Whether you’re driving or flying to Grandma’s house this Christmas, here are a few helpful hints to keep your family safe, sound, and sane.
Traveling by plane
- If your child experiences in-flight ear pain, offer a bottle, sippy cup or pacifier to encourage swallowing. For older children, try a lollipop or chewing gum to relieve inner ear pressure.
- Pack finger foods that are age-appropriate. Treats – fruit, cereal and pretzels – may help children adjust to pressure changes.
- Easily identify your family at the airport by dressing in matching colors.
- Always keep a recent photo of your children in your wallet or on your phone – in case you need help locating them in a crowded area.
- Have small kids? Write your cell phone number on the tag of their clothes.
Traveling by automobile, train or bus
- Make sure car safety seats are properly installed in your vehicle, including rental cars.
- Insist automobile passengers remain buckled-up for the trip.
- 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 stretch as well as play.
- Write favorite songs on slips of paper and mix in a bag. Take turns and have each child pull a slip from the bag. Then sing the song written on the paper.
- Play educational games. The license plate game is popular on cross-country adventures. 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 figure out where they are; how much farther; and what’s the next town. Each child gets a map and a highlighter to track the adventure.
- Prepare surprise packets. When kids become antsy, give them a small wrapped stocking stuffer to open. Plan for two a day per child. Include items such as books; travel games, small toys or favorite snacks.
- 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 everyone
- Bring a variety of juices, water and nutritious snacks.
- To prevent dehydration, give plenty of fluids and foods that are easy to digest.
- Children with medical concerns should carry their own identification, whether it’s a medical necklace or an identification card. Include your cell phone number, physician’s name and number and the child’s medical concerns.
- Bring a list of your child’s medications (or take pictures of the labels) and allergies.
- Buy hand sanitizer – it works without water and is perfect for cleaning hands when you can’t find a restroom. Keep “wet wipes” in your bag too!
- Have children pack their own backpack so they can bring favorite toys, books and music.
- Pack each child’s clothes in gallon size plastic bags. Inside each bag, marked with each child’s name, is one day’s change of clothes. All kids have to do is reach into the suitcase and grab a bag.