As a nanny, I was fortunate to be able to travel on a lot of pretty amazing trips! Of course with a slew of kids in tow! Today I wanted to share my very best tips and tricks to make holiday traveling with the kids faster,easier and more enjoyable.
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The airports during the holidays are CRAZY! Like seriously it is so busy and chaotic and almost everyone is in a hurry. As an adult, it is quite a process in itself and then when you add unpredictable little people into the mix and were talking full on “cray cray!”
Don’t worry I have figured out some pretty fantastic tips to make things go smoother for your family!
Things to do before you travel…
- Ship gifts directly – If you will be bringing gifts on this trip, try your very best not to pack them! Have them shipped directly and ask family to wrap them or have the gift wrapped or wrap them when you get there! You will have plenty to worry about without adding extra stress to carrying/checking more items. Use AmazonPrime(you can try it for 30 days free!) for 2-day shipping or fill a box and ship it. Most likely you will pay a bag fee to check them anyways so just cut your losses and pay to ship them.
- Pack a week in advance – A week might seem like overkill but I promise it is not when you realize you need to wash things, try things on(kids outgrow things SO fast!), pick up items from the store, charge or replace batteries. You will be very happy when your not running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to get everything ready last minute.
- Get the right travel gear – If you have little ones consider getting a lightweight stroller that is compact and has a shoulder strap! Also, don’t forget your Ergobaby carrier! So great for babies and small toddlers…they are safe, stuck(can’t run away), can sleep on you, and you can nurse discreetly this way too! For bigger kids who will be walking backpacks are a must-have! I like the ones with wheels that way they have the option to carry or roll!
- Pack AMAZING carry on bags – Keeping kiddos entertained on the plane is a fine art! This is one of the very few times I am all for screen time and packaged snacks(those don’t exist too much in our regular life). Take a tablet with learning games or favorite shows and movies and some super special snacks you don’t usually get to have at home. Grab some cool new coloring packs, little action figure, travel games and whatever else you know your little one is crazy about right now! It can be hard for little ones to sleep on a plane so you need to be prepared if they don’t. This needs to be pretty amazing and needs to last the duration of the plane ride. I like to have a few items tucked away for the ride home too. (Remember that most liquids can’t be carried on with you)
- Pack a well equipped carry on for yourself – This needs to have extra everything, clothes, batteries, toys, snacks, first aid items, sanitizer (if you have little ones you have to try these safe for babies sanitizing wipes! AMAZING PRODUCT we have survived the airport germs with no sicknesses thanks to these babies!). All relevant travel stuff..wallet, passports, phone, tablet, chargers.
- Consider getting your family TSA Pre-Checked – If you travel often this is a must! You have to fill out an application, go to an in-person interview and pay a few but the shorter security lines and less hassle that come with it are a great option! Kids 12 and under don’t need to do anything but travel with you. 13 and older need to go through the same application process as you.
The night before you travel…
- Pick out everyone’s outfit for the next day – Dress your family in comfortable clothes that are the same color and bright! This is a huge tip for families! It is much easier to look for your child and hubby when you know what color to look for and vice versa(remind your child of this color and your first name before your travel, that way you will be easier to find just in case). Make sure shoes are easy to take on and off. If your little one recently potty trained I recommend a pull up just for the flight as a precaution. Sometimes they forget to go or get nervous about the plane bathrooms.
- Check in online – This will ensure your family assigned seats together unless they are already predetermined. Also, you will have your boarding passes on your phone ready to go for the next day. One less step to do when you get to the airport!
- Email all travel reservations – Email yourself and your husband your travel information. Hotel, Parking, Rental Car, Flights, Shuttles. That way either one of you can manage the kids while the other deals with the travel details. Also, paper copies can get lost so email is the way to go!
- Have a shuttle or car pick you up/ Have someone do drop off if you are parking – It is much easier to have a car or shuttle take you to the airport that way you are just dropped off end of story. Sometimes it is a cheaper option to park, however. If you are parking I suggest someone does drop off at the terminal with all the kids and luggage and the other person goes to park the car. It is a lot more work trying to get a family from parking(often including a shuttle ride) to the terminal and all the baggage. Streamline the process and one of you can check the bags curbside as you drop off or take them in to check them while the other parks. Don’t forget to check your car seat if you will need it on the other side. It is free for most airlines and they can give you a bag when you get there or you can have you’re awesome easier to manage one ready to go.
- Security Checkpoint – Once your family is all together head for the security line or if you know it will be a long wait get in line right away and direct the parking person to meet you there. If you have certain credit cards there are fast security lines to take advantage of(they also have AMAZING lounges too). Or if you decided to TSA Pre-Check then you can use that special line now too. If not then while you are in line get the kids prepped. Shoes and coats off if you need to(depends on where you are). Liquids and laptops ready to be easily removed. Also, a good time to tell the kids what to expect from security procedures so they don’t get scared. This is when that lightweight stroller can really come in handy…easy to fold light and fits well through security.
- Find your gate and wear out your kiddos – Now is a good time to grab some food, use the bathroom and then use it again, and run off some energy. Don’t let them get into their special carry on until your on the plane. You will be sitting for a long amount of time so let them watch the planes, run off some energy at an empty gate nearby, play at the indoor playground if they have one. Play I-Spy, pretend or people watch. Just keep busy until it is time to board. Oh yes and don’t forget a gate check tag for that stroller! Just ask for one at the desk at the gate.
- Boarding time – This can go 2 different ways. Pre-boarding for families is a good option if you need time to get your kids in and settled. If you have just one little one I recommend waiting until everyone is on board and then boarding. This means less confined sitting time and gives you the freedom to move about easily for as long as possible. This choice will just depend on what you think is right for your kiddos.
- On the plane – Distract with the window, a hand game or a snack until your up in the air. Then get out those amazing carry-ons! Keep them busy as long as possible! If you think they will nap then, by all means, get them comfy and to sleep! I don’t let kiddos get out of their seats unless they actually have to use the bathroom. They will get out of hand or not want to sit back down so if you don’t offer that freedom there is nothing to take away. Ask the sweet flight attendants for some wings, stickers or any extra supplies you can make a game out of(cups,straws, and napkins can make a cool tent for action figures!Be creative!).
When you land make sure you get everything packed back up. Sanitize your hands and the kid’s hands as much as humanly possible! Sick kids are not fun and even more not fun at someone else’s house. Clean their toys when you get where you are going too! Don’t forget to grab your stroller on the gateway!
Enjoy the holidays with family and friends!
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you travel more smoothly! Just remember that when you get there you will have extra help with the kids from family and friends! Enjoy your trip and make some great memories!
It takes a village! Please share your awesome tips and tricks for flying with kiddos! Also tell us how your travels went?