Tips on How to Handle the Hectic Holiday Season When Traveling with Children


For many families this holiday season, traveling is a must. As families hit the road or the skies with their children, stress levels can sky rocket, leaving parents wondering why they ever thought that a magical holiday was possible.


Before parents throw in the holiday towel, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) encourages parents to pack their patience, along with the following tips, to get through holiday travel:

  • Keep positive. If you are stressed about the headache of traveling, your kids will pick up on it.  Change your perspective and make the trip an exciting adventure for them. Don’t forget that it’s about the journey, not just the destination. Your positive attitude will be the best holiday gift you can give your family.
  • Normalize the experience. Explaining to children about gridlocked freeways, busy airports, delayed flights and irritable passengers will help alleviate their discomfort when the unexpected happens.
  • Prepare for fun.  Involve the kids in planning what to do while en route to your destination. Limit electronics and create activities that utilize all of their senses to keep them happy, alert and occupied. Make sure that you have enough variety to last throughout the trip, and don’t forget that it’s a round trip.
  • Create special travel moments.  Each time you travel, give your children something to look forward to that builds memories. Perhaps it’s getting a special drink at the airport or at the gas stop or maybe it’s taking silly photos along the way.
  • Tag team.  Set up an agreement with your partner in advance regarding the roles that are needed while traveling with kids.  Working together is important so that you can take breaks and keep your patience in check.
  • Brace yourself for public displays of attention. Expect that your children may have meltdowns and have a quick plan of action for dealing with it. If you accept that the occasional meltdown is a reality of life on the road, it will be much easier to handle.

To learn more on how to cope when traveling with children, dealing with holiday stress, or to find a therapist in your area, visit

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