Holiday Travel With Kids: Making sense of the season

Ready, set, GO!

Every phase of AK Kid’s growth comes with a new set of requirements for travel – I know this now. What worked at 12 months certainly didn’t work at age two, or four, or eight, and now, with our son entering the halls of ‘tweendom, travel, particularly holiday travel, is a new experience. Perhaps you are at this crossroads of holiday travel with kids, gazing at a spectrum of ages that need their own rule book. Below are a few ideas to ease the stressful holiday travel season, whatever the stage and however the mode.

We do love Alaska Airlines' Salmon-Thirty-Salmon.

AIR: The most popular way to exit and/or enter Alaska, airplanes these days are flying buses full of bags and people and cargo, and there never seems to be enough of anything, including room. So consider a few tips for air travel with kids, especially during the holiday season. 1) With children under two, take advantage of the early boarding of ‘stuff’ rather than kids. Have one parent board with the gear, and the other remain in the gate area to toddle off the yah-yahs before boarding. This ensures overhead bin space and a tired child. Win, win. 2) Pack lightly, but effectively. Load up the e-reader, i-Pod, or game-player before you leave home. Bring small toys or games, real books, and encourage kids to share (right). With overhead space at a premium, you’ll want to use every available inch of space.  3) Win over the crew. Bring them goodies, a card, and remember to say “hello” and “thanks!” at the beginning and end of your flight. It matters.  4) Be early. Hang out in the terminal, transition through security and go have a cocoa. Use the bathroom before you enter the aircraft.

The AKontheGO front-wheel drive sleigh, ready for action.

CAR: Over the river and through the woods to grandma’s can be pleasant with these useful tips. 1) Try soft-sided luggage rather than hard suitcases. We’ve discovered a wonderful ability to cram-jam more holiday treats into the AKontheGO Truckster if we pack our necessities in duffels. 2) Give everyone their own headset or pair of ear buds; even small children will enjoy listening to music or watching a movie, and bigger kids will appreciate the age-appropriate opportunity. 3) Pack snacks, drinks, and trash bags. Why spend more time and money at a gas station eating chips when you can have a family picnic along your route? We let AK Kid do the honors; sometimes we’re a little surprised at this “healthy choices” but at least he’s helping. 4) Bring a car charger. It is amazing how fast those smart devices lose battery power. Bring a charger for the automobile that can handle a DVD player, phone, or game.

AK Kid enjoys a new book on the train ride to Talkeetna.

ANYWHERE: No matter the method of transportation, a few tips are universal. 1) Carry cash. Cash works for taxis, snacks, and even fuel in some rural areas of the country. Don’t be left in the cold. 2) Bring appropriate documentation. Did I ever tell you about our trip to Talkeetna aboard the Alaska Railroad last winter? Seems someone in our party forgot to bring a Driver’s License. ARGH. Triple-check for travel documents in-hand before you pull out of the driveway. Passports, hotel and/or car reservations, or airline boarding passes, and contact information for your destination. 3) Communicate needs before you embark. Special meals, car seats, or transportation? Arrange in advance with relatives, friends, or a business. The holiday season is not the time to make a request with a moment’s notice. 4) Pack a few surprises. I bring a new book on just about every adventure (see photo, above). Other treats include new card games, snacks, or stories on CD.

It can be a season of cheer with a little preparation and a lot of patience. Happy holiday traveling!


You might also enjoy reading: 

Holiday Travel Tips 

Passports and Kids 





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