As the holiday's are approaching which means traveling for many people I thought it might be nice to post some tips for traveling with kids. Taking a trip with children can be challenging so the following are some general guidelines to consider that may make your traveling a little bit easier.
Traveling by Airplane
- Allow yourself and your family extra time to get through security - especially when traveling with younger children.
- Have children wear shoes and outer layer clothing which are easy to take off for security screening.
- Talk to your children before coming to the airport about the security screening process. Let them know that their bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) will be put in the X-ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
- Discuss the fact that it’s against the law to make threats such as; “I have a bomb in my bag.” Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can result in the entire family being delayed and could result in fines.
- Similar to travel in motor vehicles, a child is best protected on an airplane when properly restrained in a car safety seat that meets standards for aircraft and that is appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child, until the child weighs more than 40 lbs. and can use the aircraft seat belt. You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on airplanes and approved by the FAA. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as luggage (usually without baggage fees) so you have them for use in rental cars and taxis.
- Although the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. Discounted fares may be available. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats.
- Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
- In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum, drinking water or juice through a straw, or filling up a glass of water and blowing bubbles through a straw (4 years of age or older).
- Wash hands frequently, and consider bringing portable handwashing gel to prevent illnesses acquired during travel.
- Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
- Consult your pediatrician if flying within 2 weeks of an episode of an ear infection or ear surgery.
Traveling by Car
- Always use a car safety seat for infants and young children. A rear-facing car safety seat should be used until your child has reached the highest weight and/or height allowed by his car safety seat, but at a minimum until your child is at least one year of age AND weighs at least 20 pounds. It is best to ride rear-facing as long as possible. Once your child has outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit, he can ride in a forward-facing car safety seat. Updated recommendations on safe travel can be found on the AAP website: www.healthychildren.org.
- Most rental car companies can arrange for a car seat if you are unable to bring your own.
- A child who has outgrown her car safety seat with a harness (she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat) should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
- All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
- Never place a child in a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an airbag.
- Set a good example by always wearing a seat belt.
- Children often become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Try to keep them occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing soft, lightweight toys and favorite CDs for a sing-along.
- Plan to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two hours.
- Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside the car can reach deadly levels in minutes, and the child can die of heat stroke.
- In addition to a travelers’ health kit (http://www.cdc.gov/travel/other/travelers-health-kit.htm), parents should carry safe water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, and a water- and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play outside.
Are these tips useful? What other suggestions to you have about traveling with children?
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