Parenting Sucks: Surviving Holiday Travel

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Dear Joanne,

Now that Halloween is over, I’m already dreading the holidays. Each year we visit my family during Thanksgiving, and my husband’s family for Christmas. With two kids under the age of 5, the stress of traveling takes the fun out of the holidays. Any ideas?


Dear, dear Debra,



Oh, how I feel your pain. In generations past, all we did to get to grandmother’s house was go over the river and through the woods. Now holiday travel involves planes, trains, and cars (not to mention gridlock traffic and endless security lines at the airport). Mix that with car seats, strollers, and diaper bags to schlep around, and bored kids who are overtired due to time zone confusion, and you have yourself a very sucky holiday season! I wish there was a magical elf who could zap the stress away, but there’s not. So, until your kids are old enough to zone out for hours in front of iPods or game systems, here are a few ideas to make the holidays a little less sucky:


  1. Before the trip, get your kids some new traveling toys (they have to be new to have lasting entertainment powers). My favorites were the classics they sell in the toy isle of drug stores. If going by plane, steer clear of things with tiny parts that will roll off the airplane tray again and again and again. For babies that are too young to enjoy toys, get bubble gum. Babies can spend hours (okay, several minutes, but that’s still darn good!) watching you blow bubbles.
  2. Choose your traveling snacks wisely. My favorites are those that can double as entertainment. For instance, you can play “guess which hand” with Cheerios and then eaten if guessed correctly. For older kids, give them a baggie filled with Fruit Loops and a string so they can make edible jewelry. Lollypops are ideal too. Yes, they have a lot of sugar, but they take forever to eat. I suggest keeping some in your purse for traveling meltdowns.
  3. If possible, keep your kids on the same time zone as home. A tired kid is a cranky kid. A cranky kid is a stressful holiday.
  4. If you’re traveling by plane, see if you can book seats on JetBlue, Virgin America, Frontier, or any other airline that has a TV screen in front of every seat. Oh, the beauty of that TV screen!
  5. Car travel can be tricky when car sickness is an issue. A child can no longer watch a DVD or read. If car sickness is an issue, have your kid look forward, eat a cracker, or, if he’s old enough, have him suck on a hard candy or mint. You can also roll down his window a little and have him stick his fingers out in the cold air.  Dramamine helps, but it does cause drowsiness, which may not be such a bad thing.

There you go, Debra. A few suggestions on how to survive holiday travel with kids. If none of the above sound like they’ll help, try my last, and best idea: STAY HOME! When little kids are involved, make family and friends come to you. True, having houseguests is a whole different ball of holiday wax stress, but at least you won’t have to leave your house.

Joanne Kimes is the author of the bestselling “Sucks” series as well as “The Stay-at-Home Martyr.”  Visit her at Her latest tome, “Divorce Sucks,”  with Mary Jo Eustace, the woman whose husband left her for Tori Spelling, has been making waves in the press and the book signing circuit.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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