Holiday Travel with Kids: Make the most of the season

Planning a getaway before the end of the year? You’re not alone. One hundred million Americans will travel over the holidays!

While this is the season to give thanks and rejoice, it’s also the season of overcrowded airports and highways. Holiday travel can be stressful – and this is especially true if you are traveling with kids!

Penguino is here to make your journey more peaceful and joyous. Here are ten simple steps to stay calm – and have fun – this season.

1. Get an early start.

Do as much as you can ahead of time. Get organized. Simply writing down your packing and to-do list now can save stress later! Order gifts online and have them delivered to your destination. To skip the last minute trip to the store to buy coloring books, travel games and snacks, order personalized Penguino Travel Boxes for your kids.

2. Book flights early in the day.

If you will be flying to your destination, book flights in the morning. Early in the day, airports are less crowded and if your flight is canceled, it will be easier to get another flight. Plus, kids do best on airplanes when they are not overtired!

3. Plan to drive when kids are tired.

If you’re headed on a road trip, try to do most of your driving when the kids are sleepy. Put the kids in pajamas and leave late in the day. Drive for a couple of hours, stop for dinner, then settle everyone in for sleep. Most kids are lulled by the darkness and the hum of a car. Plan to drive until midnight or 2 a.m. and then carry kids into a hotel room. If your little ones still nap, you can plan to drive during nap time too.

4. Be ready for the unexpected.

Busy airports, winter weather, and overbooked flights can disrupt even the most organized traveler’s plans! If you are flying, sign up to get alerts by email or text if your flight is canceled or delayed. Stash a pair of pajamas and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag in case luggage gets lost. It’s a great idea to put an extra cell phone battery and charger in your bag, too.

Especially when driving in winter weather, be prepared. Stash blankets, food and water, and a first-aid kit in the trunk. Know what you would do in case of a breakdown or emergency.

5. Pack a backpack for each child.

Bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, doll or toy. If your child will need to sleep on the journey, a soft, familiar blanket can help your little one settle down. To keep boredom at bay, fill their backpack with a few new toys, coloring books, activities or games.

Penguino Travel Boxes make this easy! Simply put everything in your child’s personalized box in their backpack. Add a cozy blanket and a favorite book and you’re good to go.

6. Don’t forget to bring food and drinks.

Kids need to eat more often than grown-ups. Bring along a supply of healthy snacks and treats. If you’re traveling by car, bring along water bottles and juice boxes. If you’re flying, bring an empty water bottle to fill up after you go through security. You’ll save both time and money – and keep your kids from feeling hangry!

7. Everything takes longer with kids, so give yourself plenty of time.

If you are driving, you will need to stop every two to three hours. Plan to stop for at least 20 minutes. Look for fun stops along your journey. These stops are a chance to discover something new or show your kids a favorite from your childhood. At every stop, have a snack, play outside and visit the bathroom (twice!). If you need to drive for six or more hours, plan a longer stop near the halfway mark.

If you are flying or taking the train, plan ahead so you do not have to rush through the airport or station. Give your kids time to explore – and to get their wiggles out.

8. Be kind to your body.

Both before and during your trip, take care of yourself. When you calm and your body is well rested and nourished, it’s much easier to be there for your child. Avoid having too much coffee. Drink plenty of water and eat wholesome food, even on the road. Don’t go overboard with cocktails on the airplane. Take time every few hours to stretch and walk. You will feel far better when you reach your destination if you take care of yourself along the way.

9. It’s all about balance.

Engage with your kids. Kids enjoy travel more when adults talk and play with them. Sing along to some festive music or read a book out loud. Play a card game together or ask creative questions. Make up a story – or learn something new. Be present and calm.

Be smart with screen time. While playing games or watching movies can keep kids entertained for hours, constant distraction means kids miss out on other things. Put limits on screen time so kids can unplug and play. At the same time, don’t feel guilty about using screen time to give yourself a break! Read a magazine, listen to music, or talk to your partner.

If you are traveling with your spouse or partner, take turns engaging with kids or driving so you can both rest.

10. Embrace the life stage you are in.

Before you know it, your two-year-old will be potty trained. Your four-year-old will know how to read. Your six-year-old will be able to carry her own suitcase. Your eight-year-old will spend trips plugged into his iPhone and will not be the least bit interested in talking to you.

Travel will get easier as your children grow up, but don’t miss the sweet season of introducing your little ones to the world.

The season of parenting little children goes by very, very fast. For a few short years, traveling well means accommodating children’s needs and making family memories. Family travel is an opportunity to build a foundation of love and togetherness. By slowing down and seeing things from your child’s perspective, you can nurture her sense of wonder.

Soon enough everyone will be ready for bigger adventures together!