Monday, November 28, 2011

20 Tips for Traveling with Children

Preparing For Your Trip

1. If you travel often with your children, keep a clear plastic bag filled with children’s medications that you can just throw into your suitcase. We recommend including pain reliever, teething gel (if appropriate), Benadryl, Neosporin, Cortisone, anti-bacterial wipes, and Band-aids.  And while it’s not a medical item, throw in a nightlight for children who need one.

2. For a child who is upset by a change in routine, prepare a paper chain to count down the days until your vacation and have him assist in packing. That way, he can be mentally (and physically) prepared for the trip.

3. If your child is still in diapers, pack a small bag (or foldable changing station like a Patemm Pad) filled with all changing accessories, as well as a change of clothes, in case your child has an accident. If you really like to be prepared, throw some stickers into the bag – putting a sticker on the back of your child’s hand is a great way to occupy her (and keep her hands busy and away from germy bathroom stuff) during changing.

4. Pack a separate backpack or bag for each child for which she can be responsible – even better, have her pack it herself. You (or she) can include snacks, a favorite toy or two, a lovely, a book, or any other lightweight item that will bring comfort or entertainment value! One idea -- wrap one or two small toys (from the dollar store or the like) for your child to unwrap on the plane or in the car. There is nothing to add to the excitement of a new toy than having it wrapped up like a birthday present!

5. Bring your favorite baby carrier to use while carrying your bags through the airport or using while on vacation. We love the Ergo or Baby K’tan, among others.

6. Pack small bags for trash, dirty clothes, or wet bathing suits. This is a great way to make use of your plastic grocery bags. Another product we love is the Knot It by Prince Lionheart, which is a little cylinder containing one huge bag that you can rip off and tie to make any size bag you’d like.

7. If you are going to check your bags when traveling by plane, be sure to pack a change of clothes and essential medications for your child in your carry-on. It really stinks when an airline loses a bag – it stinks even worse when your banana-covered toddler doesn’t have a change of clothes.

8. When booking airline tickets, if there will be two adults and one child on your lap, consider buying a window and aisle seat in the same row (but not the middle seat) toward the back of the plane. On a flight that’s not full, that middle seat often won’t sell and you will have a whole row in which to spread out. If it is a full flight and somebody sits there, that person is usually more than happy to switch to your window or aisle seat so that you and your partner can sit next to each other.

9. You do need a passport for your baby for international travel, and a birth certificate or other identification is necessary for domestic flights. Especially when your child nears age 2 and you have not purchased him a seat, airlines are sticklers about requiring a birth certificate to prove that your child is actually under 2.

10. Children’s ears are sensitive to pressure changes on an airplane. Where appropriate, bring a bottle or sippy cup (with a straw – better for speech development) to help your child clear her ears. Chewy snacks like raisins are also good for ears, just make sure to brush your child’s teeth well later that day.

While Traveling

1. If you are flying, when you arrive at the airport, kindly ask the agent checking you in if the flight is full. Some agents at some airlines will “block” a seat next to you if the flight isn’t full. Though it won’t have saved you from purchasing a seat, it is always nice to have room to spread out, especially with a child in tow.

2. As an alternative to the previous tip, consider booking seats apart from your partner. That way, one of you can rest while the other takes care of your child or children. Don’t forget to switch mid-flight.

3. When going through airport security or customs, be on the lookout for lines for families. They are often shorter, and perhaps more importantly, you will feel less stressed dealing with folding your stroller, managing your children, untying their shoes before going through security, etc. (though we highly recommend slip-on shoes for all!).

4. Remember that no matter how stressed you are, airline employees will always be nicer to you than they are to the person next to you screaming at them.

5. While walking through a crowded place, if you have more children than there are adult hands, tell your children to form a “family chain" or "family snake" and make a game out of everyone keeping their hands held together with no one breaking the chain.

6. Dress your child in bright or distinctive clothing to help avoid losing him in a crowd. Also, each morning of your vacation, take a photo of your child on your cell phone so that if, heaven forbid, you were to lose your child, you could show people exactly what your child looks like and what he is wearing that day.

7. When changing time zones, maintain your child’s home schedule in the new time zone. If your child typically naps at 2 p.m., have him nap at 2 p.m. wherever you’ve traveled. If bedtime is at 7 p.m., it should remain seven p.m. in the new time zone. It might be rough for the first day or two, but it will work much better over the course of the vacation.

8. When traveling to a new time zone, keep your child outside in the sun to the extent possible to get his circadian rhythms acclimated to the new time zone.

9. When you arrive at a large, crowded place, set up a meeting spot right away.  If your child gets lost, both you and she will know where to go. If your child is not old enough to find the meeting spot himself, tell him to look for a mommy with children and tell that mommy that the he is lost.

10. Always have your contact information on your child in some way.  You can use a safety pin to pin it to the inside of your child’s clothing, a sticker on her back, or a card in a pocket that zip or snaps.  (One of Capital Baby Planners’ team members once wrote her contact information in permanent marker on her child’s arm at Disney World – not so pretty, but it did the job!)

1 comment:

  1. I take two vacations with my family every year and we always fly for one of them so my kids have been flying for a few years now. My oldest is well trained and that’s because I have been having them pack a back themselves since they were 3. Now they are all seasoned travelers and it makes things easier for my wife when we travel. I am in charge of all entertainment and I never forget to bring my iPad and iPhone because we watch live or recorded TV wherever there is internet that way. My DISH Network employee Sling Adapter at home is the best thing I ever got free from DISH and not only new customers but existing customers get one free now for a limited time.