It can be daunting to travel with children, especially if they are very young. Have no fear – there are several ways to minimize the strain on both parents and kids. With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, here are some tips for holiday travel.
Travel by Plane
I can’t tell you how many times we flew to visit family during our daughter’s first year of life. It was a lot, and we learned a few new tricks with every flight we took. Whether mobile or not, children adapt quite well to changes in their normal routine, as long as certain elements stay the same. Here are my suggestions.
1) Choose flights that occur as close to your child’s nap time as possible.
2) Try to book the bulkhead seats. It will give you extra room to put your child down before takeoff and after landing, and there won’t be any passengers in front of you (which eliminates the fear of your child kicking the seat in front of you).
3) Exhaust your child before boarding begins. If you have an infant, this could be as simple as holding him/her and walking around the gift shops in the terminal to watch what’s going on. If you have a toddler, walk with him/her through the terminal to get exercise and spot any last minute toys/snacks that might be useful during the flight.
4) Make sure you have everything you need to keep your child as happy as possible while in flight. This includes diapers, food, toys, video games, computers/tablets, pacifiers, etc. Don’t forget a change of clothes, (for you and your child)!
5) Try to hold off on bottle feeding/nursing until the plane actually takes off. Swallowing helps to keep little ears clear during the spike in elevation. This concept is also true when the plane is landing. Pacifiers and lollipops are good for this purpose!
Travel by Car
Our daughter is now a toddler, and we’ve added a baby boy to the mix. So, we have differing needs in our family when it comes to travel. Riding in the car can make for a VERY long day, but here is what we’ve learned from our road trips.
1) Get started early. The sooner you can get on the road, the better. The kids will still be groggy, the roads won’t be as crowded, and just when everyone starts to get a little antsy, it will be time to stop for breakfast.
2) If you need to stop in between meals – and you probably will – find a nice rest area. I prefer this over stopping at a gas station or fast food restaurant, because it usually has a lot of space to run around. We spend about 15 minutes or so letting our toddler explore the area and stretch her legs. And, it gets our infant out of his car seat for a while. Plus, we all get some fresh air.
3) Make sure that you have snacks and toys accessible. The last thing you want is to find out that you’ve packed the kids’ necessities in a place that cannot be reached without stopping.
4) Keep a space clear for you (or your partner) to sit if you have to get in the back seat. We have 2 car seats, but we try to keep the area between them as uncluttered as possible. Often, if my husband is the one driving, I climb in the back to sit between the kids. It gives them something (or someone) new to play with!
5) Have a video ready! Whether your vehicle is equipped with a television screen or you have to bring along your tablet, never underestimate the power of media! We try to download shows/movies that our daughter hasn’t seen, so it keeps her entertained longer. And, we space it out over the course of the day. That way, she doesn’t watch it all at once! Another option is music. We have a lot of songs that we can play in the car for our kids.