Going away whilst you have an elf visitor? We share ideas for how to travel with elf on the shelf and keep the magic intact.

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Starfish on Beach with Elf & Santa Hat - travel with elf featured image

OK, confession time.  I have spent far more time than any grown woman should debating how to handle our elf visitor when it comes to going away. 

I realised some time ago that I am fastidious bordering crazy about keeping the elf on the shelf story intact. 

As a parent, we manage to fumble our way through all sorts of misdemeanours.  And there are certainly far (far!) more important issues in life than whether elf moved half an inch or was caught by the edge of a fingernail.

But, having committed to an elf visitor in our home some years ago, I’ve found myself completely invested in keeping the magic alive.  That being said, please read on with your tongue firmly in your cheek as this article does not take itself too seriously (and in fact caused laughing bordering on hysteria by Jo when she reviewed it!)!!

Behind The Scenes

Travel With Elf Friends

Now, we’re a family that travels a lot.  So it was inevitable that December would include days (and some nights!) away from home.  And hence ‘elf travel management’ was high on my agenda to resolve!  Having now navigated this every year (save for 2020), I thought I’d share a few tricks of the trade that may be of assistance to you.

How you choose to handle travel with your elf will of course be dependent on a whole host of factors including the length of your trip, where you’re going, how much energy you want to direct towards this and how invested your children are in their elf visitor to begin with!

Elf on a Suitcase

Below you’ll find the method we’ve used for years now, enabling our elf to come along on our travels.

But if it all seems too much effort – a completely reasonable thought process!!! – I’ve also shared some other approaches which I wish I’d thought of, or known about, earlier. 😉

Yes I Am Suitably Embarrassed To Have Given This A Name!

The Two Bag Elf Travel Method

Before I start … I know I have given this too much thought!  Please try not to judge me too harshly –it all came from a place of wanting the magic to stay intact for our sons.  And actually it’s really not as tricky as it sounds and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the boys’ wonder each time. 

So if you’d like to give the impression that your elf is travelling magically alongside you, then this method hasn’t failed us yet.

Elf in a Paper Bag
  1. Think about your elf’s position the night before the day of travel. You’ll want them easy to grab but ideally tucked away in a less busy part of the house / hotel room / etc  (in a hotel room, we normally use the bathroom for arrivals and departures)
  2. Upon departure, as everyone steps out of the door, you will suddenly remember something you need to check (perhaps once everyone is safely in the car). Maybe a window was left open or there’s a last minute comfort break required…
  3. Heading back into the house, ensure you have two small bags with you. These bags must NOT be see-through(!) and ideally would be made from a quiet material (yes, I know, too much thought but you’ll thank me come part five!)
  4. Wrap Elfie up in one bag and then place that into the second, making the package as small as possible. Place it in a secure pocket, at the bottom of a handbag or equivalent.  (If travelling by place, be sure to keep your elf in hand luggage in case of mishaps.)
  5. Upon arrival at the other end, feign a desperate bathroom need as quickly as possible and dash in with bag in tow, locking the door. Set your elf friend up as fast as you can, ideally somewhere you could have missed in your rush to answer the call of nature –behind a shower curtain, on a low shelf, behind a towel, you get the idea.

Now hide the bags and relax –your job is done. 

It’s up to you whether you go the whole hog and give a squeal of excitement at your bathroom discovery, or just leave Elfie to be discovered by the young folk in due course.   

But your elf is now installed safely in your holiday location.  For the return home, simply repeat the process. 

Elf Goodbye Letter

Ease farewell sadness with this special elf goodbye letter. Complete with free printable pdf ready for your little ones on Christmas morning. 

In Case You Are Still Reading 😉

Other Ideas for Travelling Whilst Hosting An Elf

If this article has managed to wind its way to similar souls and you are still reading, then please do continue for ideas of how to manage Elfie whilst away and ideas for leaving them at home.

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1. Elf Hotel Room Ideas

Should you have decided to give the two-bag elf travel method a go, then you may well be wondering what to do with your elf whilst you’re away. You’ll likely be more limited with elf activities than you would be at home.

As we have followed the no-touch rule very closely (of course 😉), we have tended to be quite conservative in elf locations on holiday.  Some that have worked for us:

  • On the window sill
  • Tucked at the edge of the mirror/TV
  • Inside the cupboard / safe
  • Around the bathroom (especially of course for arrival and departure)
  • In a coffee/tea cup

It’s worth leaving an explanatory note for any housekeepers, together with perhaps a little thank you gift as you depart for any added inconvenience.

Elf sitting on Shelf

2. Elf Carrying Facility

If a concealment transfer method for Elfie seems too stressful, then why not do the complete opposite. 

Find a large jar or other clear container and create a safe travel method for your elf to use.  Encourage your little ones to let Elfie know the day before.  Or they could even write a note to their elf visitor explaining (a great way to keep young folk busy whilst you’re packing?!) 

The night before departure, your elf will ‘magically’ set themselves up in their new travel home and now they can be safely carried around and brought along for the ride.

You may also choose to keep your elf in their travel home the whole time you’re away (to avoid worries about accidental movement by hotel staff for example).  Instead, focus Elfie’s daily changes on dressing up for the holiday inside the container, or perhaps doing little activities inside (e.g. eating marshmallows or making toilet paper snowballs).  Or Elfie can just have their own holiday chilling in situ!

Last Minute Christmas Eve Box Idea

Looking to join in with this new tradition but don’t have much time or budget? We share some simple DIY Christmas Eve Box ideas so you can create your own quickly and cheaply!

3. Special Assignment from Santa

If you’d prefer not to have to worry about looking after an elf whilst you’re away, then why doesn’t Santa give your elf a special task to complete whilst you travel?  They can be there to welcome you back home. 

Ideally ask a neighbour to move Elfie to a new position ready for your return.  If that’s not possible, you could always take a small leaf out of the two-bag approach above and find an excuse to head back indoors at the last minute before leaving to move elf yourself.

4. Elfies From Home

Elfie on Mobile Phone

A variation on leaving your elf visitor at home.  Perhaps they are going to keep an eye on the house whilst you’re away. 

In which case, why not take a handful of “elfies” before you leave which magically appear on your phone each morning from a mystery number (either a friend or someone with their phone’s ID withheld) so your little ones can enjoy some elf mischief from afar.

How do you manage December travel with your elf?  Looking for more elf-spiration?   Check out our other articles –> here.

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