The holiday travel season is here, and millions of Americans are hitting the roads and the skies in droves to reach their final destination.
According to AAA, over 55 million Americans travel 50 miles or more over Thanksgiving, and PricewaterhouseCoopers notes that nearly half of the country travels between Thanksgiving and mid-January.
Travel brings its stressors any time of year, but the holidays have unique high-octane anxieties. Add young kids who are less experienced travelers, and there is the potential for meltdowns, fights, and tears. However, a few simple tips and tricks can make traveling with kids a seamless experience. Travel experts with children of their own and those well-versed in family destinations have plenty of hacks to offer to make holiday travel as smooth as possible this year.
As parents will attest, there is more to flying with kids than meets the eye. Unlike adults, who are often more experienced flyers and can anticipate delays or potential hiccups, children need gentle hand-holding — both literally and figuratively — when traveling. Whether it’s nerves or the constant stimulation, flying with kids adds a challenging layer to any trip. Still, the experts say it doesn’t have to be that complicated. One of the quickest ways to make the travel experience more manageable for the entire family is to pack light.
Checking luggage for a hands-free travel experience may be tempting. But the benefits of sticking with carry-on luggage go beyond saving on those pesky checked bag fees. Monica Fish, founder of Planner at Heart, shares how her family has converted to the carry-on-only lifestyle. “We’ve stopped checking in luggage because there is nothing worse than getting to your destination and not having your kids’ things because the airlines lost your luggage for days on end,” she says.
Fish also notes that traveling with a carry-on bag makes everything easier when dealing with winter weather, which often involves flight delays or cancellations. Fish recommends services like Amazon Locker or Target Delivery if families travel over the holiday and must transport gifts.
Delivery services also come in handy when minimizing the amount of snacks brought on vacation. Kimberly Fidler, VP of Marketing for Get Away Today, says that her family will “use Instacart to have groceries, snacks for the trip, and other necessities delivered to our hotel room. That saves packing space and is really convenient once we’re on vacation.”
Embrace Snacks And Screens
Some parents refrain from handing out too many snacks or immediately turning to tablets and smartphones as distractions for the kids when traveling. On the contrary, experts advise parents to lean into these as tools to help keep kids occupied and comfortable. The key is to load up healthier snack options that keep kids full while on the go.
Alex Caspero, Registered Dietitian at Delish Knowledge, recommends snacks high in fiber and protein. Her go-to options are “date-sweetened bars, popcorn (for older kids), cheese and whole-grain crackers, applesauce pouches, and trail mix.” Regarding how many snacks to bring, Caspero notes, “My advice as both a mom and a dietitian is to pack more snacks than you think you’ll need.”
Families with tablets or smartphones can download everyone’s favorite shows or movies on the flight or even when waiting at the airport. Caspero adds, “Screens make it easier for everyone — especially on long flights or delays.” Parents are more likely to be patient when there’s a flight delay than a young child, so having those distractions ready is vital to keeping everyone happy.
One of the most valuable tips experts emphasize when traveling with kids during the holidays is not any single gadget or packing hack. It’s the simple tip of practicing patience and managing expectations before the trip. Anticipating crowds at airports and on the roads will help thwart rude awakenings when families are in the thick of travel. Sarah Gilliland, travel editor and writer at On The Road With Sarah, warns parents to “Temper expectations while traveling during the holidays. Airports and roads are busy. Being kind to your fellow travelers and airline employees goes a long way to making your travels better.”
In addition to packing the right mindset, remembering a few easy tricks before leaving home will prevent multiple headaches. Gilliland adds, “Make sure devices are charged, content is downloaded, and snacks are packed. Never assume the plane Wi-Fi will be working, and come prepared!”
Thinking outside the box will also give families more flexibility in their travels this holiday season. Theme park journalist Megan duBois recommends travelers consider alternative modes of transportation, especially if time allows. She notes, “If you can drive, I would suggest doing so to get to your destination. Not only are you in your own space in a car, but you can stop when you want and bring all of the snacks and food you want for hungry kids or adults.”
As always, arriving at the airport with plenty of time and choosing the earliest flight possible are tried-and-true tips for a more effortless travel experience, especially when the entire family is in tow.
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Carly Neil | Wealth of Geeks undefined