The year-end holidays are among the busiest time of year for travel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. If you’re a parent, that means getting your family to leave the house in time to catch your flight is only the beginning. Enter the traffic jams on the way to the airport, long security checkpoint lines, and flights filled with crying children. Oh, and do those crying children belong to you?
Holiday travel doesn’t have to be a nightmare. To help you keep to your travel schedule with as little stress as possible, follow these six tips for planning ahead:
Create a Packing Checklist
By waiting until the last minute to pack, you could run the risk of over-packing and burdening yourself with a heavier load to carry. To avoid this, make a packing list of the travel essentials, and then customize the list for each family member. Save the packing list on your computer so that you can re-use it the next time your family travels together.
Ship Gifts Directly to Recipients, When It Makes Sense
If you’re traveling to another state, consider purchasing gifts online and having them shipped directly to the recipient’s house, rather than taking them with you on the flight. This also may help you to save money, especially if you select gifts that include free shipping or if the gifts could cause you to incur airline over-weight luggage costs.
Delegate Tasks to Other Family Members
If your children are at least eight years of age, allow them to pack their own bags. Ask them to pack liquids, such as travel-sized contact solution or mouthwash, in a separate, clear plastic, zip-locked bag and then place the bag at the top of their luggage contents, so that it’s easy to remove during security checks. Additionally, ask your spouse or partner to check everyone in for the flight and print the boarding passes. You can always double-check everything before you leave, to play it safe.
Overestimate Your Travel Time
Traffic can be unpredictable, especially during the holidays. You can check various maps and traffic reports online – for example, download Google Maps app to and from airports to determine how long it will take for you to get to the airport. Such maps and traffic reports can also alert you to major accidents and provide you with alternative routes for navigating around them.
Take Along Activities for the Flight
An occupied child is a happy child. Consider packing activity books and pencils, coloring books and crayons, stencils and colored pencils, playing cards, action figures, magnetic drawing toys, or illustrated children’s books to keep busy on long flights. Some companies also offer free printable winter-themed coloring pages and Christmas or Chanukah bingo boards.
Give Your Family Time to Settle In
Holiday stress often builds by having to rush from one place to the next, with little downtime to relax. If your hosts plan to have everyone decorate the tree, or exchange gifts, or gather for a big family dinner, ask them if they would mind waiting to do so until the day after your family arrives. That way, if your flight is delayed, you won’t have to worry about being rushed or missing out on any of the action.
Do you have tips of your own for traveling with children during the holidays? Share them with us on Facebook. Happy Holidays!