Whether you are driving, flying or taking a train, travel with little ones will factor into many-a-holiday-plan this year. We are still routinely flying across country or driving several hours to visit with family, so over the years we have come to appreciate preparedness when traveling. This goes beyond packing enough socks and remembering that special lovey – travel is another potential stressor for little ones (and you!) especially over the holidays.
Here is what our little family does to have a smooth trip:
Remember the general ways to lessen stress on little ones. Start talking about your trip a week or two before you leave, going over what you’ll be doing each step of the way. Consider creating a traveling routine – in our family we get the same special snack every time we fly with our little ones, something that they don’t eat any other time and so very-much look forward to.
Keep little hands busy. A project that calls for focused fingers, is new and dynamic, and can be done and re-done time and again is perfect for any sort of trip. Some of our favorites are:
Burlap embroidery: Place a single square of burlap in a small embroidery hoop. Bring along 2 feet of yarn and a blunt needle. Let your little one stitch whatever pattern comes to them – when they are done, you can document the pattern (have your child draw a picture or snap a photo?), then pull out the yarn and stitch a new pattern.
Pipe-cleaner beading: A handful of beads and bells plus pipe-cleaners can turn into many minutes of making – bracelets, necklaces, animals, people.
Nuts and bolts: A variety of over-sized nuts, bolts, washers and wing-nuts can keep little fingers quietly entertained as they are configured and reconfigured.
Leave room for imaginative play on a smaller scale. In our newest issue, Winter Cozy, we include a DIY tutorial for the grown-ups on how to make a take-along felt board. If you don’t yet have our winter issue, or are just a bit short on time, you can make a simple lap felt board. Use one large (approx 8.5 by 11 inch) piece of felt as the canvas. Cut out smaller felt pieces for your little one to play with. Roll the small pieces up in the large piece of felt and secure with a ribbon or string. Let your little one tell you stories of the adventures happening in their winter scene!
Jump-start your felt piece collection with this adorable winter printable – Download your printable here!
Bring a book (or five). We pack longer paperbacks (thin and light) for airplane rides, many we keep out of our normal book rotation so that they are freshly remembered as the traveling minutes tick by. Some of our current favorites are Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall (also comes with a beautifully read audio CD, which is perfect for car trips), The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, and The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola.
So what do you do to prepare for holiday traveling? We would love to hear your tips and tricks as well! And for those of you who will be going out of town for the holidays – we hope you have happy and safe travels.