Traveling with Kids for the Holidays?

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It’s that time of year, “the most wonderful time of the year.”  Except the song really should go- 

“When the kids are exhausted and everyone’s traveling and flights are delayed…. it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Guys, Thanksgiving is in 2 weeks!

We recently flew across the county with two toddlers, and I can tell you only two things saved me- Melissa and Doug and our iPad.  

Here are my top Melissa and Doug favorites for air travel sanity. 

  1. On the Go Water Wow! Water painting made easy.  All you have to do is fill the paintbrush with a little water from your water bottle, and your kids can paint on the plane. There is NO mess, and the pages dry quickly for repeat painting. 
  2. Re-useable Sticker Pads! These pads include multiple backdrops with tons of re-usable stickers. My son loves these and will sometimes sit at our kitchen table for 45mins pretending and making new scenes.  This is perfect for the plane!  Purchase a new pad if you have one already to make it more fun and captivating on the plane ride. 
  3. Make-a-face Sticker Pads! Unlike the re-usable pad, these are paper pads where you kids add stickers of different eyes, noses, mouths, etc to different characters. Allow your kids full range of creativity to make animals, princesses, or crazy faces. Again, these are not that expensive, so buy a new one for your trip! My sons loves making these crazy characters and then passing them out to our family members. 
  4. Tape Activity Book!  Tape is huge in our household. Seriously, a roll of scotch tape and some paper will keep a creative toddler happy.  That’s why when I saw this activity book where you add colored tape to different designs, I knew my son would love this. And he did. The tape looks and feels like painter’s tape, so it is easy to remove from the book, allowing  kids to do the designs over and over again!


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Ok let’s talk headphones. If your child is old enough, a movie on the iPad is a perfect distraction. You just need to purchase kid-safe headphones, so the volume stays within a safe range. The National Institute of Health states that anything over 85 decibels is unsafe and could cause permanent hearing damage.  I have also been told that you should sit next to your child and ask them a question- they should be able to hear and answer you while still using their headphones. 

We purchased BuddyPhones by Onanoff because of their safety record and reasonable price.  (I thought my son might break them, but they held up well).  Also, you can connect multiple sets together, so this will be helpful when my younger son gets a little older. And you can personalize your headphones with stickers, and my son thought that was really cool!

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Also, a few other words of wisdom:  Don’t be afraid to bring your child’s car seat on the plane. Purchase a caddy, and pull that seat through the airport. Trust me, if your kid is too wiggly to hold and not old enough to sit in the seat alone… the car seat is your best friend. They just might even fall asleep!


Finally, if you are traveling to your family’s house- ask them to pick up some diapers and wipes for you. Or send it to them via Amazon a few days before. You can also ask them to run to the store before you arrive for milk and snacks, whatever will make your little ones happy after a long trip. 

Good Luck! You’ve got this!


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Kelly migrated to San Francisco in 2009 after living in Chicago, Florida, and growing up in Texas. She is happy now to call the Bay Area her home. She is a licensed Physician Assistant and previously worked in OBGYN and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. With the support of her husband and college sweetheart, Rob, she took a break from medicine to do something more creative! In addition to running San Francisco Moms Blog, Kelly is mommy to Mr. Gavin and Mr. Byron. She is happy to be the princess of the house! When she is not working or chasing her boys, she loves cooking, college football, and spending time and traveling with her family.


  1. This is really helpful!!!

    How did your younger son do? I am most worried about the plane with my 15 month old since it’s really hard to engage him in anything for that long! Any advice is welcome!!!!!

    • He was great! He slept, we read books, and I bought small quiet toys for him to play with. He also loves to color, so the crayola Color Wonder markers and a Mickey Wonder coloring book were a huge hit!


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