10 Tips for Traveling with Family over the Holidays

family holiday travel

family holiday travel
Photo Credit: ©altanaka / Dollar Photo Club​

Sometimes you wish times were simpler like the good ol’ days when you could load the kids up in a one-horse open sleigh and go dashing through the snow, over to Grandma’s house, which was just half a mile over the hills. Sounds fun, adventurous and oh-so-holidayish (yes, that’s a new word we just made up – learn it, love it, say it). But oh no, times have changed. Grandma now lives thousands of miles away and instead of dashing through the snow, singing Christmas carols and drinking hot cocoa, families now have to plan months in advance and dip into little Jimmy’s college savings to pay for flight tickets. They also have to pack up everything they own just short of the family cat (wait, wha? Meowcicle can’t come with?), wait in long TSA lines, and  try to keep infants and toddlers appeased in a tiny metal tube filled with 800 people as you try to stay calm. Complete with turbulence, the fasten seatbelt sign that never goes off and disapproving looks from strangers, that one horse open sleigh is looking pretty nice right about now. But don’t fret; we’ve put together the 10 best tips for traveling with families over the holiday season so you can jingle all the way.

  1. Download GateGuru: Do yourself a favor and download the brilliant app, GateGuru immediately. Seriously, do it now – we’ll wait…. Get it? Got it? Good. This little gem of an app (available on apple and androids) will organize your itinerary in real-time, including security wait time and flight delays; provide you with a detailed map of whatever airport you’re hating loving life at (think bathrooms, restaurants, and Starbucks), assist you in renting a car, check weather forecasts, and track all of your travel stats so you can brag (or complain, if you’re a glass half-empty type of person) about how many miles you’ve flown in the past 6 months. It’s like your little travel assistant, right in your pocket.
  2. Pack Light: There’s nothing worse than trying to lug 10 suitcases and 5 carry-ons through the airport, not to mention two tiny travelers, your children. Save yourself the stress by packing light, really light. Do not pack “option” outfits – be cut-throat with your outfit decisions and pack pants that you can even wear twice with two different outfits! Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear into shoes to make more room in the suitcase.
  3. Security Line Bootcamp: Prepare you and your family for the dreaded security line. Do not be “that family” that takes 45 minutes to take off their shoes, put their pile of belongings on the conveyor belt and then attempt to go through the metal detector and say – whoops, I forgot I was wearing a belt. Do practice runs at home (we’re not kidding), make sure if your kids are walking, they wear shoes that can easily be taken off – think Velcro or anything without laces, keep all of your 3 oz. liquids in plastic bags at the top of your carry-on for easy access and know how to fold down your stroller in 3.5 seconds flat. Pretend this is the security line Olympics, people, and the U.S.A. is counting on you – you can do it!
  4. Backup Outfits: Back up clothes for you and your baby are a must. There’s an unspoken rule that all infants must either poop or vomit when the fasten seat-belt sign is ON. Come prepared.
  5. Pack Extra Wipes: Even if your children are out of the diaper stage. You can use wipes for EVERY GERMY SURFACE, face wipes, unforeseen spills, hand cleanses and everything in between.
  6. Bring Surprise Toys and Games: Your child will NOT be interested in the same old toy she plays with every day, so secretly buy some small, cheap toys to bring on the flight and “Surprise” your baby with these new fun items to explore. Then give yourself a mental high-five for being the best-mom-EVER. Bonus points if you wrap them up and have your kids unwrap them like Christmas came early this year!
  7. Pack Forbidden Treats: Desperate times may call for desperate measures. If your older kids are getting bored and irritable, whip out a lollipop or some sort of treat they’re usually not allowed to have at home. They’ll soon learn to love flying and good behavior.
  8. Baby Ears: Breastfeed or give your baby a bottle during takeoff and landing to ease ear pressure issues. If baby is not hungry, try offering a pacifier – works every time.
  9. Don’t Get Hangry: Make sure you and your family are always fed and energized when navigating airports and crowds. Check out the handy GateGuru’s Best Airport Restaurants so you don’t have to resort to eating Cheetos and tictacs in lieu of actual meals.
  10. Breathe: Your toddler pulling the lady’s hair in front of you or the poop exploding out of your baby’s pants during takeoff are all going to be fun stories to tell while you’re shoving your face with pumpkin pie and (many) glasses of wine. Just breathe. This too shall pass.

2 comments

  1. Oh, how I can relate! These are great tips. Years ago, when I was a single mom of two little boys, I made the annual trek to visit family over Thanksgiving break. Of course, since I was the only one who moved away from home, they all expected me to come visit. They still do. I’ll never forget one year when my boys were 8 and 6, we had landed, got our luggage and had to wait over an hour just to be able to get on a bus to long-term parking. That very trip, I said, ‘If I can get on a plane as a single mom with 2 little boys, then my family can get on a plane and come visit me, too.’ More than 20 years later and I never made that trip over Thanksgiving again.

Comments are closed.

About The Author Kristin Helms

Corporate life turned stay-at-home #momlife, Kristin Helms is a mother of two, writer, and founder of Tribe Magazine. Her mommy musings have been published on The Huffington Post, Literary Mama, Pregnant Chicken, and Big City Moms, among others.