Traveling during the busy holiday season can be stressful for anyone, but traveling with kids tends to be even more…well, exciting. Most parents will discover that children display the extremes of their normal emotions when on vacation. At some points they will be incredibly excited as they meet new friends and family and explore fun places, but at others they will be more tired than ever or apprehensive about the unfamiliar people, places and things. Try to focus on those positive moments and do this to limit the not-so-positive ones:
- Always allow extra time to avoid stressful situations and do your best to be flexible.
- Have healthy snacks available at all times for long car rides or flights or for meals that are not to their liking.
- Bring a selection of small toys or games to entertain them and offer them one at a time to keep them interested. Screens can also come in handy for longer journeys.
- Bring a supply of hand wipes to use before snack time or to wipe down surfaces (or dirty kids)
- If kids are packing their suitcases or backpacks, double-check them before departure to make sure they aren’t bringing their rock collection.
- Bring daily medications and a first aid kit (Polysporin antibiotic ointment for small wounds, Hydrocortisone 1% cream for itchy skin or insect bites, vaseline or Aquaphor, SPF 30 sunscreen, bandages, Tylenol, and Benadryl).
- If your child is still in a car seat, arrange to rent or borrow the appropriate device at your destination if it is not feasible to bring yours along. Review the FAA’s guide on flying with children.
- Plan bathroom breaks every two hours, and bring plenty of diapers for babies and consider pull-ups for newly potty-trained toddlers (just in case!).
- To avoid ear discomfort during take-off and landing if you fly, have your child chew gum/gummy candy, drink through a straw if they are old enough, or bottle-feed/nurse if they are an infant.
- Make sure that anywhere you are staying is sufficiently child proofed and that children cannot access pools or other bodies of water.
- Lastly, make sure to schedule downtime, dine early and don’t overdo it.
May your travels be safe and filled with cheer. Happy Holidays!
By Jackie Phillips, MD