The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling with Children Part One
It is not uncommon to hear parents-to-be, or parents in general, talking about how they can’t travel with their children. The good news is, taking the kids is not impossible, and by following a few dos and don’ts it can go rather smoothly. Whether you plan on flying, taking a road trip or spending a few nights in a hotel, planning ahead is crucial.
Don’t expect to carry your child and your luggage the entire time you are at the airport.
No matter how small your child is, they will get heavy and you will need to have you arms free at times. If you don’t have a wearable baby sling it’s a great investment. Not only will it be handy at the airport, but it is great for all aspects of your trip.
Do make yourself aware of how far you will be walking when you arrive at the airport and bring the appropriate child carriers.
Most airports have maps available on their websites, but if that is not an accessible, call them and ask for approximations.
Don’t over pack your bags.
Keeping track of and carrying the little ones will literally have your hands full. If there was ever a time to travel light, it is when you are bringing kids along. To save some space, consider renting the needed child equipment. Car seats and strollers are often available to rent by travelers. If renting is what you opt to do, take measures to make sure the equipment is sanitized.
Do make lists of everything you and the children will need.
Key word here is need! Make sure the carry-on bags are stocked with the proper snacks and beverages for your child. Other very important items to bring for the kids are things that will keep them occupied for the duration of the flight. Portable DVD players, tablets with downloaded content and whatever comforts your child are all recommended. The goal here is to avoid boredom.
Don’t surprise you little traveler with the flight.
Some children will be very scared of flying. If you consider the entire process, it can be very overwhelming for an adult, let alone a child!
Do prepare your child for traveling on an airplane.
Explain to them what happens from start to finish. Prepare them for the noises, security checks and feeling of being on a plane. If your little one has motion sickness consider calling a doctor and getting medication to help with their nausea.
I highly recommend visiting tsa.gov for specifics on what can be brought on a plane and the security procedures for children under thirteen. Children over thirteen will be subject to the same security procedures as an adult.
Don’t expect to be in the car for any longer than 12 hours while traveling with a child.
If you chose to drive somewhere that is further than 12 hours away, plan on staying overnight and letting your children get out and play, stretch their legs and sleep comfortably.
Do plan stops accordingly.
Stopping at a playground and to have lunch at the trip’s halfway point is a smart idea. This breaks up the drive and gives them a chance to get some energy out. In addition, make sure you plan bathroom breaks accordingly. This goes for kids still in diapers as well. You will want them to be comfortable, so stop to change them frequently.
Don’t expect the same arrival time that the GPS is telling you.
It is just not possible to drive straight through when kids are along for the ride, they have smaller bladders and attention spans! They also have to ride in a more constricting seat.
Do plan on leaving home earlier.
Make it a good old road trip! Leave with plenty of time for stress free driving. Road trips are a great time to connect with family or whoever maybe with you. Play games that involve interacting. Plan a road trip scavenger hunt or play games like ‘I Spy.’ You will be pleasantly surprised by how these simple, verbal games entertain and bring joy to kids.
Don’t pick a hotel when you arrive at your destination.
Surprisingly, a lot of hotels are not child friendly. There are certain features that children need, such as a crib or a mini fridge to store breast milk.
Do call the hotel ahead of time and ask for specifics.
If the children are old enough, they may enjoy a pool. You may want to consider adjoining rooms if you are with your partner and would like some alone time. Also consider a hotel that is not completely booked. Advise the staff you will be traveling with children. If they are smart, they will be accommodating to make sure both your group’s and other guest’s comfort. The kids will have a lot of energy and it will be impossible for them to be perfectly well behaved the entire time.
Don’t leave children unattended anywhere in the hotel.
This includes the hallway, the pool and your room. The hotel should feel like your home for the length of your stay but leaving children by themselves anywhere within the hotel is a safety hazard.
Do child proof your room.
Bring outlet covers, make sure electrical cords are out of sight and be sure you know how to properly lock the door and your child is not able to unlock it themselves. Anything you would do to make a room in your house safe for a child to play in, do the same to your hotel room. No one can have eyes on a child at all times.
Planning and doing your research ahead of time is the hard part of traveling with children. Take the time to do it, and you will find that bringing them along is not as scary as you perceive it to be.