Tis’ the season for gathering with the people you love, celebrating togetherness, love and family. It is also the season for traveling with kiddos, which means airplane meltdowns and seemingly endless car trips. Planes, trains and automobiles… we know that traveling with young children can can present a unique set of issues. There is certainly more planning involved and more items to pack! We surveyed our communities of mamas on Instagram and Facebook, and here is some of their best advice for traveling with kids.

Do: Roll Out the Special Toys

The mamas in our community agree: the best way to keep little people engaged and busy during travel is by treating them to special toys and items that they don’t normally get to have. This doesn’t necessarily mean traveling with complicated or expensive items; the power of novelty is key here.

@klbaldacci: “My two older kids are 6 and 3 and they never get gum unless they’re on an airplane. This keeps them on their best behavior until takeoff, and then it keeps them happy during the flight.”

@elise.dboyd: “One thing we used recently were boxes of children’s band aids. They were obsessed with opening them, and it killed a ton of time.

@vastiester: “We have a 99 cents store where I will purchase school-art supplies for the trip, new cute toiletries for them, maybe some accessories that they need, and toys only if they are durable and won’t break 30 seconds later.”

Don’t: Let Yourself Get Hangry

Imagine you’re in a chaotic environment (like say, an airport) and you’ve been rushing around all day (packing, last minute errands, getting everyone ready to go) when your tummy growls. Suddenly you realize you let yourself get hungry. You feel crabby, you’re having trouble focusing, and everything is irritating you. Sound familiar? This is where the Whole30 habit of always having some on-the-go food with you comes in handy. Pack wholesome snacks and drinks, so that you and your family will be fueled throughout the trip. Many children manage their behavior best when they’re well-nourished. Let’s be honest: most parents do too!

@vastiester: “We have 4 kids. The oldest is 9 and the youngest is 1. I go to a natural food store that sells bulk nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I can get small amounts of a variety of things. Each child likes different snacks so I try to accommodate that. I also pop over to an overstock-type store that usually has all-natural snacks and drinks at markdown prices.”

@Justkarissadawn: “I have a two year old son. For us snacks are the make-or-break. Which also means type of snack, not just food to give him. He is better behaved off baby carrots and tangerines than he is off a granola bar and a cookie.”

Do: Build in Breaks

While some families can do it, most prefer not to drive through the night or go full-steam ahead with no stopping. Rather, build in some downtime. It may make your trip a bit longer, but everyone will be more comfortable throughout the trip. Do your research before you go and find a town along your route where you can stop for a meal or hit up a grocery store salad bar. Get out of the car and let everyone move around instead of going a drive-thru (and tossing fries throughout the car). In the airport, take advantage of a layover or a long delay to move around! If you have babies or toddlers, this is an opportunity to get them cleaned up, and possibly even changed into PJs for the last leg of travel.

@jacklindsandtwins: “We travel often with our identical twin girls! In just two years they have been on a couple dozen flights, a sailing trip, and their longest road trip was Florida to Minnesota. We give them breaks to run and let out energy wherever possible, whether in a quiet terminal at the airport or or at rest stops or parks [on road trips].”

Michelle M: “Stop more than you would usually to let baby out of car seat. The longer we went in the car without a break the more antsy our lil’ man got.”

Don’t: Worry About What Other People Think

No matter how well you plan and prepare, sometimes you just can’t avoid the meltdown. This can be especially stressful during airplane travel. You don’t want to be the mama with a screaming toddler on the 10pm cross-country flight, but sometime’s is unavoidable and it is not your fault. The other passengers will be okay, and you’ll all make it to your destination eventually. When things start falling apart, take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale. Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Try to find the humor in the situation: the diaper blow out, the delayed flight or the toddler meltdown? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination.

@snaxy “My husband works for the airlines so we fly quite a bit. I’ve got plenty of stories! I just flew cross country with my 3 kids (5, 3.5 and 9 month old) without my husband. My biggest tip is keep your cool. Kids feed off your energy and if you’re rushed, stressed and frustrated, they will be too! Don’t worry about the dirty looks you may get, just smile and keep going.

Do you have any traveling-with-kiddos tips to share? We would love to hear them! Email [email protected]