A few creative strategies can go pretty far in making sure the fa-la-la-la-la fun of seasonal travel avoids becoming the mournful “Are we there yet?” blues.
According to Accuweather’s Chaffin Mitchell, in “The Best and Worst Times to Travel for Christmas,” “AAA predicts that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season.” The article notes that “The 11-day span is one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year.”
In terms of air travel, Mitchell says, “The 6.7 million people who will travel by air this year is the highest level…in 15 years and is 4.2 percent more than last year.”
Travel for one or two is one thing; travel for a whole crew becomes an undertaking of a very different sort. Mary Mohler, writing for Parents in“No-Stress Holiday Travel with Kids,” suggests that parents “Don’t wait until the last minute to get your kids psyched for your holiday journey.” She adds that “If you involve them in the planning process, they’re likely to be more invested in the trip.” This might include looking for a theater near your destination or letting them pick out a book to take along.
Similarly, the Upgraded Points website offers some super ideas in“33 Best Tips for Amazing Family Travel with Your Kids (Less Stress & More Fun!).” Right upfront, they deliver a really important one: “take it slow and leave plenty of time.” The article says, “When traveling with your family, everything will take longer than you expect including checking in at the airport, getting through security, buying snacks and drinks, and boarding the plane.” It adds, “Be sure to get to the airport early and leave plenty of time for things to go wrong.”
Other tips from the same source include “don’t overpack,” “snacks, snacks, snacks,” “bring new toys and books,” and “explain the trip,” noting that “When kids are uncomfortable, they aren’t happy” and “If there are too many new things going on, kids tend to get uncomfortable.”
A mindful, philosophical idea they offer is: “Accept things will go wrong.” Whether a desired destination winds up being closed or someone leaves their phone somewhere along the way, what’s done is done. In essence, they suggest planning for the unplanned when they say, “The sooner you accept the inevitable, the less stress you will feel when it happens.”
The piece urges Mom and Dad “bring electronic devices,” noting that “Appropriate times to use electronics could be on flights, car rides, in long lines, or while waiting for performances.” They even go on to say, “Even if your home is typically electronics-free or you limit electronics, traveling is a time when you may want to let those rules slide for the kids.
A great choice for the younger crowd is the Little Scholar tablet, which prepares kids ages 3-7 for preschool through first grade. It includes 70+ preloaded educational apps (and a reporting app for parents!) and is ready to play with or without Wi-Fi.
Just in case a device loses its charge or gets accidentally packed away, consider slipping a workbook or two or a pack of flash cards into a purse or carry-on bag. For the 3+ crowd, Three-Letter Words Puzzle Cards or Memory Match Farm Card Game are winners. Older kids can make a game of practicing math skills with Math War Addition & Subtraction Game Cards and Math War Multiplication Game Cards.
The slender 32-page Jolly Try-n-Spy Holiday Activity Book is great for preschoolers, with each seasonally themed page filled with fun objects to find, cute characters, and silly rhymes. Or choose and take along one big 320-page workbook with perforated pages for on-the-fly individual worksheets to keep more than one child busy.
Pack smart, pack light, and make your family’s holiday memories be merry and bright!