If you have had to go anywhere with your children, you know some days are better than others. And, some children travel better than others. My youngest absolutely hated being in her car seat for the longest time. She still sometimes cries, but not as incessantly as before and she has just turned 7 months old.
Interestingly, my son was very similar until he could forward face. Our middle child reminds me of a California surfer stereotype. “Whatever, man.” She went on many a trip, and still is pretty laid back and goes with the flow so long as she’s not super tired or anything along those lines.
And, we obviously have our preferences for what makes the journey a little smoother, a little less chaotic, and a little more enjoyable. While you likely take road trips all year for various reasons, the holiday season seems to really pack in the car rides and visiting families or places for celebrations and festivities.
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Here are my tips for traveling with children for the holidays:
Be Open to Change
Sometimes our son and oldest daughter like to sit next to each other and sometimes that simply isn’t the best scenario. We move her car seat to accommodate the mood there. The likelihood that they’ll get along the entirety of the trip, no matter how short or how long, remains minimal. But, there’s no need to make it worse if you can avoid it.
My favorite for car rides. Growing up, we played all sorts of fun little activities. Now, the main ones that hold their attention are I Spy and variations on that. Plus, it is simple enough for the little one to play (she can’t see out the windows super great for many others like the license plate game).
Our son has gone through phases. He LOVED books when he was a little tyke, then went through a phase in which books burned him (exaggeration here, but that’s how he acted), and now he’s back to enjoying certain genres. Oriana, miss California surfer, has a few in particular she likes but isn’t really picky here. We also have a few chapter books we read together, and could always pick a book on tape to follow along with.
If you haven’t heard of these scratch books, then let me enlighten you. They are pretty amazing. Even I enjoy scratching the images to color. And, for a little while of peace and relatively quiet, you’ll thank me. The little activity booklets with coloring, drawing, connect-the-dots, mazes, word searches, and similar bits make for good time passers, also.
Consider this choice optional. If they can agree on them, then the movies help them when they’re tired to zone out and fall asleep. Or for the times we need to have a bit of extra-quiet, then we pop a film in and that helps tremendously. If it works, it works.
I am a HUGE music fan. Having a degree in Music Education and growing up learning to play the piano and wanting to be a singer meant I surrounded myself with music. I am fairly eclectic in my selections, and I love a good jam session. Nothing lightens the mood and puts me in a happy space like a good song. Plus, if I belt it out and purposefully sing to my son, he gets a bit embarrassed and I can get him to crack a smile, too. Oriana’s usually singing right along with me, and dad makes up new lyrics (clever ones, though).
No family excursion would be complete without snacks for the road. Whether you choose healthy options or indulge in sweets, you set the tone of staving off the hangry kids (and you, too). Hanger creeps up to ruin the family traveling real quick-like. I always end up packing wayyyy too many snacks. But, you just never know!
When I was little, I had a special blanket. Our children don’t seem to have anything they’re as attached to as I was my Dewey, but Treyton does have a special pillow pet and a stuffed animal (the latter changes frequently). Currently, he has a pug he got for his birthday that he never leaves home without. Oriana brings a stuffed animal merely because her brother does, but not any certain one in particular. She does have “babies” she likes to bring along, but even those rotate. We’ll see what Octavia decides as she gets older, but I pack a blanket with as of right now. Anything to make the journey cozier for them makes my life easier.
I could probably keep adding to the list, but I’ll stop at those 8 suggestions. Traveling with our children (especially over the holidays) runs much more smoothly if we bring these items along, as well. Everything but the kitchen sink, am I right? Seriously, though, I hope this helps you prepare for your holiday visiting itinerary!
What are your must-include elements? Happy holidays, my fellow flawed tribe!
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Snacks are one of the things that we NEED. no matter how long we travel for!
Haha my daughter has to bring a snack when we go to pick up brother from school — which takes all of 20 minutes. Silly kids.
Great post! I would say music and snacks are our #1 must-have for a road trip. My kids are older (16 and 12 yrs), but these tips still apply to them. Thanks again for the great tips.
Good to know that kids rarely change their traveling must-haves! 😀 Thank you!