Over the River and Through the Woods Without Losing Your Sanity
Any other time of year, you’d be spending a lot of time organizing a family trip out of town. At the holidays, however, the travel part can be an afterthought.
I put together some of my favorite travel tips to make things easier this year so you can have more jolly and less worry.
1. Time Timer ® Watch Plus: No sense burying the lead here. The Watch Plus is the answer to your “Are we there yet” misery. Use the timer function and plug in how much time is left in the trip (add a 10-minute cushion), and hand over your watch. Even though I work for Time Timer, I only recently thought of this one. Sure, the Time Timer is on the tablet and phone, but kids might switch those, and I’m certainly not giving up my phone on the trip. (I’m not driving!) I give it to my impatient child, and voila! It was amazing. He felt in total control of the time remaining on the trip.
2. When the kids were younger, I always traveled with small surprises for each leg of the trip. For example, one treat for driving to the airport (We often drive several hours for cheaper flights), another treat for arriving at the airport gate, another treat on the layover, and a final gift on the last flight. The treats don’t have to be expensive. Think new crayons you will need on the trip anyway, the $1 Disney coloring kits from the Target dollar spot, their favorite type of gum, a simple puzzle, playing cards, etc. The most important part is that these treats are wrapped like presents. And that you’ve appropriately set expectations.
3. Power banks: Most families today are traveling with electronic devices that entertain kids, so I won’t belabor the point. But don’t forget the power banks that you can recharge and then use as external power supplies. I don’t care how many outlets your fancy van has, you will need them. Or what about the flight that said it had power outlets but didn’t? Consider a different sticker for each one and let your kids keep track of their own.
4. Pack items that help you maintain your routine. Most of you know the importance of keeping baby’s routine, but it helps at any age, especially if you are traveling to an unfamiliar place. For example, we travel with our kids’ favorite pillow cases, and I trade out the pillow case on the pillow of where we are staying. We also bring night lights and use a white noise app on the tablet that simulates the fan in their room back home. Try to keep to their regular bedtime as much as is reasonable; when you can’t, just replicate the bedtime process: bath, reading--whatever it is. And try to make bedtime the same amount of hours after wake-up, meals, etc.
5. If you are flying, try to book the aisle and the window even on a flight that has seats in sets of three. We do this with our family of four; if the airline ends up filling that middle seat, someone is always willing to trade their middle seat for an aisle, and then we end up together. If the seat remains vacant, the kids can stretch out!
- Natalie Hastings