How to Survive Holiday Travel

How to Survive Holiday Travel

Read on for 4 tips on traveling safely with your kids — and keeping your sanity!


By: Cheryl Lock

We all know that a little planning can help make the holidays less stressful. Shopping early for gifts allows you to search for deals and discounts, planning your menu ahead of time saves you anxiety from figuring out what to make, and getting those holiday cards out in advance stops you from scrambling to take a family photo and getting them ordered and sent out in time.

Along with gifts, food and cards, travel is one more item you could add to your better-when-done-earlier list. Just imagine yourself relaxing in the weeks ahead of the holidays when you’ve already accomplished everything on your to-do list.

Blissful, isn’t it?

Follow these tips for traveling with your family over the holidays — gathered from some traveling pros — and you’ll not only potentially save some cash, but you all just might make it to your destination in one piece, too.

1. Book in Advance — or at the Best Times
It’s best if you can book your trip at least 45 days in advance, says CheapOair’s Mark Drusch.

“Airlines do tend to launch major fare sales late at night,” says Drusch, if you’re making last-minute airfare purchases. “Plus, leaving on a Saturday can be a cheaper option for travelers as opposed to Fridays and Sundays.

Something else to consider: Sales for flights are generally put online on Tuesdays, and airlines try to match sale-for-sale, says Gillian Telling, mom and editor-in-chief of Budget Travel.

“Also, keep in mind that even though kids under 2 fly for free, in some countries they are still charged a tax. When we went to the Dominican Republic, we had no idea that we’d have to pay $150 at the airport for our son, but they wouldn’t let us on the plane otherwise.”

MORE: Tips for Traveling With Kids

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2. Head Off the Beaten Path
If you just want to travel with your family for the holidays and you aren’t headed to grandma’s or a relative's house, you’ll generally find good deals during the holiday for places that aren’t commonly traveled to during this time.

“An example is that the Pacific Northwest and northern California are not busy during the December to February period, so it’s a good time to find deals to those locations,” Drusch says.

3. Don’t Head Out Empty-handed
You know those teeny tiny packets of peanuts and pretzels you’re offered on flights? Yeah — your kid won’t want those, either.

“Definitely bring snacks, and lots of them!” Telling says. “I’m always so worried I’ll run out of food on the plane that I tend to overdo it. Also, some airlines don’t actually have milk on board — just little creamers for coffee. So if you think you’ll need milk during your flight, buy a few of those milk ‘chugger’ bottles that they sell in airports before boarding.”

RELATED: How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

4. Avoid Boredom at All Costs
Whether it’s a plane, train or automobile, the last thing you want when traveling with the kids is for them to be bored.

“I always bring a few books with the lift flaps so they’re somewhat interactive, stickers, crayons and some paper to color, a few little cars — nothing with noise,” Telling says. “And of course the [tablet]. Some people are opposed to them or don’t have one, but if you want a little space and quiet and your child enjoys cartoons, let them watch them on the plane. A quiet child is a win-win for all!”

MORE: 10 Apps for Family Travel

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