Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel with Kids

By Niki Taylor
Child walking through an airport

It’s that time of year where parents and caregivers pack up the kids and hit the highway–or airway–to see family, friends and loved ones. While this is typically a happy and joyful time of year, it can also be stressful planning all of that family travel.

According to the 2023 Holiday Travel Report from Nerd Wallet, more than 130 million Americans are planning to fly and stay in a hotel from November 16 through the end of the year.

If you are planning that trip to grandma’s house, here are some tips to make your trip uneventful–and drama free.

Plan with Family

Make it a point to organize your entire trip before you head out and include the family in the planning – even kids. That way not all of the planning falls on one person. If you have older kids, have them research things to do at your destination or stops along your travel route that may be interesting. Road trips are a great time to try a new restaurant. You can also stop at a state park along the way to stretch your legs. Making stops also reduces the boredom and the dreaded “are we there yet?” questions. If you are flying with small kids, many airports have kid zones or observation areas that can keep kids entertained over layovers.

Look for Discounts

Look for discounts on everything. If you are visiting a different city, find an app that offers local discounts for that area. Check out this resource on Tinybeans,  which lists different discount apps. Remember, if you are traveling with older family members, make sure they take advantage of their senior discount!

Schedule Events and Excursions Before you Leave

While it’s nice to be spontaneous when you arrive at your destination, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for events or excursions that may be popular. The last thing you want to see is a “sold out” sign for something your family is really looking forward to attending. Purchase tickets ahead of time or learn when there may be times with fewer crowds.


It’s hard to navigate an airport when each person in your group has a checked bag, carry on item and a personal bag. Find luggage that your kids can push/pull themselves. Upgrade your own luggage so it’s easy to maneuver through airports. See Travel & Leisure for suggested luggage for kids that is rated for maneuverability, durability, style and value.

Pack Lightly

While we all know that kids need a lot of stuff, if you are flying, it’s best to travel light.

The kids will be fine with one outfit a day. Pack comfortable clothes along with one nicer outfit for going out. Since most holiday travel involves catching up with family, you may be hanging around the house more than going out, so need to get fancy with clothes. Also, you can use the laundry facilities at your destination to reduce the amount of clothes you need to pack. These tips are good for parents and caregivers as well–no need to overpack! Check out these packing tips to save space.

Bring Toys and Games

Kids can get bored very early into that 10 hour drive or five hour flight. Plan ahead by learning games to play in the car. Also, be sure that electronics are fully charged and that you’ve downloaded any movies or games they may want to watch before you leave. Surprise kids with new toys and games, which may help keep them entertained longer–BONUS!

Be Flexible and Remember to Breathe

Remember to expect that things may not go as planned–and that’s OK! Consider having alternative plans just in case. Research local parks, libraries, children’s museums, beaches, or local restaurants. The holidays are about spending time together, so just be flexible and remember to have fun!

Niki Taylor is a communications consultant with Niki Taylor PR.

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