I’m no stranger to air travel with kids. We took our first airplane ride when our oldest daughter was 4 months old and she’s now been on over 100 airplanes and visited 9 states and 27 countries. We’re now a family of five and as our family has grown, our luggage space seems to have shrunk and I’ve had to get creative with packing in order to avoid extra baggage fees.
Traveling in the summer months with kids is a big enough challenge, but traveling in the winter time AND during present giving season presents its own unique challenges! Here are some tips for surviving holiday travel with kids:
- Pack light because the clothes are heavy. Pack clothes for the whole family that can be worn multiple times like jeans and things that can layer and mix and match. I am always tempted to pack extra clothes for the kids in case of spills and messes but I also know that pajamas tops can be used as emergency undershirts and things that aren’t soiled can be reworn if necessary.
- Pack all the hats, gloves and coats in a carry-on duffle bag. This way you’ll have them all handy when you arrive at your destination and need them but you won’t have to manage multiple extra things at security and when boarding/deplaning.
- Leave the big and heavy gifts for the kids at home. There is no need to lug unnecessary large or heavy items both ways. Instead, take a picture of the gift for older kids or just a small part of the gift for younger kids to play with (this also helps prolong the holiday excitement when you get home!)
- Shop when you get there or online and ship ahead. Instead of buying gifts for people where you’re traveling to, wait to shop until you get there (if you’ll have time) or order the items online and have them shipped directly to your destination.
- Leave room in your luggage for coming back. If you’re visiting family for the holidays, you’ll most likely have gifts (or after-holiday shopping steals) to bring back and while you can ship them, I like to have extra room available in my suitcases. I’ve used a few different strategies for having space including:
- Nesting suitcases. Fill a small or mid-sized suitcase and pack it inside a larger suitcase or pack a soft sided duffle bag in your suitcase which gives you around twice the luggage space coming back and saves you from paying extra baggage fees.
- Take disposable items you’ll need. When traveling in the summer I usually have my family pick up diapers and wipes for us but in the winter I usually take enough for the trip (and I always take our favorite snacks and baby food). Once we’ve used up the diapers and eaten the snacks we have extra room in our suitcase to bring back our new treasures.
- Use expandable suitcases. Most suitcases now have an expandable portion that zips out to give you more packing space. I always leave it zipped up when we go so I’m guaranteed to have extra space coming back.
- Pack gifts. Take the gifts you have for your family in your suitcase instead of shipping ahead so you have room to bring back the gifts they give you in exchange.
- Pack little travel surprises in the kids’ carry-ons. I like to go to the dollar section of my favorite store and pick up little games, books and craft items to surprise the kids with on the plane. During the holidays I try to get holiday themed items to help them get excited!
About Melissa Roy:
I am a full time stay-at-home mommy to three, part time ballet teacher and dedicated author of Beyond Mommying. I love traveling and sharing the world with my children which led to our decision to undertake homeschooling. With a first grader, toddler and one in between, my mommying journey is never dull and constantly takes me new places and teaches me more than I ever thought I could know about love, patience and this big, confusing world we live in. I have a B.A. in Dance Education and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction focused in Early Childhood Education and use my skills and education to guide my mommy life.