With so many people back to traveling, I thought I’d share a few of our best tips and tricks for traveling with kids during the holiday season. If you travel a ton, you’re probably an expert on all of these already. If you’re new to traveling with kids or looking for a few new ideas to try, hopefully this is very helpful!
- Gate check the stroller. Don’t leave it at security with your other checked bags. Before you board the plane, ask the person at the desk to gate check the stroller to the final location. It will be waiting for you when you exit the plane.
- We have recently decided the added cost of buying Henry his own seat is more than worth it. He gets some room, and we all get some extra room. He’s also comfortable in his seat and this increases the chance he may take a nap during the flight.
- Bottle for Henry and something to eat or drink during takeoff and landing for Eloise. Helps them ‘pop’ their ears.
- Maybe an obvious one, but get to the airport a little early. Could be any one of many things (rental car return, TSA, lines to check in, etc) that may slow you down. We’d rather be a little early, make sure the kids eat and use the restroom, and take our time. Maybe time for a mimosa? You do not want to ‘Home Alone’ the holiday airport. If you go into this thinking “everything we are about to do is going to take longer than normal,” you’re good!
- TSA Pre-check. If you don’t have this, you should absolutely get it. It will save you time getting through security for sure. You don’t have to take off your shoes or take anything out of bags. It’s amazing!
6. Snacks and activities. Bring a big ziplock bag that has some snack options for all of your kids. This has definitely bailed us out a few times when someone becomes ‘starving’ out of nowhere. Pack your formula in a pre-portioned out container so bottles are ready quickly when needed. Buy a big bottle of water at the airport for bottles and for you! A fun/new activity or five in a backpack that your 3 year old can pick through also seems to do a great job of keeping Eloise occupied.
7. Be the last people on the plane. If you have reserved seats, and baggage that will fit under your seats (don’t need the overhead bin space), there is no reason to be first on the plane with kids. You’re just going to sit there longer. If we have a little extra baggage, we’ve been splitting up – Eloise and I will go get settled and Bryan and Henry will board later towards take off. When you book a flight and it says 2 hours, it does not account for the time spent pre and post take off. We try our best to minimize that extra time.
8. Choose your seats. Seems logical, but we’re pretty active when it comes to choosing seats on the airlines that will allow it. People cancel at the last minute and change their own seats. We love to sit right behind ‘the wall’ separating first class and coach. It means our kids aren’t kicking anyone’s chairs or making noise that’s bothering anyone in front of us. If we’re on a bigger plane, sometimes they have different configurations of seats towards the back – we just flew on a plane that had 2 rows of 2 seats in the back – was perfect for us.
9. Rental cars can be a pain for sure, but here’s our system: Get off the plane, bathroom break for all, take your time getting to baggage claim. By the time we’re there, the bags usually are too. Grab all the bags and find a spot outside for me and Henry to sit and wait with the bags that is close to the street but safe. Bryan and Eloise go get the car with a couple of easy to carry bags. They install the car seats (we bring Henry’s and rent one for Eloise) and come back and pick us up. Same for drop off – Bryan drops us off with bags at the terminal first. Trying to lug around all of these bags through a rental car center, plus on/off a bus or shuttle is more work than you need to do.
10. Screen time. I know, controversial for some, but this is more about prep than anything. Many airlines now have their own private wifi connections or apps where you have to watch their movies. A couple of suggestions: first, make sure you have movies/shows downloaded to your device pre-flight. This way you’re covered regardless. Second, do a little research into what your airline offers. We just flew United and their movie selection for Eloise was awesome. She was very happy. Another tip: Bring headphones for your kids. Depends on your flight crew and how strict they are, but for the most part they do not allow you to listen to a show out loud.
Below are some items that have helped us travel with a toddler and a baby in the last 8 months!
I hope this helps ease your mind when traveling with kids this holiday season! Just remember, you will forget something, there will probably be tears and your baby not might sleep on the flight….BUT hopefully the trip will be worth it in the end & lots of fun memories will be made! Positive thoughts!
I have a few other helpful travel posts below as well: