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Holiday Travel: 5 Tips for Smooth Traveling with Kids

Dec 18, 2012 10:59AM ● By Erin Frisch

Holiday Travel: 5 Tips for Smooth Traveling with Kids

Traveling during the holidays, whether to visit family, take a ski holiday, or seek some sunshine, is never easy. Winter weather can throw a curveball at you, as can unanticipated traffic and flight delays. With millions of Americans on the road this season, adding kids to the mix might be enough to make you want to stay put instead. But with careful planning and the right attitude, you can keep your kids happy and yourself calm on your way to your destination. Check out these tips to help make traveling with little ones easier.

If you’re flying . . .

Check in and select seat assignments online. This will guarantee that your family can sit as close together as possible. If seat assignments are not available until you get your boarding passes at the airport, inquire about sitting together as soon as you arrive. Most airlines will do what they can to seat families together. Before you arrive for your flight, educate younger kids about airport security. Explain how they will need to remove shoes and put their belongings (stuffed animals too!) on the belt for the x-ray machine. Being prepared will help you get to your gate as quickly as possible.

Feed your kids before boarding the plane and bring snacks. Most children are better behaved when they’re well nourished. If your flight offers a meal, it probably won’t be served until a little over an hour into the flight. Make sure kids are full enough to tide them over until then. Arm yourself with a good supply of easy-to-eat travel foods (cut-up fruit, dry cereal, pretzels) and keep them within reach. Don’t forget juice or water, since cabin air is very drying. If your kids don’t like the food served on the plane, snacks can stave off temper tantrums.

If you’re driving . . .

Beat the rush hour. Plan your trip so that you are not passing through big cities during rush hour. You can’t avoid delays caused by accidents or roadwork, but you can plan to use off-hour driving to your advantage. Alternatively, if you’re well rested and comfortable driving in the dark, it might be beneficial to travel at night instead. There are fewer cars on the road then, and there’s a good chance the kids will sleep most of the time.

Break the trip up. Take a 15-to-30-minute break at least every two hours. Giving your kids regular breaks to move their muscles and shake out the wiggles will prevent them from going into “are we there yet” mode, and a stretch will do you good too. Bring along a frisbee or football to toss around at rest stops. If foul weather prevents outdoor play, consider stopping at a restaurant with an indoor playground.

In general . . .

Make it fun. Let each child pack a bag of toys, games, and books. Bring a couple of surprises you can grab when they start getting bored. Start a family sing-a-long or a storytelling session where each family member adds to the story. Make a list of things you might see along your trip and hold a scavenger hunt. Break out a book on CD or if you have a portable DVD player, bring that along with a couple of favorite movies.

Wherever your travels take you this month, we wish you happy holidays!

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