Surviving Holiday Travel with Kids

By Tracey Black, REDBOOK


Soon my kids will be out of school on holiday break, and like many other families, we'll be traveling to see our extended family. Unlike other families; however, we'll be traveling to Hawaii, where both my husband and I are from. I wouldn't normally be intimidated about traveling with my kids-especially to Hawaii, since we've made the trek several times before-but this time it's different.

First of all, it'll be our first time traveling with our newborn son and our 4- and 7-year-old boys. It'll be a challenge to bounce from kid to kid to ensure they get ample mom and dad time. They'll especially need it on the 6-hour flight to Hawaii, and then back home to San Diego. I'm thinking this is where candy (normally forbidden for my kids unless they're at a birthday party, or it's Halloween) will help to fill some of the void-that along with a portable DVD player.

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Second, we're traveling just a few days after Christmas. It'll be the peak time my kids want to play with their new Christmas toys, and I know they won't want to leave them all at home. Therefore, I've asked family and friends to wait until we arrive in Hawaii to give the boys their presents. This way, we'll be able to cut down on the toys we bring with us on the trip, and it'll be a nice surprise when we arrive. On our way back home, I'll just ship anything that doesn't fit in our luggage.

I'll also be working around nap schedules, meal times, and activities for the kids-all while nursing my newborn son pretty much around the clock. So I'm planning to stay in a vacation rental with a full kitchen and a separate bedroom from the main living area. This way, I'll be able to cut down on mealtime meltdowns (and save money on dining out) and give my boys a place to sleep so I don't have to go to bed at 8 pm like they do. As an added bonus, I'll have a washer and dryer, which is a godsend considering I wash a load of laundry at least three times a week due to diaper accidents. Plus, I'll be able to bring just a few days worth of clothes for each person in the family to cut down on luggage space.

Finally, I'd forgotten how much space baby gear takes up. A car seat, stroller, playard, breast pump, bottles, diaper bag-just thinking about all the baby gear gives me a headache, and I haven't even factored in diapers yet. To cut down on luggage space, I'm going to buy a basic playard and boogie boards for the kids from Craigslist at our destination. It'll be cheaper than renting, and much less of a hassle than lugging them from home. I'm also going to buy diapers, toiletries, and beach chairs from a local store.

Though all the planning has been exhausting, I feel good knowing that it will lead to a less stressful trip. And I'm hoping less stress will result in fewer tantrums for the kids-and mom and dad.

Are you traveling over the holidays with kids? What are your best tips?

Tracey Black is the author of Don't Mess with Mama, a blog about parenting, work-life balance, healthy eating, and life as a far from perfect mom. She has three boys under the age of eight, and lives in San Diego, California.

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