Recently, my husband and I flew to a wedding without a toddler in tow. No offense to my sweet boy, but by comparison, traveling just the two of us was as relaxing as a spa day. There was no security line stroller-wrangling, digging in my bag for another toy car, or wondering just how many more minutes until we landed. After two and a half years traveling with a toddler, it took a solo trip for me to realize how hard it is to travel with kids.
Thanksgiving is the biggest travel weekend of the year, so I gathered all the tried-and-true kids travel tips I could find. Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, these tips will (probably) get you to your destination without pulling out your hair. The #1 tip? Planning is the key to success (and no breakdowns). Read on for six ways to set yourself up for holiday travel success.
Leggings are your best friend
It’s all about comfy clothes and shoes when you travel. No one wants high-waisted jeans digging into your belly during a long car ride or flight. That tip goes for your kids, too. If you’re leaving early in the morning, just keep them in their pajamas. Higher chance of them passing out on the journey, right?
Spend extra time packing (to save your sanity)
Organization is necessary when you’re wrangling an entire family’s worth of stuff, especially when those little people require so many things (how?!). Take the time to lay out everything you and your family will need for your tip and set aside all the travel necessities. Instead of just throwing everything else into a bag, use packing cubes. Pro tip – buy packing cubes in multiple colors so each family member has their own.
Distractions are key
The trick for happy kids while traveling? Give them something novel. It will keep their attention much longer than the toys or games they play with all the time. And it doesn’t have to expensive – think stickers, a new book, or a rattle. Amazon and Target’s Bullseye Playground are goldmines for cheap toddler and kids toys.
Make a game plan (but know it will change)
You of all people are aware, but there’s no such thing as a “quick drive” with kids, and it will take twice as much time to get through the airport. If you’re taking a road trip, plan a few stops for food, bathroom breaks, and to stretch your legs. Take a look at your route to scout out rest stops that have clean bathrooms and restaurants your whole family will enjoy. Heading to the airport? Ask for help from people around you. Let others go around you in the security line. And if all else fails, those screen rules go out the window during trips.
Avoid hangry situations with all the snacks
Have you ever seen a baby or toddler (or your husband) when they’re hungry? It’s not a pretty situation. Avoid that with your entire being. If you have a baby who drinks formula, make sure you have the powder ready to go. Be sure to take it out at security because they’ll likely do additional tests. Traveling with a toddler or big kid? Pack reusable water bottles and a bag full of single-serve snacks. If you need anything on the road, Starbucks always stocks organic pouches and most airport and gas stations have healthy-ish options like milk, trail mix, and fruit.
And remember – give yourself some grace
If you need a moment for yourself, distract your kids, put on your earbuds, and listen to your favorite song. Tell your partner you need a moment and take a lap around the airport. Indulge in that cookie. You’ll be back to your routine soon enough – enjoy the holiday now.
This post was in partnership with Talaria Flats, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.