10 Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids


by Dawnn Whittaker

The Holidays are here and it is by far one of my favourite times of the year. Family gatherings and excitement are everywhere. With all that excitement and buzz, we often have parents asking us “how to manage their children’s routines during the holidays” (especially when travelling).

Travelling with Children can be tricky and can feel overwhelming.

The thought of sitting on a plane or in a car for hours with children can have any parent running for the door.

Feeding Before Takeoff and Landing

If you are travelling by plane with a baby this holiday season try nursing or bottle feeding right before take off and landing. Often airlines require that you hold your baby upright during take-off and landing but nursing or bottle feeding right before and after can help with their ears and offer comfort.

Consider Times When Planning Departures

When it comes to sleep and routine always try to book your flight or plan your car ride right before nap time. This can help make a long flight or car ride go more smoothly.

Older Kids Need Fun Distractions

For older children, pack a bag filled with special treats and quiet activities for the road or the plane ride. I find that stickers are great, as well as books, and water colour markers (felts) to minimise mess. If there are a few treats or snacks that your children will enjoy, don’t be afraid to use them as an incentive for good behaviour and quiet play while travelling.

Devices Can Be a Lifesaver

If you normally minimize screen time, travelling may be a time where you consider using it as a special treat. There are plenty of educational games for kids and toddlers these days that can help make a long plane ride or car ride go more smoothly. Decide on what you are going to allow ahead of time. Perhaps there is a special holiday movie that your older child is constantly asking to watch? Tie your older children into the discussion and set the rules ahead of time. Stress that this is a special occasion and that you expect appropriate and responsible behaviour in return.

Set Realistic Expectations

When it comes to routine and the holidays, the most important thing to do is set realistic expectations of what the holidays will look like. Spend some time before travelling or the arrival of family members to look at what activities and gatherings you have planned and when. Is there a night when you know you will be out far later than usual? Plan for it and keep it in perspective when looking at your holiday as a whole.

Be Prepared for Late Nights

If you know that your child will be out very late one night, consider bringing pyjamas and getting them ready for bed before the car ride home. If you have a small baby, don’t hesitate to put them down in a quite room around their normal bedtime. Know that this one evening may not result in the smoothest transition home but keeping it in perspective will allow you to feel more relaxed about it.

Naps & Routines

During the holidays, parents often tell us that they are concerned that routine will go out the window. If you have a strong routine, there is no reason that you cannot maintain this during the holidays. This does not mean that you need to rush home to get your child to bed at exactly 6:35pm every night. The most important thing to do is to keep the steps of the routine in place. Look at the week ahead of time and adjust accordingly. If your child goes to bed at 7pm. It may be 6:45 the day after a late night out or 7:30pm one busy evening. Follow your child’s cues. If they are unruly, let them have a nap earlier than usual or put them to bed earlier one evening.

Be Flexible

The holidays can be chaotic at times. Allowing yourself some flexibility in your routine’s timing will not result in your child suddenly forgetting how to sleep. Do your best to maintain a similar routine to the one you have at home but allow yourself a little forgiveness if it doesn’t always go as planned.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun 

The stress of having to keep a routine and consistent bedtime can sometimes result in unnecessary stress during the holiday season. Our tip this holiday season is to go into it knowing that you have a good routine in place and that the purpose of the holiday season is to have fun.

Plan a Datenight

If you are travelling somewhere with family or having family come to town, consider planning a date night with your partner. In my experience, relatives love one on one time with their grandchildren/nieces and nephews. This is a great opportunity to give yourself a night off and make a grandparent happy.

Rent an apartment instead of a hotel

The most crucial tip for holiday travel with kids often revolves around the choice of accommodations. Opting for a rental property can significantly enhance the family travel experience. Unlike cramped hotel rooms, rentals provide more space for kids to move around comfortably, and often include amenities like kitchens and separate bedrooms. This allows for a more flexible and relaxed environment, helping parents maintain routines and create a home-like atmosphere. Rentals can also be equipped with child-friendly features, such as cribs and high chairs, making packing less cumbersome. Additionally, having a kitchen enables families to prepare familiar meals, catering to picky eaters and ensuring a smoother dining experience. Choosing a rental not only offers practical advantages but also contributes to a more memorable and enjoyable holiday for both parents and kids alike.

For more travel tips go watch our most recent video blog post. Relax, set realistic expectations, keep perspective, and have a great Holiday!

Dawnn Whittaker was born in Nottingham England and is the founder of Cheekychops. As a former nanny, night-nanny and troubleshooting nanny, she has a wide range of experience in all child rearing related issues as well as having a birds-eye view of the difference from working with other people’s children to her own. Over the last 8 years, she has supported thousands of families to achieve confidence in their parenting and has a no-nonsense nonjudgmental approach.

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