We're at that glorious and exciting time of the year when we pack up our families and hit the road to visit family and friends. The holidays can be a lot of fun, but for many of us, they're filled with chaos, too. There are more people on the roads and in in the airports during the month of December than the rest of the year.
Even if you're a seasoned traveler, it's easy to let anxiety get the better of you as you fight the crowds with your family in tow. Especially for those who travel with children, pre-planning how to stay sane is essential. Here are some suggestions:
Just The Facts Baby has practical, helpful advice listed on their website for parents traveling by air with young children. One of their suggestions is to make sure and book direct flights whenever possible. To me, this is the key to decreasing the stress of air travel regardless of whether or not you have children. It's not always possible, of course, but when you have the option, take it. For what you would pay for a family of four to eat at the airport during a layover, you may be able to buy the convenience of flying directly.
Babyzone has some great tips for keeping little ones busy. Young, wiggly bodies need to stay occupied during long hours on a plane or in a car, and this can be tricky. Preparation is the key. I was once on a flight with a family that didn't have a single toy, book, or video for their tired and fussy three-year-old. The flight was miserable for all of us. In the end, I dug in my own briefcase for paper and pen for the child, and it made all the difference. A little bit of thinking ahead goes a long way.
Family.com has some useful ideas about incorporating teens in the planning process to help them feel more invested in your trip. Tweens and teens have different needs than young children when traveling. Developmentally they are in a place of needing more independence and more space than the little ones. And for a step-by-step guide to traveling with teens, check out Rushelle O'Shea's comprehensive article on Associated Content. Again, thinking through what your child needs to feel engaged will help keep the chaos to a minimum.
May your month of December be full of adventure, joy, and smooth sailing.