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Traveling with Kids Over the Holidays

Little girl happily resting head on suitcase after packing | Traveling with Kids for the Holidays by Parent Like a Professional

For anyone, traveling for the holidays can be a real challenge. Once you add children into the mix, with a global pandemic that seems to be never-ending, you are dealing with a different beast that must be faced with a lot of bravery, laughter, and snacks…. lots and lots of snacks!

My partner and I have parents that live in two different states, so traveling for the holidays is just what we always did. We would visit one set for Christmas, and the other for the New Year. Many of our friends thought it was crazy to continue this tradition after the kids were born, but we felt it was important for our family and we have continued these travel plans throughout the years. After many flights and road trips, we picked up a few traveling tips for making every trip a successful trip.

Our “Trip Tips” for parents traveling with kids include:

Plan Flight Times 

This all depends on how long the flights are. Short flights are great because you can select times that don’t disrupt their normal schedule. I’d recommend keeping these during the day to avoid having to wake them up early or arrive at your destination too late. For longer flights, we discovered success while traveling with kids by timing flights around naps or waking the children up early so that they can sleep on the plane. Both seemed to make the flights go by quicker.

TSA Pre-Check 

Get it. The fact that it’s so much faster and everyone can keep their shoes on, makes it a no-brainer for reducing the stress of long lines and fussy children.


Our family doesn’t allow much screen time at home, but all those limitations go out the window when we travel. And even though we use devices, there are still a few helpful strategies to make sure you’re well prepared. First, make sure to download movies or shows to last throughout the entire flight plus a few extra for delays or pre-boarding. Do this a couple of days before so that you aren’t trying to download programming the night before (because the internet always seems to slow down when you need it most). Check that all the headphones work and be sure to have extra batteries if the headphones are wireless. Bring a charger for each device and a splitter if multiple kiddos are sharing a device. Last, but not least, try to save devices to the end after exhausting all other activities (reading, drawing, games, etc.) or until you create a mini schedule that the children can see and understand.


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Change of Clothes 

For all, including YOU (for those fun times when you are holding your infant who has a massive explosion, or your 5-year-old gets airsick and doesn’t make it all in the bag)! Don’t forget hand sanitizer, wipes, and little trash bags.


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Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser with Bags

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes On The Go
Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Wipes​
Foaming Pump Hand Sanitizer​, 6pk



Bring new coloring activities, books, and games (no small pieces) that your child can do alone, as well as play with you or another sibling.


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Wikki Stix Traveler
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Knock Knock On-The-Go Game Pad
Svance Car Activities Reusable Drawing Book


Manage Your Expectations 

Do not plan on doing anything on the flight other than giving your full attention to your kids, to ensure the experience is the best possible. Most likely, you will not be able to enjoy your vacation book or send emails for work (and, if you do, it’s a huge bonus rather than a letdown).

Snack, Snacks, and More Snacks

Pack snacks that will satisfy hunger, not hurt tummies. Bring spill-proof water bottles… just make sure they are empty while going through security and then fill up at a water fountain before boarding. Give your child something to suck or chew on while the plane is ascending and descending (e.g., pacifier/bottle if a baby; lollipop or gum if older). Your child will get to enjoy a sweet treat at the start and end of the flight... and this will also help with their ear pressure during takeoff and landing!


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THERMOS Funtainer


Prepare Your Children on What to Expect

One of the most fantastic things about the advances in technology is that the internet provides us with unending resources of video footage. For kids who will be flying for the first time (or even experienced flyers traveling to novel destinations), it can be super helpful to show videos of what they can expect to ease their potential fear (which can lead to FUSSY behavior in the moment). Look up videos of the airport you’ll be going to, virtually walk through the terminal, security, and through the gate onto the plane.

Use Road-Trip Games

Mother & daughter in airport looking outside window | Traveling with Kids for the Holidays by Parent Like a Professinal

Sure, you have bags loaded with goodies to entertain your kids once you’re seated at your gate or on the plane, but the process of actually moving from the drop off to the gate area can sometimes be a lengthy (and boring) experience for kids. As you make your way through the airport, resort to some classic road trip games to keep the little ones entertained. “I spy… something red… with wheels…” etc. Or, play 20 Questions or Airport Scavenger Hunt to help pass the time. (E.g., “Keep your eyes peeled for something healthy that will quench thirst.”)

You got this, parents!

There may be some hiccups (because what would travel or kids be without unpredictability?!), but with proper preparation and a sense of humor, it will be a fun-filled and memorable adventure for all!


Written by Monica Yenokida, M.S., B.C.B.A.

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