6 Stress-Free Tips for Holiday Travel With the Kids

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The holidays are a wonderful time to be with family. But let's face it, traveling with children can be a chore. Here's how to de-stress.

If you’ve ever traveled in December, you know everyone is stressed out: From airline employees working overtime to travelers not arriving on time, it’s certainly not the most enjoyable time of the year.

Traveling with kids can make it even more stressful. So hotels.com blogger Nicole Hockin has come up with some some tips for families to help ease the journey for parents and offspring alike.

“Remember, if you are traveling with kids – embrace it!” Hockin says. “Travel is an amazing gift for a child. Even if it’s a quick flight to grandma’s house, take the time to make it a fun family adventure.”

Here’s her specific advice …

  1. Let the kids pick the restaurant: No matter how young the kids are, let each member of the family make a trip decision. Parents can provide options for the kids to choose from, but this allows the entire family to have an opinion on the trip’s activities.
  2. Don’t forget the details: As easy as it is to become swept away by merry excitement, it is important to research the little things prior to departure. Check the weather, airline advisories, the TSA website and for overseas trips – the embassy. This allows travelers to be prepared in advance for any situation that might strike.
  3. There’s no place like home: A string or two of lights, a menorah, some tinseled garland and maybe even a little tree can morph a sterile hotel room into a home away from home. Pack decorations in your suitcase or ship pre-trip. Stockings and ornaments to hang, that favorite classic movie, and cookies from Santa might just be the extra touch the room needs to ring in the holidays with decorative style.
  4. Detailed hotel search: Want to bring Fido along for the family holiday? The hotels.com website – as well as others – allows users to search based on price, pet-friendliness, amenities, and proximity to local events/attractions, among other distinct details.
  5. Peak travel means airline fees: Holiday surcharges range from $10 to $30 each way for travel on peak travel days, especially if the trip has not been booked yet. Beware of luggage fees and bag restrictions. Different airlines have different rules in terms of how many bags are allowed and how much they will charge.
  6. Expect the unexpected: Whether you are driving or flying during the holidays, you want to keep a few things handy as unexpected weather, events, and more travelers on the roads can sometimes wreak havoc with timetables. Extra diapers, baby wipes (which have a thousand uses), any necessary medicines for adults and children, change of clothes, snacks, phone and MP3 chargers, and surprise goodies such as activity books or cards when the “are we there yet?” starts, are all things that should be packed in a carry-on, not in a suitcase.

Finally, here’s one big tip not on the list above that Hockin can’t stress enough: “If you are flying to your destination, do NOT put wrapped gifts in your carry-on luggage. You run the risk of having them unwrapped at the TSA checkpoint. Wrap them at your destination or have them shipped.”

Stacy Johnson

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