Remember the good old days when you grabbed your bathing suit and sunglasses and ran out the door? For parents, those days are most likely long gone. Traveling with young children poses some unique challenges. Here are some helpful tips to keep your travels low stress and fun.
If you’re driving
If traveling by car, your vehicle will need to become your part-time kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and playroom. Stock-up appropriately! It’s helpful to keep an extra supply of necessities in the trunk at all times, such as diapers, wipes, a blanket, non-perishable foods and a small cooler. If you are a nursing mother, you might consider keeping a hand pump in the glove box in case you get caught in traffic. Be sure that all infants and children less than two are rear-facing and your child is in an appropriate car seat for their height and weight. If you have questions regarding car seats, check out this resource provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
During your road trip, plan for a short break every 2-3 hours to stay ahead of your children’s needs with diaper changes and snacks. Coordinating your departure times with nap time can also make for a more peaceful ride. Try entertaining with a surprise of new toys or games to melt the hours away and ward off all of the “are we there yets?” Don’t be afraid to bust out a few good old fashioned games of I Spy or My father owns a grocery store. These games have been successful since the days of Model T Fords!
If you’re flying
Plane travel is a whole different ballgame with children. The key to success is being as organized as possible. It is more difficult to get through security and baggage check with a child or two in tow, so be sure to arrive at the airport earlier than usual. Also, give the airline a call before you leave to see if they make any special regulations for children. If you plan on traveling abroad, check with your pediatrician to see if there are any extra immunizations recommended for your child or if they need to take any preventative medicines.
Most airlines let children under 2 fly for free and consider them lap children, though some people prefer to pay for an extra ticket so their child can have a seat. You can even purchase special airplane seats for babies if you are going to be flying frequently.
Here are a few tips for making plane travel easier:
- If you plan on taking your child in your lap, check your car seat with your baggage. Most airlines let you do it for free. This way you don’t have to lug it around the airport with you. Also, bring a large plastic trash bag to place it in so it doesn’t get damaged.
- Bring a stroller with you through security and check it at the gate. This way your child can have a break from being held and you can run faster through the airport of necessary (although we hope you don’t have to)
- Bring plenty of snacks (for the kids and for mom and dad. Life is easier when your belly is full)
- Nurse your baby or offer a pacifier to help with equalizing pressure during take-off and landing. If your child is older, have them eat a snack, chew gum or drink from a straw. Always bring some Tylenol or Motrin along on the plane just in case they have a hard time.
- Sometimes it is nice to bring a small travel pillow so your infant or child can nap easier on the plane.
- Don’t get too stressed if your child is having a hard time or is fussy. Most people have been there and are very understanding!