The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of love and good cheer. And for the most part, they are. But when part of your holiday festivities includes traveling with small children, it can be a bit trying. I remember one year I actually had to return a gift I’d purchased for a relative for something smaller because I wouldn’t have room for it in the car with everything I’d need for a 5 year old, 2 year old and a 4 month old! Oh, the joys of packing to travel with children.
What to take
When travelling over the holidays, you have to consider not only your family’s personal luggage, but the gifts, too. And not only are there gifts for the people you are going to visit, but your children’s gifts as well. Hey-you can’t have them wake up Christmas morning to find that Santa didn’t know where they were, can you? No!
Additional items to pack include things to keep the ride pleasant. Keep this to a minimum, though. If you have a travel DVD system, for instance, limit each child to 1 or 2 movies depending on drive time.
Cut the risk of spills and messes (which don’t help stress levels) by taking few, if any, snacks. If travel time is less than 3 hours, the kids won’t starve in that amount of time, anyway.
A small tote bag of simple toys they can hold in their hands and books is all that is necessary. Reading to your children will help pass the time quickly, as will playing word games and singing songs. Children have lots of energy on any given day of the week. But when you throw the excitement of Christmas in the mix, it’s almost too much. They don’t mean to be naughty, they’re simply excited. So by keeping them busy and occupied, the fidgeting and whining during travel time will be greatly reduced.
About the luggage…
I tend to over pack. This is not the time for over packing. Limit adults and children over 10 to one outfit per day away plus one or two extras. In addition, pack pj’s, underwear for each day, two or three pair of shoes and any recreational clothing you’ll need such as swimwear or hats, coats and gloves.
As for children 3 to 10 years of age, one outfit per day away plus 3 extra should suffice. Pack an extra pair of pj’s too, to go along with everything else mentioned above.
The littlest ones in the family require special consideration when packing for holiday travel. You’ll need 2 outfits per day away plus 2-3 extra, 2-3 pair of pj’s, diapers, stroller, portable crib (if one isn’t available), bouncy seat or booster seat that can double as a high chair and any baby food or formula you need. NOTE: Be sure to always take extra formula and food in case of spills, etc.. ANOTHER NOTE: Don’t forgo taking the stroller to save room if there’s any chance you’ll be sightseeing, shopping, etc. It’s not worth it.
Keeping it simple
That’s a lot of stuff, isn’t it-especially if you’re like our family and had multiple little people. But there are ways to keep things simple.
- Take travel-sized containers of soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.
- Pack clothing that is color coordinated to reduce your ‘need’ for shoes
- Remember that jeans can be worn more than one time-especially by older children and adults
- If you are going to be gone more than four days, pack for five and do laundry
About those gifts…
If you are packing your children’s gifts to take with you, give them first priority besides the luggage. But as you are shopping, keep in mind the fact that you are travelling And if your children no longer believe in Santa, you might consider giving any larger gifts prior to leaving. Just be sure they have gifts to open on Christmas day.
As for other gifts, consider giving smaller items such as books, movies and jewellery You can also reduce the amount of room you need by buying one nice gift for your sister and brother in-law instead of two or buying gift cards for everyone. Not much room needed there.
Soak up some sun with the kids!
Just in case
You can never be too prepared when it comes to travelling with children. So in addition to those everyday items you know you need, it’s always a good idea to bring along…
- Children’s fever and pain reducer medication
- Sun block
- Their favorite blanket and sleeping buddy
- Flashlight (in case they wake in the night)
- Their favorite breakfast cereal (getting them off to a good start each day makes traveling more fun)
Travelling over the holidays can be fun-even when you have small children. But if it simply isn’t something you and/or your children deal with very well, stay home. Invite family members to visit you OR make the trip before or after Christmas day to reduce the amount of necessary packing. Whatever you decide, giving your family a truly enjoyable Christmas or love and good cheer is what matters most. Because as one little boy put it… “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
Here are some related articles:
How to avoid a family vacation from hell
10 popular vacation destination ideas
Vaccinations to get before travel