5 Tips for Holiday Travel With Kids

This post is sponsored by Autotrader; all thoughts and opinions are my own. Autorader has made car buying easier than ever and is now making your travel easier too.  Read these helpful articles from Autotrader for their expert tips on road tripping this holiday.


Today, I am going to share some tips and my #1 rule to making the best out of holiday travel with kids.

Ok, let’s get right to the #1 rule that I know you’re so eager to read, set realistic expectations, now lower them. If we go in expecting it to suck, you will not be disappointed when it does, right?  Well,  it does not have to be an unpleasant experience. If we we have the right mindset, expectations and plan it can really be joy to the world status (with in reason; see rule #1).

5 Tips to Survive Holiday Travel With Kids


child in car seat coloring

Involve your children in the planning

Clue your children into your travel plans. Children feel more secure when they know what to expect and feel valued when they are involved in the planning.  All good things and they contribute to less melt downs. You can also get them more involved by letting them pick what books/games they want to bring for the road.  Helping pack their bags.  Make sure to explain that it is going to be a longer trip than normal and that you may end up hitting and sitting in traffic but that you will have some planned stops along the way to break up the drive.

It’s so important to be flexible and take breaks.  Don’t let your hurry/stress overwhelm you and your children. It is also OK and we do this often, to break up the trip and stop for the night. You will get to your destination eventually, it’s all about the journey and you’re making memories along the way.  Why not make them happy, fun and memorable?

Stick to normal routines

Children thrive on structure and routine.  When we stray from the daily routine and they don’t  know what to expect it creates discomfort and stress for them.  Being that their frontal cortex is not fully developed, children cannot express these feelings in a appeasing manner.  They instead  try to unpack those uneasy feelings by pushing boundaries and melting down.  Que the sibling squabbling!

Before hitting the road have some one-on-one time with each child, we call this special time.  Try doing something that will get them laughing.  Children empty their emotional backpacks by crying or laughing.  Ticking does not count and can be counter intuitive. So, do your best to have fun and get them laughing. Recommended time is at least 15 minutes per child.  Lastly, plan to hit the road at their usual nap or bedtime.  If the latter, get them into their jammies, brush teeth and tell a bedtime story in the car.

S N A C K S.  S N A C K S.  S N A C K S.

This is a given but pack more than you think you’ll need.  Stick to healthy and protein rich foods.  We usually try to hit the road before lunch and we always pack a lunch. We will drive until they wake up from their nap or are getting super wiggly or hungry.  Having our lunch on hand makes it super convenient.  We will map the nearest beach, park or recreation center.  We pull over, have a healthy lunch and let them play/run to burn their energy. We usually pack sandwiches, chips and fresh fruit for lunch.

Snacks include, meat sticks, popcorn, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, pb&j sandwiches, honey sticks, trail mix/nuts, seaweed, dried and fresh fruits, dark chocolate dipped rice cakes (a great treat), yogurt, apple sauce pouches, granola/protein bars, hummus and guacamole (Costco sells them in individual sized packages).


Pack some new games/toys

Again another given but here’s a twist.  Don’t fret if you can’t find the time to prep for this game but it will buy you some extra time so it maybe worth the effort to prep for it.

Wrap each new toy/game 3-5+ times and give your children clues or make it a scavenger hunt. For example find the letter A, a red truck, a stroller, a bird and they can unwrap a layer after finding 5 items from the scavenger list (you can make up the list as you go).

Read or tell them a story, this will help them feel connected to you and will help keep meltdowns at bay.  We also listen to audio stories or music (20-30 mins max at a time).

Autotrader made our holiday road trip easier with their Joy to the Road gift box. Our gift box was loaded with activities for the boys (and us) a chic coffee mug, cozy slippers, seasonal snacks and SO MUCH MORE! The boys loved getting to document our trip with our new Instax Mini 9 and travel journal. I loved plugging in the Bluetooth headphones and enjoying my coffee, hot.  They even included a mini first aid kit too, which has come in handy more than once!


Mind over matter

Again all about expectations and mindset.  Our children are so intuitive and they absorb the energy around them.  If we go in dreading the loooooong trip ahead they will go in dreading it too and react accordingly.  Recognize when you feel the stress building up and handle it.  This is such a great opportunity to model mindfulness to our children. Take deep breathes, get out and stretch.

Repeat a mantra:

This is all part of the adventure.

This too shall pass.

I am having fun.

I am calm.

I am peaceful.

Today I choose love.

My child is simply a child.

I will pause before I react.

The mind is very powerful and it believes what you tell it, so feed it good happy thoughts.


Bonus: Pack a portable potty! We have this one and it’s been a life saver!  It folds super compact and is easy to store and tote around.


Do you have any tips for holiday travel with kids?






Hi, I’m Lucy a San Diego based Motherhood, Life & Style Blogger. I am also a wife & a mother to two sweet boys. Here on my blog, I share about all things motherhood, fashion, beauty, self-love and travel. I also recently launched my own shop, Luna + June! I am passionate about living a happy, organic and stylish life.


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