Travel During the Holidays

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The following is written by Life as MOM contributor, Amy:

Are you flying this week to celebrate Thanksgiving? Yes, the airports will be crowded, but don’t let that scare you. You can still have a great start to your trip!

Here’s how:

Allow extra time.

Plan to leave for the airport much sooner than you would normally go. There will be traffic, parking will be tight and, let’s face it, there will be a ton more people at the airport than there normally are.

Everyone else is traveling to spread some holiday love, too (or something like that). Continental’s website lists processing times at their airports, and I would recommend getting to the airport 3 hours before your flight during this extra-busy time. Yep, that’s a lot of time ahead. But wouldn’t you rather have some extra time on the airplane side of security, confident you will make your flight, versus stressing out and wondering if the s-l-o-w line will move already?

Get there early and be able to relax… it is vacation, right?

Get through security with a breeze.

Have your boarding pass and identification ready as you enter the security line. Then prep your kids on what to expect. Empty everyone’s pockets.

Have all your liquids (3 ounces or less each) in one quart-size zip top bag per person. Then set that bag on top of your carry-on to be checked. Laptops also need to come out of your bigger carry-on bag and be scanned themselves. And yes, everyone’s shoes and jackets, even the children’s, need to be removed. (Editor’s note: Amy and her family just found out that children under 12 DO NOT need to remove their shoes. Yeah! Jackets and coats will still need to be removed to proceed through security.)

Have fun at the airport.

Stash an extra game or two to play while you wait. We usually play a few rounds of Uno, or when the kids were younger, we explored every aspect of the airport, walking, looking, talking. We also used to travel with a ball to roll or toss, depending on the ages of our kids.

You could also pack a picnic to eat. Just remember you cannot pack liquids to take through security, so leave soups and drinks at home. Fruit, sandwiches, veggie snacks, crackers and cookies are good to go. Toss in a light picnic blanket and really make it festive!

photo source: Simple Bites

Bring a few extra carry-on items… just in case.

There is a lot of luggage to move through the airport in a short time during holiday travel days. This means there could be a mistake and your luggage could get delayed. If you are traveling to a cold destination, pack coats in your carry-on. Bring critical medicine onto the plane with you instead of packing it. Consider how important a change of clothes is and, of course, pack extra diapers and formula, if your baby needs it. And, if your bags do get delayed, don’t be shy about asking for a complimentary toiletry kit.

Flights get delayed and people get hungry. Pack a few extra snacks to keep tummies from rumbling.

Bring your smile and good attitude.

Above all else, do your best to be the beacon of joy at the airport. Your kids (and people around you) will pick up on your good mood and be joyful, too.

Yes, lines can be daunting and no one likes to wait but, at the end of the day, you’ll be on vacation with the ones you love. And doesn’t that just make you smile in itself?

Bon Voyage!

What do you do to make airport time fun? Any crazy games? Favorite toys? Scavenger hunts? Tell us about your good (waiting) times here.

Amy is the Mom behind both Mom’s Travel Tales and Mom’s Toolbox. She is a world traveler — in heart, body, and prayer. She regularly hosts the Bible in 90 Days read-along. A mother of three young children, Amy writes to equip moms with tools for success whether at home or abroad.

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  1. A VERY cool thing now is kids don’t have to remove their shoes anymore! Whoo Hoo! I just travelled two weeks ago through LAX, and, nope, no shoes off for the kids. Nice. Also, you may get asked for birth certificates. They said it’s okay to bring a copy with you. I saw a woman get turned away b/c she didn’t have hers for her infant… so sad!

    1. That happen to us once but I had my daughters insurance card which had her birthdate so the lady took it. Not that I am suggesting using it in place of a BC but maybe an option for a fallback.

  2. Maybe it was in your post, but I missed it. One thing I have done when traveling is that I take an EMPTY water bottle with me through security (leave the cap off so that the cameras can see that it’s empty). After going through, I fill it from a drinking fountain. No more running to the water fountain every few minutes for thirsty kids and no paying $4 for bottled water.

  3. we are spending christmas away frommy home and my daughter is just 2 yearsold. what i was thinking is on how i should sterilize her bottles if we are staying on a hotel? hmm…that’s actually my homework trying to figure out what to do as i’ve never done this before..wahm

    1. Some hotels have microwaves in the room. Others havethe ability to heat water for tea or coffee. If it’s just water for tea, you could heat the water and then use that to sterilize the bottles.

  4. Great tips!! The “bring your smile and a good attitude” was the BEST tip anyone every told me. I had to travel by myself, when by boys were 3 and 1. Some people don’t like little ones on planes, and I brought TWO! But everyone likes a smile. It did wonders for us. It’s amazing how many people are willing to help a smiling mom.

  5. So true about the coats! When I was a child, we traveled from California to Missouri for Christmas. We went from 70º to -40º in one day–and they lost our luggage! It was over a week before we got it back. My parents had to scramble to buy us warm pajamas to even be warm enough in my grandparents’ house. My brother and I got very, very sick. Take your coat on with you!

  6. Shoes still need to be removed at PDX. I have all the kids wear Velcro or slip on shoes…makes it go quicker. PDX also has a “Family Line” for security which has more patient, stroller carrying people and gets the business people through quicker. Many of the larger airports are starting to get this as well.

  7. These are some great tips when traveling with little ones. I can say I get stressed when we are getting ready to travel, but once we are past security and can just relax and wait for our flight it all becomes better. I always follow if it doesn’t fit in my purse or your backpack it doesn’t come with us on the plane. I am not going to carrying a million items onto the plane. I bring my iPad for the kids to play with. They can play games, read, watch movies, or watch TV through DISH Network. With my employee account I have the sling adapter hooked up and that allows them to access all our subscription channels anywhere we can get a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. They love watching all their favorite shows live and it usually will keep them busy on and off the plane.