Are you planning to head out of town with your kids during the holidays this year? Many families set aside time during this season to catch up with their far-flung family members. But traveling with children during the holidays can be stressful if you don’t have a solid game plan.
If you’re heading home for the holidays, tickets and reservations are just the start. The real challenge can be getting your kids safely and happily to your destination while keeping your sanity intact.
At the bökee, our focus is making life simpler for busy parents. Our products are safe for you, your littles, and the environment. If you’re traveling this holiday season, be sure to have a bökee or two with you to make your life easier.
Traveling with Children During the Holidays? You Got This!
Traveling with kids this time of year is challenging. Most of us do not have a Hallmark Channel experience, to be honest. Planning, forethought, and excellent list-making are your friends as you prepare for a trip. With these six tips, you can actually enjoy your holiday adventures.
1. Give Yourself Extra Time
If you traveled in your pre-parent life, you have an idea of how long it can take to go through airport security or to get from one plane to the next. During the busy holiday travel season, everything from parking to boarding your aircraft will take longer.
When you add children, strollers, and extra personal items, you will need a lot more time before you get to settle into your aisle seat.
Liquid breast milk is allowed through the checkpoint even if you have more than the 3.4 ounces allowed for other liquids. You will need to remove it from your carry-on and let the screener know. Sometimes, they will do further testing to check for explosives, so this is another reason to allow additional time.
Typically, they also allow juice and formula in larger quantities when you’re traveling with an infant or toddler. Again, you should take these out of your bag and inform the screener.
If your departure airport has a website, check online to see how busy they are on the day of your flight. Many airports give helpful tips, including a heads-up about security checkpoint times and road conditions near the airport.
Having time to kill at your gate because you arrive early is always less stressful than rushing through an airport. Consider how much time you think you need, and then add at least another half hour. You’ll be glad in the long run.
2. Do Not Underestimate the Power of Snacks
Keeping a regular eating schedule is the best way to have happy kiddos. But that can be difficult when you’re traveling with children during the holidays. Have plenty of snacks ready if you need to shift their eating schedule due to a change in time zone or a crazy travel day.
Consider which snacks will hold up to packing and traveling. Here are a few tried-and-true travel favorites:
- String Cheese
- Cereal or Crackers
- Granola Bars
- Single-Serving Snack Packs
Be sure to bring food that you know your child enjoys rather than trying out something new. And having snacks that your child considers a special treat can go a long way in avoiding a meltdown.
If you or your children have food allergies or restrictions, bring more snacks than you think you’ll need. It can be tricky to find suitable food choices on the road or in airports, and you don’t want to be without safe snacks for your family.
For airline travel, be sure to check updated guidelines about bringing beverages onto the plane. Sippy cups and bottles are a lifeline for parents when traveling, especially since you can help alleviate your child’s ear pain during takeoff and landing by offering a bottle. Just be sure you know the rules and plan accordingly.
3. Pack a Busy Bag
Sitting still gets boring. Kids and adults alike need a bit of entertainment to make long airport hours or car rides more fun.
Pack a variety of age-appropriate items for your youngsters, but control the access. Give them one thing at a time, and milk it as long as possible before offering a new activity. Books, quiet toys, crayons, and stickers can all hold a child’s attention in flight.
Even if you are typically a non-screen time family, you may want to consider bringing a device and headphones for your child. Music, audiobooks, and games can buy you a good stretch of peace during your trip.
Don’t forget to bring something for yourself as well. Your kids might settle down long enough for you to enjoy a book of your own. You can dream, right?
4. Bring Creature Comforts
At the top of your packing list should be your child’s favorite comfort item. Whether it’s a binky, blanket, or fluffy best friend, be sure it comes with you.
Do they have a favorite sippy cup, book, plastic dinosaur? Whatever it is, bring it.
5. Papers, Please
Adults need to show a valid ID card when they go through airport security. But what about kids?
Children under 18 do not need to show proof of ID when traveling within the US. If they are old enough to answer, the screener may ask them their age and birthdate.
If you’re traveling outside the country, your children will need passports. Be sure to apply for them at least six months before you intend to travel.
Consider carrying a copy of your child’s birth certificate to show your relationship with your child. Keep all of your passports, vaccine cards, and ticket information together for easy access.
If custody of your child is an issue, be sure to clarify what documentation you need before traveling. Sometimes, you must have a notarized authorization letter from the other parent before traveling by air with your child.
6. Safety Precautions
Traveling with kids is hectic any time of the year. But traveling with children during the holidays takes that up a notch. Despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes families become separated. To help keep everyone safe and give you some peace of mind, here are a few things to try:
- Take a cell phone photo of your child each day of your travels. If you become separated, you will have a current picture of what they are wearing to share with anyone helping you find them.
- Teach your child to sit down right where they are if they find themselves without you. Tell them that you will come to find them, rather than having them wander around to find you.
- Tuck a business card or something with your name and cell number into your child’s pocket. Periodically remind them that it is in there and that it has your information on it.
- For toddlers or children who have trouble communicating, you can write your cell number on their arm in permanent marker. This step can help someone find you if you and your child become separated.
Does My Baby Need Their Own Plane Seat?
Airplane tickets are expensive! As your family grows, you’ll probably feel the pinch of buying more seats than you did in your pre-children days.
If your child is under two years old, you probably have the option of holding them on your lap rather than purchasing a separate ticket. You can save money this way, but is it worth it?
For short flights, it might be easy enough for you to hold your baby. But this option is more challenging if you’ll be in the air for more than a couple of hours. Both you and your baby may get uncomfortable with this arrangement.
When possible, getting your child a seat of their own is a much more comfortable way to fly. Bring your infant seat and let your baby relax in their own comfortable place next to you.
Using your FAA-approved car seat is also the safest choice for your baby. Although you feel secure holding them in your arms, strong turbulence can result in your child falling and sustaining injuries. Just as in any other vehicle, a car seat is best.
Happy Trails...with the bökee!
Travel, like the rest of life, is different with children. But with a little planning (okay, a lot of planning), you can enjoy your trip.
At the bökee, we know parenting can be overwhelming as often as it can be joyful. We designed our products to work safely while simplifying your day.
Our signature bökee can suction to the airplane tray to help you with bottle prep. It also can work in your hotel room, suctioning to the counter or nightstand. It’s a lifesaver when you’re traveling with your little one. Take a look at our online store to see the bökee line of products.