12 Real-Mom Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday travel with kids isn’t much more stressful than any other holiday travel and is usually worth it in terms of family time, vacation opportunities and time with extended family.  This was the consensus at our Holiday Travel-themed #MOMtravelchat this week. We got advice from some of our favorite regulars as well as from special guests Rania Kfuri at Free Like Birdie and William Beckler at AlltheRooms.

Here are some highlights from the conversation.  Please add your own in the comments below!

Timing Is Everything

1.  ‏keeping to routines is hard when you are away from home, especially when you’re traveling during the holidays and are working with other people’s meal times and schedules. But do your best to schedule driving. flying and family visits  in ways that syncs with eating and napping routines. It will make your trip much easier if your child has that family routine amid all the new and exciting things going on.

2. For short to mid-distance flights, TheMomJourneys says she’s tried morning noon and night flights. “Each has pros, but would vote early A.M. if had to pick.” This can work because well-rested kids entertain themselves and resist squirming better than tired ones.

FlyeBaby3. For long haul flights, choose the red-eye if you can rely on your child sleeping (and you can handle the lack of sleep)  Rania at FreeLikeBirdie reminded us to “request a bassinet” (or travel with a FlyBaby infant hammock, left) if you are flying with a very small baby at night. (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 your 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. Check the airport website or Googling before you leave can help you find out if the airports you’re going to 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

airport playground help during holiday travel6. Parents excel at list-making and it’s essential during holiday travel, when you don’t just need the usual 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. I’ve also been known to put my car keys in the refrigeratory if I have to remember something in there.

7. At least one parent reminded to always pack change of clothes for yourself, not just for the kids. Kids get carsick, diapers overflow, and babies and toddlers wind up in laps when you stop to eat.

8.  Several parents suggest stashing towels, a  training potty in the car, plus a leakproof bag or container. And be sure to put the diaper where you can reach it in case you’re stuck in traffic. 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, William at ‏Allt The Rooms says to 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 grown-up snacks and get gas beforehand. Otherwise you can waste good driving time while the kids are napping.

AAA is helpful on family road trips11. Our favorite perennial advice is Join AAA. The road service is oh-so-handy in bad weather. And  discounts help a lot with activities. The hotel discounts come in handy, too, especially on last-minute stays where you would otherwise pay rack rates.

11. Pack patience and a pashmina to serve as blanket, pillow, or wrap for you or your child, suggested one mom.

The Best for Last

12. The Best Tip award for this party goes to mom Meredith Block. Her trick for getting through the holiday is, “Pre-planning, patience and wine!”

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12 holiday travel tips from moms who have been there and back again

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  1. budget jan
    December 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm — Reply

    Love the baby hammock idea, I have never seen one of them in use. It would have been great for a Turkish Mum we saw on a 13 hour bus journey who had a toddler and a baby (who slept on a pillow on Mums lap for most of the way).

    • January 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm — Reply

      I guess it would also work for bus journeys. And trains, too!

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