It’s beginning to look a lot like…travel time! The holidays are wonderful and usually when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, it means family, family, and more family. Not everybody needs to travel over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, but not everybody lives within walking distance either. So when it comes to traveling with our families to join up with others during the holidays, it could include a lot of different situations, transportation, and accommodations.
I will be experiencing the holidays both close to home in Logan, Utah and also further away at my in-law’s home in San Diego, California. To prepare for these different circumstances of travel and celebration, I have come up with a list of 10 no-fail tips for traveling during the holidays. Oh yeah, with kids. Traveling with kids!
Before kids, it was pack up and leave, have a good time and go home. But now we need things like these lists to mentally prepare us. We need blog posts with moral support for flying with a grumpy babe surrounded by hundreds of strangers. We need at least three extra bags and one change of clothes for each person. We need car seats for each child, and we need to hide the presents in the trunk. We need to make sure enough treats/games/iPads/crayons/Marvel figurines were packed, and SO. Many. Diapers. And that’s just for the transportation part of it all!
Anyway, you get the point. Traveling with kiddos is not exactly a mindless thing. So before I continue to ramble on about how tricky it can be, I’ll just go ahead with some tips on how best to do so without losing your mind.
1. Prep Children
I don’t mean drug them for the car or plane ride (which I totally recommend, by the way, so maybe that is what I mean--safely of course). I mean, mentally prepare your kid(s) for what to expect for the next couple of days. How long will it take to get to where we’re going? Who will we see when we get there? What kind of activities are there to look forward to? Where will everybody be sleeping?
Doing this, even for young ones who don’t understand fully, helps children to process and prepare for what’s to come. New people, new places, and new events can be a lot for little brains to process, so the more they know beforehand, the better they may respond.
2. Memorize Where You’ve Packed What
I mean really. Think about it--in our homes we know exactly where to find a sippy cup, or a pair of pants, or a pen. Right? Most things have a place and are somewhat organized, or we would all certainly go crazy. Imagine if in order to find a clean t-shirt we had to look in the pantry, the garage, and each child’s room before finding one. It would be a mess. So why make it that way when traveling?
If this means you have to repack the diaper bag twice a day or clean out the stroller every so often, do it! Living out of a bag or two for any amount of time is already hard enough! Make it so you are able to open it up, reach in, and then grab what you need right away! Designate pockets, assign each corner of each bag, and remember where everything is!
3. Establish a Sleep Plan
It’s no secret that babies and toddlers need their sleep. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s hard to stick to an exact schedule, but it will definitely pay off if you try! Or rather, it will blow up in your face (and the faces of all of your relatives) if you don’t try! Staying in a hotel is nice because you have a set sleeping spot, and a crib of some sort should be available. But if you’re staying with friends or relatives, this could become a little trickier.
A play yard like the Nuna Sena is a fantastic option for traveling with young babes because not only is it great for sleeping, but it also provides some space for babies or toddlers to play that is just theirs. Another option for tiny ones is the Dock-a-Tot, a familiar piece of home! And again, remember the importance of letting kids know who is sleeping where to help with any nighttime struggles that might arise.
Avoid hangry meltdowns by having plenty of food on hand. This may mean a quick grocery trip as soon as the plane lands, or packing a full laundry basket of treats for you and the kids to last the week at a relative’s place a few hours away. When other people are involved and things are scheduled around meals (let's face it, there’s no such thing as a get together without food), it can be tricky to ensure your children will be able to hold out as long as they need to until the food is served. So a few things to munch on here and there is probably going to go a long way! As for little babies, using a Covered Goods nursing cover is my favorite way to easily nurse in public or on the go.
5. A Baby Carrier
This is a lifesaver for airports, or day trips out shopping, or perhaps when going to a museum or a park. Something like the Happy Baby Wrap is the perfect carrier because it hardly takes up any room at all, and can be used as a blanket, nursing cover, or burp cloth if necessary! Or for a little more support for longer days, there are Ergobaby carriers. Being hands-free is a big deal when there’s a lot going on. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to have a sweet babe attached to me for X amount of time!
6. Plan for the WeatherBecause it’s winter, there’s a fat chance the cousins will be outside playing in the snow. Which means either you’re left with a child who feels completely left out, or you’re packing up snow pants, gloves, and boots along with the rest of your stuff. I did mention each kid basically needs three bags, right? If you’re lucky like me, you’re off to somewhere warmer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean tank tops, shorts, and sandals, because again, it’s winter! Check the forecast and plan accordingly!
Hotels can be a nice sanctuary, but they certainly have their downfalls when it comes to children--especially children and hygiene. Luckily there is a great invention called the Puj Flyte, an incredibly easily transported tub for babies. Tubby Todd is also here to save the day with the Tubby Todd Travel Kit. Each container is 3 ounces so it is TSA approved. I would keep it handy just in case of an unexpected accident.