“Knowing what to expect and offering lots of choices is the key to a successful trip,” says Chantelle Bennett, child life manager, with Florida Hospital.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, here are a few tips to help keep your sanity.
- If you fly, have younger children’s ears checked before you leave. Nobody wants to travel with a child who has an ear infection. If a child experiences in-flight ear pain, encourage swallowing by offering a bottle or pacifier to young children and a lollipop or gum to older children.
- To prevent dehydration (Traveler’s Diarrhea), give plenty of fluids and foods that are easy to digest, such as sports drinks and water.
- Children with medical concerns should carry their own identification, whether it be a medical necklace or an identification card. Include your telephone number, the physician’s name and number and the child’s medical concerns.
- Buy hand sanitizer – it works without water and is perfect for cleaning hands when you can’t find a restroom.
Activities – Provided by the Child Life Team
- Play games. The license game is popular on cross-country journeys. Preschoolers can learn colors by identifying the colors of cars. Or, use letters of the alphabet to identify things seen through the windows.
- Use a map to track your progress. School-aged kids can answer questions such as, where are we; how much farther; and what’s the next town. Give each child a map and a highlighter.
- There’s nothing like a good long stretch to relieve car seat cramps. Look for parks, rest stops and other locations that offer a chance to stand up as well as an opportunity to play. Rule of thumb: a 20-minute break for every two hours on the road – especially with little ones.
- Bring water, juice and nutritious snacks.
- Write favorite songs on slips of paper and mix in a bag. Then have each child pull a slip of paper from the bag. Everyone in the car has to sing the song that’s written on the paper.
- Have children pack their own backpack so they can bring favorite toys, books and music.
- Prepare surprise packets. Wrap small prizes like presents and when the kids become antsy, give them an item to open. Plan for two a day – one midmorning, the other mid-afternoon. Include items such as books, travel games, snacks and small toys.
- Pack finger foods – like fruit, pretzels and cereal – to enjoy. These items may help kids adjust to airplane in-cabin pressure changes. For younger kids, use bottles, sippy cups or pacifiers to help ease inner ear pressure. For older kids, use chewing gum.
- Occupy kids with edible jewelry. Bring sweetened cereal rings and string licorice. They can string cereal on the licorice and make bracelets and necklaces. When they get hungry, they can snack off their finished products.
Tips For Mom & Dad
- Pack each child’s clothes in gallon size plastic bags. Inside each bag, marked with the child’s name, is one day’s change of clothes. All kids have to do is reach into the suitcase and grab a bag. This eliminates the digging and hunting and cries when they can’t find everything.
- Always keep a recent photo of your children in your wallet or on your phone – in case you loose them in a crowed area, and need help in locating them.
- To easily identify your family at the airport, dress everyone in matching colors.