10 tips for traveling with kids

Written by admin on March 2, 2009 – 8:51 pm -

Traveling with children is often the most rewarding, not to mention necessary, ways to take a vacation. But the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared” takes on new and more creative meaning.

Forgetting things such as a favorite teddy bear, blanket or a night-light can cause the most well-behaved children to have meltdowns.

Times have changed radically since my nearly 40-year-old son and I took vacations. Today, the travel industry offers cruises and all inclusive package vacations catering to families, plus  resorts with camp programs target tots to teens and offers activities for all ages.

Still, you need to be prepared:

1. Plan for plane trip
Be sure to have water, juices, snacks, small toys, coloring materials, wipes, tissues, and body lotion (dry air  cause children to be itchy especially when sitting still all the time). Bring an extra blanket, an extra pair of socks that you can toss since there’s invariably yuck on airplanes’ floors. A portable DVD player (with movies the child has selected) can save your trip and your sanity.

2. Remember rest stops when traveling by car
Time goes slowly and be sure to factor in enough B&R breaks (bathroom and recreation stops). Children should stop approximately every two hours (unless they’re sleeping) to visit the bathrooms and run off some energy. Pack a picnic lunch (and snacks). You’ll be glad you did if you’re trapped by fast food places on highways. Bring extra wipes and an extra change of clothes in the event of an unanticipated disaster for a member of younger set. Look for rest-stops with playgrounds.

3. Look for family-friendly accommodations
Try to rent an apartment or a residential suite. If not, be sure the room has a refrigerator. If you’re renting two rooms, be sure there’s a connecting door between the two.

Don’t make yourself a slave to room service that may or may not be functioning or cost a fortune.  When you arrive at a destination, go to the grocery store and stock up on snacks, fruit, bread, peanut butter and a few other jars of edibles and have them available for your children without having to wait. My son survived on bowls of Raisin Bran, bananas with milk for days and did so more times than I care to remember. When we traveled to strange and “exotic” destinations, I knew he wouldn’t starve.

4. Don’t forget car seats and strollers
Be sure there are car seats available. If not, drag your own.  Bring an umbrella stroller if your child is of that age when he or she can’t or shouldn’t be expected to keep up. Anticipate that children become increasing tired in unfamiliar environments.

5. Pack enough clothes, but not too many
Life is easier when you have easy access to a washer and a dryer. Bring enough clothes but not so many that you need to pay for extra luggage or break your back transporting it.

6. Include the needed extras
Don’t forget sunscreen if you’re going to a sunny destination and a hat. Pack extra zip-lock plastic bags. More than likely, you’ll find numerous uses (some unanticipated ones) for the bags.

7. Bring a personal suitcase or backpack
Each traveler should have his or her own. Be sure you can survive if you arrive without your suitcase and you have the essentials to tide you over. Children should have input into what goes into their carry-on bags. Play the “what’s the most important things I need game.”

8. Double-check medications
Be certain you have what your child (as well as you) need in the carry-on in the event suitcases are delayed. Pack a mini-drug store plus prescriptions with the medications’ molecular breakdowns. If your child gets sick, vacation time isn’t the ideal time to be experimenting with new drugs. Even allergy pills in different counties may not be the same and why chance ruining a trip?

Do buy evacuation insurance and have enough cash in the event you need to return home quickly.

9. Stay in charge
If you’re headed to an unfamiliar destination or your child’s schedule will be thrown off. It’s up to the parents (or travel companions) to stay rested and well grounded. Children need their parents or companions to be steady and be their life-lines.

10. Do not over plan
Leave time for serendipity and plain and simple enjoyment. That includes time for the parents or the caregivers to take a night or two off on their own and know their children will be 100 percent cared for and well.

These are a few ideas. There are many more. Please post them. Now that I’m a grandmother, I need all of the help and possible advice I can get. Traveling is something I want and aim to share with my two granddaughters. And we won’t be staying at the Ritz.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.


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