The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

holiday travel with kids

9 Santa-approved tricks to keep the littlest travelers happy

Holiday travel with kids is a winter break tradition for some families. Christmas with grandparents. The in-laws’ annual ski trip. Scoping out a Winter Wonderland. Check, check, and double check!

But if traveling with little ones is, shall we say, tricky during the best of times, the holidays make it a bit more challenging. No worries; we’ve got everything you need to make your winter getaway smooth and hassle-free.

  • Stick to sleep schedules

    As much as possible, stick to your kid’s usual sleep schedules. Dragging sleepy kids out of bed and off to the airport or boarding an 8 p.m. flight with an excited, overtired toddler = a recipe for disaster.

    Book flights that respect the all-mighty need to sleep (and yes, that includes naps!). Even if it means paying a little more for your flight: trust us, it’ll be worth every dime!

  • Manage their anxiety

    Little kids have big emotions. The excitement mixed with a slight nervousness can send their stress levels skyrocketing. Help kids learn to control their anxiety by teaching them simple breathing or meditation techniques before your trip. Then remind them to use those techniques as needed.

    Taking a few minutes to let kids find their inner peace (yes, in the middle of a hectic airport) can make the day smoother for all!

  • Wear the right clothes

    We’ve got three words for you if you’re flying to a different climate: layer, layer, layer!

    Going from a cold flight to a hot, humid city? Keep kids cool (and keep your cool!) by shedding layers. Headed someplace snowy? Have scarves, gloves, and an extra layer or two on hand.

    Everyone’ll be happier if they’re comfortably dressed. And happy kids are a lot easier to travel with than cranky ones!

  • Give yourself the gift of time

    Does it usually take 30 minutes to get through security? Give it an hour. And avoid any too-short layovers that’ll have you dashing through the snow… err, airport.

    Even if it makes your travel day a bit longer, pad extra time in there whenever possible early. Arrive extra early; no frazzled rushing around.

  • Don’t overpack

    Holiday travel with kids means souvenirs and Christmas gifts that will take up some of your precious luggage space on the way home. Leave some wiggle room in your bags so you have space for the extras you pick up.

    You don’t want to have to buy an extra suitcase to get everything back home! And you really don’t want to pay for overweight checked bags.

  • Think twice about schlepping gifts

    If the little ones still believe in Santa, you don’t want to risk them seeing something they shouldn’t in your suitcase! And forget about wrapping them; TSA might make you unwrap them right in front of those curious little eyes.

    Our fave recommendation? Ship your gifts to your final destination with LugLess. Your gifts will be there when you arrive, waiting for Santa to stash them under the tree.

  • Keep ‘em snacking

    Long flights and layovers? Let’s face it, that mini bag of pretzels from the beverage cart just isn’t going to cut it!

    Happy tummies = happy kids, you guys!

    Help prevent the hangry kid meltdowns by having plenty of yummy snacks on hand. Think healthy, not sugary-y: granola bars, trail mix, fruit. Maybe even a PBJ or two…

  • Bring distractions

    Sitting and waiting, waiting and sitting. And for active kids, that equals “I’m bored!” So how do you make holiday travel with kids fun?

    We’ve got this one covered! Pack a backpack for each kid with new crayons, books, small toys, whatever they’re into. Whenever they get antsy, bam! Something new to play with.

  • Ship your stuff

    After a long day of holiday travel with kids, the last thing you’re going to want to do is wait around baggage claim. Save time and hassles by shipping your stuff to your hotel, Airbnb (or grandma’s!) with LugLess. The only thing you’ll need to keep track of at the airport is the littlest traveler!

Ready to hit the friendly skies with your kids? Follow our tips and your winter break will be off to an awesome start! Just don’t forget to let Santa know where you’re headed…