5 Survival Tips for Holiday Travel
Holidays can be lots of fun. What’s not to like? It’s a break from the routine, wonderful music, good company, and lots of yummy food. However, it also means being in a confined space with young children for hours on end, also known as traveling. Before kids, traveling may have been part of the fun for you. You looked forward to catching up on the latest blockbuster hits or got lost in a good book while someone else got you to your destination. But now, traveling with young kids looks a lot different. What once was a peaceful, restful endeavor is now a loud, messy scream fest! Hopefully, my 4 survival tips for holiday travel will help make your holiday travel time as festive and enjoyable as possible.
Don’t concern yourself with what others may be thinking
This one is FAR easier said than done. When your 3-year-old is kicking, crying, and screaming at the top of her lungs because you packed her pink sippy cup instead of her purple one (Oh the horror!) it’s only natural that you would feel embarrassed as dozens of eyes are now watching your every move. It can be very, very tempting to give in to your child’s demands so they stop throwing a temper tantrum, however, that can set a dangerous precedent, i.e. “If I tantrum when I don’t get what I want, mom will eventually give me what I want.” The best thing to do is to stick to your guns and in a short time, your child will stop the shenanigans and strangers will find another source of entertainment. It can feel uncomfortable to have all those eyes on you but it’s important to remember that a large percentage of people are staring and thinking “Oh that poor mom. She is dealing with a tough situation and I wish I could help somehow.” So in conclusion, just do the best you can while focusing on your family and ignoring pesky stares from strangers.
Stick to the schedule
Children thrive on a routine. Adults do too. Do your best to keep your daily routine in place during travel days. If you normally eat lunch at noon then schedule your flight so that you will land at 11:30 and grab lunch at the airport. If baby naps at 10, do your best to implement his/her nap time routine and settle him to sleep at 10 even If it means he naps on your chest or with his pacifier. A nap with assistance is still far better than no nap at all. Do your best to stick to the schedule. It may not work perfectly but a schedule that is a little bit off is far better than no schedule at all. Just be sure that you have your baby nap without your assistance or pacifier just as soon as you can so you don’t create any habits that will be tough to break later on.
Make a plan. And while you’re at it, make a backup plan!
My inner control freak needs a plan as well as 1-2 contingency plans every time we travel. It might feel obnoxious and over the top but knowing what is coming next can relieve a lot of mental energy that would normally be spent worrying “What if things don’t go as planned?” The plan could be you arrive at grandma’s for dinner by 5 pm, but if your flight gets delayed and you can’t make it to grandma’s until 6:30 then everyone has a hearty snack to hold them over.
Often times our first instinct is usually not the most helpful way to respond in a high-stress situation. For example, if you realize that you forgot your child’s oh so coveted pink teddy bear that she chewed on so much that its ear is hanging on by a thread, and she is now yelling, screaming, and crying during hour 1 of your 5-hour road trip your natural instinct is to panic and worry and stress and maybe even turn back around to get the darn thing. However, it is almost always better to remain calm when faced with a high-stress situation as a panicked reaction will only add to the drama. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that the situation is not life and death (your child will survive without her teddy even though she thinks she won’t), and comfort your little one.
Keep the kids BUSY!
Travel can be a challenge for everyone but especially for kids. They have a nearly endless amount of energy and not much opportunity to get it out as they are strapped in a car seat for much of the time. Schedule breaks where they can just run or jump. Give them toys and snacks in the car. Sing songs. Do anything you can to make it a fun experience where their brains are stimulated and their bodies have a chance to move.
Try not to beat yourself up if things don’t go perfectly. You are only human after all. Travel can bring about extenuating circumstances beyond your control. The good thing is that once you are back home you will have plenty of time to get your child’s schedule and their sleep back on track so enjoy holiday travel time as much as you can. Happy travels to you and yours!
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