumption that they will fall asleep and nap on the plane is a bit of a risk. They might and if they do, you will be named best parent on the airplane. But if they don’t, be prepared to live in a multi-hour confined nightmare where screaming, crying and not listening to a word you say is the game of the day. In fairness I completely get it that the best flying times don’t always equate to the lowest fares and delays are considered the norm these days. Sometimes there simply isn’t another option. You gotta do what you gotta do and if we’re parents, we’ve all been there and promise nothing but kind smiles and offers of assistance if needed.
Leave Plenty of Time To Get Where You’re Going. This one applies to both driving and flying. I know that for me personally, it’s all about making good time when I’m traveling. That may work when you’re on your own but, as I’ve learned four kids in, it doesn’t work when you have children along for the ride. There’s bathroom breaks, food breaks, crying breaks, he hit me breaks…. The list goes on and on. You can pull your hair out and lose your sanity trying to keep to the clock or you can add an extra hour or two onto your travel time from the very beginning and give yourself a whole lot less stress in the process.
Last But Not Least, Relax. Traveling never goes according to plan. There’s always some wrench tossed into the mix to keep it interesting. Remember, you are definitely not the only one trekking across country with kids that are hitting their brother, throwing pasta across the aisle OR screaming bloody murder with tears shooting out of their eyes horizontally like liquid daggers because they want their favorite blanket which just so happens to be packed in the overhead compartment as the plane is beginning to takeoff with no sign of the seat belt sign being turned off at anytime in the near future (that may or may not have happened to me. Just sayin’.).
Travel is almost always a necessary part of the holidays. Just take it in stride, grab a Starbucks and take a deep cleansing breath. Remember why you’re subjecting yourself to the adventure in the first place; because the destination is always worth the effort. And who knows, maybe this trip will be the one where you all fall asleep on the plane and wake up when the wheels touch down. A girl can dream right?