For many, the holiday season represents family, unity and a time for giving thanks. However, the holidays can also become incredibly stressful, especially when managing logistics for family gatherings or traveling with small children.

Every parent knows that holiday travel can quickly turn from pleasant to disastrous at any moment. It could be a sister’s pinch, a brother’s snide comment or even a growling tummy that sets it off. Have no fear, parents who may be dreading the holiday travel season, because our DTN team has compiled 5 tips for traveling with children in the car:


There have been numerous studies that have proven the positive and calming effects of music. Before you leave on your trip, sit down as a family and make a travel playlist. To spice up the fun, vote on a title for the album, such as “The Jackson Family’s Jingle Bell Roadtrip Playlist – Christmas 2014.” Be sure to include every family member in the brainstorming process, so that even the littlest ears feel included in the entertainment selections. We have a few ideas to help get you started.


A road trip isn’t a road trip without any fun! Include the kids in car games to break up the monotony of the open road. As a child, my sister and I would often have drawing contests. My parents would choose a subject or scene, and we would compete (using travel white boards on our lap) to design the best drawing. Of course, iPads and tables provide some fabulous options in today’s age, including the app Kids Doodle, available on iTunes and Google Play. Tired of drawing? No problem! Our DTN team has compiled a few other game ideas for your family.


Before embarking on your trip, be sure to plan accordingly. GPS travel time can be significantly influenced when children or pets are included on the road trip. Factor in potty breaks ahead of time, so as to ensure your family has ample time to stretch their legs and get fresh air. Restaurant selections should also be pre-determined to avoid any bickering on the road. Avoid complaints like, “Are we thereeeee yet?” by teaching lessons of patience through gentle reminders of the fun they will experience with friends and family upon arrival. Traveling up the East Coast? We invite you to explore our list of East Coast Attractions.

Secret Stash

Especially when traveling with young children, it is not a bad idea to keep a few tricks treats up your sleeve. Gather a few of their favorite belongings, such as a favorite doll or pacifier, and bring it out from hiding to calm nerves or ease tears. Healthy snacks, like fruit and cheerios, can also be a cure for grumpy attitudes on the road.

For elementary and middle school children, a reward system works well. Before you embark on your journey, plan a few special rewards. (IE: 1-10 points can be redeemed for ice cream, 11-20 points can be redeemed for an iTunes album or app, and 21-30 points may be used for a pizza party with their friends.) Then, tell your children that they will receive a point for each good behavior or kind gesture. Alternatively, let them know that points will be deducted for poor behavior, sassy remarks or complaints. Points can then be accumulated throughout the trip and redeemed for rewards upon arrival.


On any trip, safety should be the foremost concern. Before leaving, prepare your vehicle for Winter driving and be sure your children understand the importance of child passenger safety. It’s also a wise idea to review child car seat safety guidelines yourself to ensure all car seats are safely and properly installed. Additionally, don’t be afraid to discuss the dangers of distracted driving with your children and let them know that shrieks, fighting and loud crying will not be tolerated at any time.

Traveling with children can be stressful, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. With a bit of advanced planning, parents can set the tone of the trip ahead of time. Do you have any tips for traveling with children? We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share your ideas with us in the comments below.