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My family lives all over the United States. I grew up in a pastor’s home, so we moved frequently as my dad took on new callings and as my siblings and I grew older, we started to stay behind in different locations. My husband’s family lives in completely different locations from any of my family, so there aren’t too many holidays that we aren’t travelling with our kids.
Travel with kids is not exactly a walk in the park- there are so many factors contributing to the perfect storm to potentially frustrate everyone. After years of family travel growing up and now a seasoned travel-mom myself, I’ve learned some great tips for holiday travel to help avoid stress during a time that should be joyous and celebrated. These tips help to keep everyone happier and help me feel at home in places I’ve never lived.
1. Be Flexible
I can’t stress this enough. Planning is very important, but things don’t always go as planned. Go with the flow and welcome the unplanned surprises. Also, remember that Grandma and Grandpa will do things a little different than you and your kids do at your house. Let it go.
2. Warn Everyone Ahead Of Time
Your kids are staying in a home other than their own with a schedule, bed and food that are all different. Just give everyone a heads up that your kiddos will probably have a few more tantrums than usual and try if you can to keep their nap schedules and meal times as close to normal as possible. Those simple tips will help your kid to feel comfortable and those around them to remember that they might be a little cranky.
3. Bring Favorite Toys As Well As New Toys
Bring toys from home that will bring your kids comfort and keep them busy for those times you might need to cook or want to spend time with your siblings reminiscing. When those toys seem to lose their luster, bring out a new toy! I like to go to the dollar aisle in the weeks before a trip and pick up some fun novelty toys for the kid.
4. Simple Isn’t Always the Best Way
Sure, a direct flight may seem like the best idea-no on and off the plane, no finding a new departure gate and no dealing with yet another crowded airport. After flying with my kids all over the country, I’ve found that a direct flight is only a better choice if it’s 3 hours or less. The novelty of flying in an airplane wears off around hour 1 and you’re left with kids who are screaming and tired. Choose a flight with a layover and you can let the kids run, go to the bathroom and even pick up food other than peanuts and pretzels. This same tip works for driving as well. Make frequent stops and let the kids get their crazies out.
5. Include the kids
Let the kids help to plan out your trip. They’ll be more engaged and enjoy their time when they had a hand in choosing activities or outings. I don’t know about you, but I tend to get with my siblings and get caught up in catching up, teasing each other and talking about past family moments. I love to have my siblings tell old stories of me to my kids! They get a kick out of hearing about me as a child and it brings us all a little closer!
With all of these tips, our holiday travel is less stressful and so much more enjoyable! No matter how close or far away your family and “home” are, you can find your way there feeling a little more at ease.
In Finding Dory, both Dory and Marlin learn quite a bit about being flexible! Things never seem to go as planned for those two. Marlin in particular has a hard time dealing with the changes. Only when he includes his own son Nemo in the planning does he find the inspiration he needs to help save the day. Nemo simply reminds Marlin of Dory’s positive attitude and way of diving into life, and that gives Marlin the idea he needs to help himself, his son and ultimately, Dory.