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12 Christmas Travel Tips From Real Moms

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Christmas and Thanksgiving travel with kids is more stressful than any other vacation travel. You hope that by the time you’ve made it home again you at least have had enjoyable time with extended family, a great vacation and quality time with just your partner and kids. This was the consensus at our Holiday Travel-themed MOMtravelchat.

Here are so the best tips and ideas that came out of that conversation. Feel free to add your own below.

12 Real-Life Tips for Better Holiday Season Travel

Timing Is Everything

1. ‏Keeping to routines is hard when you are away from home, especially when you’re traveling during the Christmas rush and working with other people’s meal times and schedules.

Do your best to schedule driving. flying and family visits in ways that syncs with your youngest one’s eating and napping routines. It will make your trip much easier if your child has that familiar routine amid all the new and exciting things going on.

2. For short to mid-distance flights try your best to get a mid-morning flights or noon-time. Well-rested kids entertain themselves and resist squirming better than tired ones.

3. For long haul flights, choose the red-eye if you can rely on your child sleeping (and you can either sleep or handle the lack of sleep)

Request a bassinet from the airline or, if you have an infant, travel with a FlyBaby infant hammock (left) if you are flying with a very small baby at night.  Consider the pros and cons of bringing a car seat onboard

(Here are more tips for long-haul flying with a baby.)

4. Increasinlgy, airports are adding play areas. Any opportunity to get energy out will help mobile kids to behave and even sleep on the plane. Some play areas are better than others and they can be out of the way.

Moreover, airport staff don’t always know about them. Checking the airport website or Googling before you leave can help you find out if the airports you’re going through will have one.

5. In the car, where parents are less able to entertain and tend to little kids, driving during naptimes or in the evening around bedtime can make the trip much smoother. And both parents can sit in the front seat, which is usually more helpful to the driver.

Plan, Plan, Plan

6. Parents excel at list-making and it’s essential during holiday travel, when you don’t just need the  clothes but winter gear, gifts and maybe your contribution to the big meal.

If there’s anything essential and last minute, I post a sticky note to the front door. If we’re driving I also put my car keys with anything I might forget.

pearson airport has colorful play areas for kids

7. With babie and toddlers always, always pack change of clothes for yourself, not just for the little ones. Kids get carsick, diapers overflow, and tykes wind up in laps when you stop to eat.

8.  Stash towels, a  training potty, plus a leakproof bag or container in the car. And be sure to put the diaper bag where you can reach it easily.

We were once in a traffic jam on the Washington, DC Beltway (no surprise there) and it became apparent we had a diaper emergency.  Rich, who was in the backseat anyway, way able to fold the front passenger seat forward to create a changing table and do quick and essential baby cleaning.  It made being stuck in traffic less unpleasant than it could have been.

Plan More

9. During the holidays, places can easily overbook. If you are arriving early and especially if you’ll be arriving late, confirm your accommodation and early or late arrival before you leave, even if you have previously.

10. Before getting in the car at this time of year, check the weather and traffic, stock up on both grown-up and kid snacks and get gas so you don’t waste good driving time looking for a refill while the kids are napping. (read our road-trip safety checklist for winter driving.)

11. Our favorite perennial advice is Join AAA. The road service is oh-so-handy in bad weather. The discounts will give you a break on attractions like aquariums. The hotel hotel discounts come in handy, too, especially on last-minute stays where you would otherwise pay rack rates.

11. Pack patience and a large scarf to serve as a wrap, blanket, pillow, or light-blocking cover for you or your child.

12. Almost every parent talking to us has traveled with a sick kid during the Christmas break, or has had one get sick while away.

Pack a first aid kit with enough cold medicine, acetominephin or aspirin, nausea and diarrhea medication, rehydration tablets and sinus spray to keep sick ones comfortable until you can get to a pharmacy (or doctor).


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