Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house you go… Only instead of a sleigh, you’re crossing highways in your family car, or you’re family is boarding a plane to go 30,000 feet over river and woods to visit your family for Thanksgiving! Traveling with toddlers and preschoolers is often challenging, but when you add holiday stress to it, plus extra traffic and busy airports, it may be a bit overwhelming for both you and your child.
To help your family have smooth travels this Thanksgiving, our 5-star preschool in Raleigh is sharing some helpful tips for travelling with toddlers.
Traveling with Toddlers by Car for Thanksgiving
You’re used to driving around town with your toddler, but if you’ve never taken a long car trip with your toddler, here are some tips to make the trip easier for everyone in the vehicle:
Plan for Frequent Stops
While Google Maps may say it only takes four hours for your 250 mile drive, your toddler may have other ideas. Plan to stop for meals, stretching, and playtime, which can add a few hours to your trip, rather than trying to power through with a very grumpy toddler.
Hang Out with Your Toddler
If there are two adults traveling, take turns sitting in the backseat with your toddler, especially if they are still in a rear-facing car seat. You can read stories, color, and play with them which will keep them entertained and calm. Plus, it’s much more comfortable to sit beside them than try to engage or comfort your child while you’re turned around in the front seat.
Drive at Night or Naptime
Some children can sleep easily in their carseat, and if that is true for your family, consider planning your drive at a time that will allow your child to sleep. Driving at night has the benefit of of less traffic on the road, making it easier to arrive at your destination.
Flying with a Toddler for Thanksgiving
The week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for air travel, but it can go smoothly (or smoother, at least) with these tips:
Book a Seat for Your Toddler
While children who are under age two can sit on your lap, saving you some money, it’s not the best place for them. Instead, book their own seat and bring a car seat. This is for three reasons:
- It’s safer in case of turbulence to have them buckled in their own seat.
- They’re used to being in a car seat and it lets them stretch out and get comfortable.
- You can get your child out and hold them if necessary, but if you have the option of putting them down if you get tired or uncomfortable.
Bring a Change of Clothes for the Family
In the event of airsickness, diaper blowout, or even just a spilled drink, when a mess happens with a toddler, it’s big. You may already know to pack an extra outfit for your toddler, but if anything happens, it will probably get on you, too! The last thing you want is to spend a three-hour flight or layover in soiled or wet clothes.
Bring Twice the Necessities You Think You’ll Need
We don’t mean load down your carry on with every book and toy you own, we are only talking about necessities – diapers, wipes, and snacks. Delays, cancelled flights, circling the airport unable to land due to a storm – it all happens, and they can extend your travel time by several hours. The last thing you want is to run out of diapers or snacks knowing you have several hours left of your journey.
Book an Aisle Seat
Even though looking out the window is pretty exciting for little ones, they will lose interest pretty quickly. Instead, you’ll be getting up to walk the aisles, taking endless trips to the bathroom, or getting up and down getting toys and snacks out of the overhead storage. Having an aisle seat is easier for you and your fellow travelers.
Keep Entertainment Simple
Keeping your travel as simple as possible will lead to a better trip. While entertainment is essential, avoid anything with tiny pieces that could get lost, dropped, thrown, or fall easily. Instead of small cars and Shopkins, pack books, a tablet and headphones, and art supplies that are much easier to pack and keep up with.
Keep Attire Simple
Overalls, dresses, and clothing with snaps and buttons may be super cute for meeting the family, but they aren’t optimal for flying! Not only can they be uncomfortable to wear on a long trip, they can make diaper changes or restroom trips more complicated. Instead, choose elastic-waist pants, comfy sweatshirts, and slip-on or velcro shoes for easy changes.
Happy Thanksgiving from Our Raleigh Preschool!
We know traveling with toddlers for the holidays is not the easiest task, but we hope these tips can turn a stressful day into a memorable journey for you and your family. Once you get to your destination, you and your toddler can hopefully take a well-deserved nap.