How to Survive Family Travel This Holiday Season

The holidays are just around the corner! If you have kids and are traveling to visit family or take a vacation, you’re probably already thinking about the journey ahead. The idea of traveling with children can be daunting, but the actual experience doesn’t have to be so bad. We’ll admit that it takes some thoughtfulness and preparation, but we promise it’ll be well worth it when you’re in transit!

Here’s our advice for traveling with your family this holiday season:


Extra time is key

There is nothing worse than trying to get through the airport with kids–especially when you’re in a rush. From security lines, to bathroom breaks, to stops to tie shoes, and so much more, when you’re in a hurry to get to your gate, every detour becomes so much more stressful. You can easily avoid that by just planning to give your family some extra time between your arrival at the airport and your plane’s departure. When they say an hour is enough, they’re talking about adults. Give yourself at least two hours before a domestic flight or three when traveling internationally with your crew of little ones, especially during the holiday season.


Prepare for the time change

You know how jet lag can throw even the most stable, rational adult off balance? Now imagine what it might do to a child. Jet lag is often hard on children, especially those who are still napping on a specific schedule. To help them adjust when you get to your destination, do your best to stay outside in the sunlight during the day to encourage them to stay awake. This will help their bodies and brains adjust to their temporary new vacation schedule.

On the flipside, at night, make sure it’s dark where you and your family are sleeping. Get ready for the fact that your child will likely wake up once or twice during the night—they’re just adjusting and it’s totally out of their control. While you’ll likely want to adjust your child’s sleep schedule, don’t do the same for food. While we’re not encouraging you to have a full meal in the middle of the night, keep snacks on hand in case he or she is hungry at what would be a regular meal time at home.

Pro-tip: If you’re only traveling a time zone or two away, you might even consider keeping your kids on their regular schedule to avoid the jet lag issue in both directions.


Book ahead to get seats together

The way airlines operate these days, you and your family aren’t guaranteed seats together just because you book together. The good news is, you can find options that will ensure you sit together, which is important when you have young children. You can either pay extra to select your own seats, or ask the gate agent to help you out when you get to your gate. If you’d rather have it figured out ahead of time without paying large extra fees, try Southwest. On this airline, you choose your own seats once you’re on board, and you can board with your family to guarantee you will sit together. Just be sure to check in right at the 24-hour mark before departure, so you can secure a good spot in the boarding line. 


Pack your carry-on wisely

When you’re packing your carry-on for an adventure or holiday vacation with the whole family, you’ll want to think about it in several different ways: what will keep your kids happy and occupied, what will keep your them cared for and the surrounding areas clean, and what will keep you entertained in those rare moments of downtime? Here’s what to prepare for when traveling with a newborn.

Let’s break it down:

    • Kids:
        • Handheld games (and headphones!)
        • Puzzle books
        • Coloring books and colored pencils or crayons. Avoid markers—trust us on this one!
        • Snacks–and we mean lots of them. You can almost never have too many, but it’s very easy to have too few.
        • Stuffed animals—but don’t bring any favorites on board if you can help it—they’re too precious to potentially lose!
      • Empty water bottles that you can take through security and fill on the other side
    • Care & cleanliness:
        • Wet wipes
        • Hand sanitizer
        • Medications
        • Band-Aids
        • A blanket (airplanes can get cold)
      • Gum or candy to help when their ears pop during landing and takeoff (if they’re old enough)
  • Yourself:
      • Don’t forget about yourself! This one is really whatever you’re into—books, magazines, headphones to watch downloaded movies or listen to music.
    • This will vary depending on your interests as well as in the ages of your kids and how much of your attention they’ll need.

We haven’t talked much about the pre-flight planning process during the busy holiday season, but another one of our posts covers helpful tips on booking flights, packing, and travel planning for the holidays.


Buy Travel Insurance

Weather can certainly be unpredictable around the holidays and when your flight is cancelled due to extreme weather conditions during holiday season, ensure your children won’t be sleeping at the airport on Christmas Eve. Most comprehensive travel insurance policies include coverage for Travel Delay which covers the cost of accommodations, local transportation, and meals when your flight is delayed 6-24 hours. To get a quote for family travel insurance plan, click here.

Do you have any pro tips for parents traveling with their kids this holiday season? Share the wealth! We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@insureyonder).

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