Worst-Case Handbook for Holiday Travel With Kids

My Best Self plans ahead for each and every worst-case scenario while en route to Grandma’s house for the holidays. Real Life, however, likes to kick me in the kneecap. While humor is the best defense, here are some ideas to help you survive traveling with kids during the holidays.

Worst-Case Scenario: electronics die–and you forgot the charger

Search the plane for teenagers. Plant your cutest child on your hip and address the adolescents: “Dude, I totally forgot a charger for the kid’s iPad. Can I bum one off you?” Slip a packet of sour, chewy candy onto their tray and continue to stare at them until the said charger is given up.

Worst-Case Scenario: Incessant crying 

Step one: Announce to the cabin, “I’m just the nanny. I wish I could text her mom right now.” Step two: Insert earbuds. Step three: Pacify the tot. Step four: Hum Bohemian Rhapsody loudly while rocking back and forth till landing.

Worst-Case Scenario: Airline doesn’t seat you together and you’re separated by strangers

If the strangers won’t change their seats for your family, proceed to stow your carry-ons in the overhead compartment while “accidentally” dropping baby toys on their heads. (Traveling with kids calls for drastic action.) In a loud voice, instruct your three-year-old to tap the nice lady sitting next to him on the shoulder when he needs to go number two.

Worst-Cast Scenario: Kindergartener locks himself in the plane bathroom and can’t get out

Announce on the plane phone that you need someone handy to meet you at the potty STAT. Glare at impatient travelers waiting to use the toilet. While the door is being taken apart, usher comforting words to your kiddo through the door frame. “Sweetie, I promise the toilet won’t suck you out!” 

Worst-Case Scenario: Preschooler drops lovey in the airplane toilet

My Best Self packs duplicate loveys when traveling with kids. This worst-case scenario requires every persuasive technique I learned in undergrad. My options are equally challenging: 1.) Plastic wrap the lovey and hide it 2.) Throw away the lovey 3.) Persuade the flight attendant to detox the lovey.

Worst-Case Scenario: Plane is stuck on the tarmac and you’re out of snacks

Using an eye pencil, create masks on your kids’ faces; hand them empty barf bags; announce it’s time to trick-or-treat up and down the aisles. If that idea feels tacky, try caroling instead and change “bring us some figgy pudding” to “share your fruit snacks with us please.” Holiday travel at its best.

When the worst happens on the road, I try to laugh and make eye contact with other moms. I usually get a sympathetic smile. Thankfully, traveling with kids for the holidays occurs only once a year.

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