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Tips for traveling with kids in the winter

Road trips with the kids this time of year can be a joy, but also a bit trying!

Family Travel Writer Lori LeRoy shares a few tips for traveling with kids over the holidays – by car or plane – and things we can do to keep everyone happy.

Road trips:
Don’t stress over a traffic mess.
Plan extra time to get to your destination. There are inevitably traffic jams, weather issues and other delays during holiday road trips, but if you anticipate that it might take longer than normal, you might not be as frustrated when you encounter a delay. And, using technology can also help: Waze can help you avoid delays or at least help you plan an alternate route if you happen upon an unexpected stop. The iExit app can find you on most major highways and tell you the upcoming exits and rest stops and what kinds of accommodations are there – also gives gas prices!

Stop for the world’s largest ball of paint
Stopping at a fun or unique attraction is one of my favorite tips for road trips with kids during the holidays (or any time).We also like to commemorate new states that the boys visit by stopping at the first rest stop or visitor’s center along the highway and snapping a photo at the “Welcome to” signs. Stopping at fun attractions breaks up the trip, lets kiddos expend some energy and is something to look forward to along the way.

Go for the whoopie pie or throwed roll
Checking out an area’s local food specialties gives you a break from eating too many Goldfish crackers, Combos and Pringles. Finding whoopie pies in Maine was a great treat ; pulling over for boiled peanuts in Georgia and North Carolina; fresh blueberries and cherries in Michigan; and other regional delights are great ways to get a taste of the local culture and fill up your stomach so that you can charge on to your destination.
Fun places to eat and regional restaurants are great finds, too The home of the throwed rolls, the best BBQ in the Carolinas or authentic Amish restaurant for sugar cream pie and homemade noodles making stopping worth it and gives you a break in your trip.

• Fly during your kids “magic” hours. My boys are early risers and hit their strides in the morning, so we always try to fly then. There are also statistically fewer flight delays in the morning. With little kids, it would be wise to have them run around or hit a playground before the airport to get rid of some energy.
• Don’t get to the airport too early. Waiting is the enemy of parents with young kids. Obviously, you’ll want to allow extra time to get through security, but try to plan it so that you don’t have too much time sitting at the gate before boarding.
• Pack soothing items – is it a small blanket, favorite stuffed animal? Bring it and use to your advantage.
• Bring water bottles, sippie cups and chewing gum. Air pressure can sometimes be tough for littles. Encourage drinking on take off and landing or gum chewing to help alleviate the pressure and pain.
• Sit in the aisle and the seat next to it – that way it is easier to get up and not have to crawl over people for frequent restroom breaks.

• Keep them busy. I’ve found that this and having plenty of snacks are the best two ways to stave off a tantrum. My boys have always brought their own backpacks on flights with lots of activities – tablets, card games, word puzzles, coloring books, Play-doh, books about the place you are going, etc. Even better is to pre-pack a few surprise items that you can pull out of your own bag if kids start getting restless or as a reward for good behavior.
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