With the holidays approaching, many of you may be preparing to travel across the country or overseas to spend the holidays with family. The holidays are about coming together; however, travel can be an expensive, time-consuming, stress-inducing exercise without proper preparation. When planning to travel over the holidays with your children, it’s important to include them in the planning and preparation early on, as well as throughout the vacation.

Tips for Preparing Children for Holiday Travel

  • Involve your children early on. Help children feel invested in your holiday travel planning. If you’ll be visiting family for a while, offer your children five possibilities of activities to do while you are there or places you want to visit in town, and then let them choose from those structured, pre-approved choices. Maybe there’s a children’s museum by your parents’ house that would be a good afternoon outing, or a large holiday light display that would be fun to see with the whole family. Select at least one activity from each child’s wish list, depending on your time and budget.

  • Let your children know the rules. Discuss appropriate travel behavior well in advance. Explain how the house rules at your parents’ house or their aunt Jenny’s house might be different from your home, but that they are still expected to mind their manners.

  • If traveling on a plane, try to schedule overnight flights so that your children are more likely to sleep the flight away.

  • Bring a variety of familiar favorites on flights. Help create a comfort zone for your kids on the plane and keep them busy by bringing along their favorite snacks, favorite quiet toys, favorite books, and favorite blanket.

  • Have reasonable expectations. Children get cranky and tired; don’t let their mood swings discourage you.

  • Plan well, but pack a go-with-the-flow attitude. Schedule as much as you can beforehand, but once your travels are underway, come to expect the unexpected – a suddenly tired child, transportation delays, unplanned but exciting detours — and go with the flow. Flexibility, along with a positive attitude, can go a long way.

  • Don’t overdo it. The holidays can be a busy time, especially when you are visiting family and trying to make plans with friends and relatives while you are in town visiting. Be sure to plan enough rest and relaxation time during your holiday travels, as well as time to recover from any jet lag. And remember that while you may be familiar with many of the faces you will see during your trip, to your children, these friends and relatives may be strangers. Holiday travels can be a lot for children to take in all at once, so watch their cues and give them lots of downtime during the holidays.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.