Summer is here and for many families, this means vacation time. But traveling with little ones can present challenges. Carrie Little from Family & Children’s Services shares information to help families get the most out of their vacations. Traveling with kids can be hard work.
However, by treating the trip like an adventure, annoyances, missteps and mishaps simply become small obstacles to overcome. If you get stressed when you can't find your hotel, or your plane is delayed, your kids will get stressed too. When you think of it as "exploring the neighborhood" or "extra discovery time," everyone will feel better.
There are specific things that parents need to remember to bring when traveling with small children such as medication, baby wipes and other helpful items.
· Medication, especially for kids. It's always a good idea to travel with some children's Tylenol (or whatever you prefer) so that you don't have to worry about finding a drug story or buying meds at outrageous, resort prices. Consider, too, small containers of cough syrup or allergy medicine.
· Baby wipes. Even if your kid has been out of diapers for years, baby wipes are invaluable when traveling. They’re good for cleaning hands, faces, door handles – almost anything. On a hot day you can even wipe your face and neck with them to cool down.
· Other: a small container of special travel detergent so you can use your hotel sink to clean kid’s clothes or a stain stick. Zip-top storage bags have thousands of uses and take up hardly any space. Bring a variety of sizes if you can. A small, sturdy nightlight can help turn a scary hotel room into a friendly space. And don’t forget your child’s favorite comfort item (a special blankey or small stuffed animal).
· Entertainment: although it is important to entertain children while traveling, forget about toys or games with lots of small parts – they’re bound to get lost. Things like a good set of portable art supplies with crayons, markers and some paper are good. Pipe-cleaners can translate into hours of entertainment. Think about bringing the favorites, too – if they can play at home with a favorite toy or game for hours, it’ll probably entertain them in the car to. Some parents also will stow away a couple of brand-new toys and present them at strategic times throughout the trip.
If your kids nap, use their schedules to your advantage. For example, if you've got a long car ride, see if try to leave an hour or so before their nap time. Most kids will entertain themselves for a little while right when you set off, and then the humming of a jet engine or lack of stimulation in the car may lull them to sleep around their normal nap time.
In order to maintain a stress-free trip, especially when flying, come up with a seating blue-print. Would an aisle seat or window work better? Do you want everyone in the same row, or does it make sense for Mom to sit with Molly and Dad to sit with Mikey because the siblings squabble?
Don’t forget about the snacks. Airlines have cut back dramatically on food service – but you can bring food aboard. Pack food ahead or stock up at the airport ahead of time. You don’t want to be stuck on the tarmac an hour after your kids’ normal dinner time with nothing to tide over their hunger.
Develop a boarding plan. Some airlines have dropped special boarding for families with small children. If that's an option for you, consider using it, especially if there is only one adult. But if your child has extra energy to expend, you may want to send one parent onto the plane with as much as he can carry first – and have the other parent wait until the last minute to board with the child, so the kid can burn off some energy running around the gate area.
Family & Children’s Services