If you’re headed out of town over the holidays, prepare for your trip by making it easier on your kids and on yourself with our helpful tips. Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, these tips will keep your family safe and will allow for smooth travel.

By Car:

family road trip

Consider safety. Before taking a long road trip, especially in chilly temperatures or precipitation, bring your car in for a quick inspection, asking your mechanic to check the antifreeze, brakes, ad tires. Gather emergency items in a kit in your trunk, such as a small snow shovel, blankets, a flashlight, and bottled water.

Beat the rush. Take a look at a map and consider where each large city is located along your route. It makes sense to leave at a time that will enable you to miss rush hour in urban areas along the way, so that you don’t get stuck in unnecessary traffic.

Factor in breaks. Every two hours, hit a rest stop to let your kids stretch, walk around, and get some fresh air. While adults often like to power through long road trips, a drive without breaks is practically asking for a meltdown. And I don’t think we need to remind you that small bladders need frequent bathroom breaks.

Remember to bring entertainment. Pack a bag, with your children’s input, of toys, games, and maybe even a surprise or two they’ve never seen before. Make sure you bring any loveys or blankets, and consider downloading some kids’ stories in podcast form, or a children’s audiobook or two.

By plane:

Figure out your luggage allotment. Look at the airline’s website to determine how many bags you may carry on and check per person. If you’re carrying gifts with you, the baggage fees can add up, so check weight restrictions. You may want to consider shipping gifts beforehand to cut down on fees and cumbersome duffel bags!

Research what is allowed in your carry-on and what is not. For infants, breastmilk and formula is permitted, but be prepared to be pulled aside so that containers can be reviewed by the TSA. As kids get older, security gets less forgiving. Pouches of pureed fruit are a no-no, as are juice boxes. You’re better off buying older kids their beverages after you get through security. 

young child in airportKeep them entertained. If there is ever a time to let go of your family’s screen time restrictions, it’s on an airplane. Bring plenty of snacks and let your kids play games and watch PBS Kids. Download their favorite movies and consider buying a pair of headphones that has been proven to be safe for children’s ears.

Fly safely. If you have an infant, bring your infant car seat with you on the plane. It’s safer for your baby and will help him fall asleep more easily. For older children, the CARES harness can help to increase kids’ safety on the plane, and also makes them feel, psychologicially, like they are strapped into a seat and will make them less likely to climb, wiggle, and escape.

What are your tried and true travel tips? Let us know in the comments section!