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    « One-word Wednesday: Icy | Main | It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...and the GRAND Social »

    Holiday travel with kids: 5 tricks for an easier time

    I leave this afternoon for an early holiday visit with my grandsons. I've got my grandma bag packed with lots of festive fun, and I shipped my Christmas gifts via UPS yesterday to arrive at Bubby and Mac's house tomorrow. No sense lugging them in my luggage when I could ship them for basically the same price—and be able to wrap them beforehand, with no complaints (or tearing open) by TSA.

    I'm excited and all set to go. The only thing that will be missing from the trip is PawDad. This will be a solo trip for me to see our grandsons as the primary reason for heading to the desert is to cover childcare while Megan and Preston cover their seasonal obligations and celebrate their birthdays (Preston's was yesterday, Megan's is Friday).

    Mac and Gramma 2011It's pretty easy for a grandma to get up and go for a holiday visit to the grandsons. It's not so easy to do the celebrating the other way around, with the grandsons and family traveling to Grandma's. Megan and Preston know that for a fact, as that's what they did last year—traveled over the river and through the woods to Gramma and PawDad's house.

    I naturally had no trouble at all welcoming my grandsons and their parents to my home Christmas Day last year. For Megan and Preston, though, the trip was rough, and they've sworn to not travel again at Christmas—at least not while the boys are young and restless.

    Bubby at Gramma's 2011I would love nothing more than to have my entire family together for Christmas celebrations, but I get it: Traveling with young kids is hell challenging.

    That said, there are some tricks for making an easier time of it. Claire Haas, mom of two and Vice President of Education for Kiddie Academy, offers the following tips for handling holiday travel with kids. Share her ideas with the moms and dads heading your way with your precious grandkids in tow, ripe and ready for seasonal spoiling by Grandma and Grandpa:

    •• Consider traveling at off-peak hours. Start the trip at 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. Doing so will avoid traffic, and the kids may just sleep for part of the trip. Increase the chances for sleep by an extended playground trip to burn off energy before buckling them in the car seats.

    Courtesy Kiddie Academy• •A dollar store cookie sheet with magnets works great as a lap desk for the car or on a plane. The raised edge can help prevent crayons and cars from landing on the floor.

    • •If facing a long car ride with the kids, pack each a "travel activity bag" with new games and activities to keep them busy. Keep the bag in the front seat and dole out a new item each hour. For example, a printed map for playing the license plate game or bubbles to blow out the car window.

    • •Consider relaxing any restrictions on daily screen time. Video games, iPads and laptops can be true lifesavers when dealing with kids facing hours in close proximity to their siblings.

    •• You have two choices on bedtime disruptions during holiday travel—stick to the routine while away from home, or just accept that rules are out the window and make the best of it. For some children, staying up past bedtime during the holidays is a special treat they'll remember fondly. Do what will work best for your family, and shrug off raised eyebrows from a great aunt or other relative because kids are allowed to stay up late or required to stay on schedule.

    Today's question:

    Would you rather travel to visit family at the holidays or host the family at your place?

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    Reader Comments (12)

    have a wonderful time! :)

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdebra

    Since both sets of Grandparents were 'out of town' when my kids were young, I understand the challenges. After my youngest reached age 2, we refused to travel over Christmas.

    So now it's my turn to travel if necessary during the holidays. Fortunately, it's a short trip!

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    Have a fun time, Lisa! I really love these ideas for small kid travel....passing on to my daughter! They NEVER want to go anywhere because to them it is hell! I keep telling her they will sleep if they leave at 4 in the morning/cherish a break in their highly structured lives/ALWAYS remember holidays at their other Gma and Gpa's up north farm!!! We took her and three littles on plane to CA with us at ages 18 mo and 4 yrs. Gpa and I just rolled with it and were very hands on......Mom not so much. Everything was drama and diffucult in her eyes. Where did we go wrong? LOL Anyway....this is a great post AND I'm glad to know I'm not the only one feeling cheated/bamboozled by FB! Clever girl you are!

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Stommen

    I would rather have family come to my house....even though I have a small home and wished I had a bigger one. My husband and I and our two children, then age 2 and 7, did make a holiday trip by automobile to my husband's family in central IL. We vowed never to do it again. We've gone back many times in the spring, summer and fall but never again in the winter!

    Have a safe trip!

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie E.

    When I think about those long ago days (I'm the old great-grandma now) of traveling in a car with all seven kids, I still cringe. Those tips you listed would only work for more normal-sized families, I fear; every added item would prove to be new weapons for my gang to pound one another on the head with. Pardon the dangling participle.

    I'd much rather stay put and have visitors come to see me and, after all those years of torment, I think I deserve that. Happy traveling to whomever has to do the road trips with kids.

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    I hope you have a wonderful time! How generous of you to give up your time to help with the babysitting!!! Have a blast -- you can sleep next week!

    Since Amara is so close by this isn't an issue but I remember the times when I used to travel to Michigan for the holidays. I always tried to take the midnight flights so I could just sleep through the chaos.

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    Have a wonderful time with your beautiful grandsons Lisa.

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    We always told our daughter that when she had a family she should create cherished traditions for her children in her own home. We know people whose children were never in their own homes at Christmas, and while they had family togetherness, I think they missed a lot by not having it in their own home. Now, of course, we wish more of the holiday could be at our house, but we understand not only the logistics but the logic.

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBLissed-Out Grandma

    Safe travels!

    I love the suggestion about dollar store cookie sheets for use in the car. I'm going to buy some tomorrow with some alphabet magnets. They'll be used when I go get Our Princesses on Friday to spend the weekend.

    This is the year that both of our kids will spend Christmas with their in-laws. It's tough to deal with them not coming home, but we'll see them shortly after the holiday and we'll have the Princesses for Grams and Pop-Pops Rockin' Toddler New Year's Eve.

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Valenta

    I'm so fortunate that my grands are all within an hour's drive. They all have Christmas morning (when Santa comes) at their own homes and then come to my house for more fiesta! This year we thought we were going to be missing one little darling, but her other grandpa decided to have his celebration on Christmas Eve. So we should be seven for seven on Christmas Day! Try not to hate me! LOL

    December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Adcox

    Have a wonderful trip Lisa! Nothing better than seeing the grandkids. I am blessed to be close to mine, and love having the entire family over for the holidays.

    December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Spindle

    I always traveled to my son's house for an early Christmas, Lisa. It was much easier than them coming to NY during the crowded holiday time. I'm glad you are seeing your little guys again! Enjoy!

    December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat
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