Travel Safely with Kids and Infants

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Anonymous, Rebecca M., Robbi and 3 others

Modern, responsible parents like spending quality time and doing things with their kids. That includes traveling and having fun with them while on the road or up in the air. It sounds so perfect, but is indeed very challenging. While it is doable, it requires some big planning to ensure that the kids will be comfortable and safe on the way to their destination. How do you travel safely with kids and infants, keep them happy, and keep yourself unstressed at the same time?

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Giving much thought and planning to the small details of the travel can greatly reduce parental stress. If your kids are big enough to help in the planning stage, it is even better, as they are stimulated by the thought of the experience. Knowing your children - what can keep them happy and unhappy, their sleeping patterns, and their attention span – can help make the planning more effective. Keep your trips simple enough to turn them into excited tots. This can grow in time so that you can plan more complicated trips as they grow up and learn more skills.

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Meanwhile, check in advance or make bookings early to more easily find child-friendly airlines and hotels. Know what works best for your kids. If you have a newborn or infant, it is not practical that they are taken on a long distance travel, even by plane, and even if the baby was born full-term and is healthy. They are very vulnerable to infections and stand to face a higher risk inside the enclosed plane and other public places you will go to. But if you so decide, it is doable - just make sure to research and plan well.

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Traveling with toddlers and older kids is not as easy as you think. They can easily become restless and bored. Ask family and friends or your regular travel agent for recommendations on child-friendly airlines and hotels. With the short attention spans of children and their general hyperactivity, it will be a challenge to make them stay in their seats. Make sure there will be enough entertainment and fun, child-oriented activities to keep their attention.

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Flying with Infants and Children

Air travel is considered safe for newborns, infants, and children if they have no health problems. Still, there are certain concerns that need to be considered and addressed during the preparation for travel. This is critical, as planning in advance can significantly reduce stress among the adult companions. In particular, you have to address confinement and the boredom that it incites especially during long flights, the earache that is caused by changing pressure in the cabin, and the discomforts of being cooped in a small toilet to clean up the kids.

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Take note, however, that flying is a wonderful new experience that can indeed be an exciting adventure for them. The most important thing is to focus on how their attention can be drawn to some toys, games and other new experiences.

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  1. 1
    Arrange for the best seat in the house.
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    Some parents feel that the best seat is an aisle seat up front as this provides greater room for mobility. There are other parents who prefer the last seats toward the rear nearest to the toilets. One concern at the rear, however, is that the noise level is highest here, which can be a little discomforting for the little one. If you must sit up front, inform the ticketing agent that you are traveling with a newborn so that the next seat will be booked last, and only when the flight is fully sold out.
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  2. 2
    Sling-carry your baby.
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    Think of the best and most comfortable way to carry your baby while on the plane. A sling-type baby carrier can be the most adaptable method for traveling on air with a newborn. This will allow you to carry your baby in diverse, comfortable positions. You can also nurse discreetly this way. It is an effective way to lull the baby to sleep, keep them adequately covered, and warmed by your body.
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  3. 3
    Arrange a bassinette.
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    If you have a young baby, but not exactly a newborn, or you will be flying on an international flight, for your comfort and that of the baby, request a bassinet. Look for baby-friendly airlines that can provide you with certain conveniences as you navigate long-distance travels.
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  4. 4
    Avoid colic by pre-feeding the baby.
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    It is good to feed the baby before boarding because the lower atmospheric pressure at high altitudes can cause the air in the intestines of the baby to expand. Feeding at cruising altitude can increase the intestinal air that gives the baby a feeling of being bloated. If feeding during the flight can't be avoided, give the baby small but frequent feedings. Make sure the baby has been burped if you don't want him feeling the discomfort.
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  5. 5
    Let the babies sleep during landing.
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    There are many "folk" sayings about feeding your baby upon takeoff or before landing to help adjust the ear with the changing pressure. The truth is, ear pain is more likely during the landing stage. Babies can take it better if they just go on with their sleep without you rousing or upsetting them.
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  6. 6
    Help them breathe a little easier.
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    They may manifest signs of nasal congestion due to the dry cabin air. Give their nasal passages a spritz of safe OTC nasal spray a few times during the flight to decongest those tiny air passages.
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  7. 7
    What time is the best time to fly?
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    If you are taking a short, domestic flight, it is best to time it with the baby's sleeping habits. If you are taking an international flight, why not book an overnight flight that would coincide with the baby's sleeping schedule?
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  8. 8
    Arrange ahead for children's meals.
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    This is most important if you are on an international flight and your kid has some medical condition that requires a specific diet due to allergies or celiac disease.
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  9. 9
    Arrange for help.
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    The flight attendants are ready to help. But to be sure, ask the airline for assistance, especially when you are traveling alone and you need extra hands to change nappies, prepare the formula, or to attend to your personal needs.
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  10. 10
    Dealing with the hustle and bustle at the airport.
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    1. Make them stand out. It is tactical that your kid is garbed in colorful clothes so that you can easily spot them, even in a crowd. Pinning some sort of an ID in their clothes or tucked in their pockets can also help.
    2. Get them to relax. Playing can be a relaxing activity for your child. Do not come rushing to the airport at the last minute, stressing yourself and your kid as well. Make sure to arrive earlier so that your kid can run around for a while and feel relaxed when you board in the aircraft.
    3. Note the nappy change or toilet trip. Rather than do it in the space-challenged plane toilet, you can change your kid's nappy before boarding. Bigger kids can be asked if they want to use the toilet before boarding. Take note of their daily schedule so that you do not need to do extra "smelly work" in the plane seat when the "inevitable" happens.
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  11. 11
    Other Flying Concerns
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    1. Ear pain in children during the flight. The discomfort can be more pronounced during descent. It helps to swallow to ease the pressure in the middle so make your child eat or drink something. Babies can be made to suck on a bottle or nurse or suck, while bigger kids can be offered chewing gum.
    2. Hypoxia while flying. Hypoxia can be experienced by kids with lung problems or chronic heart issues during flight. Turbulence or a crash can trigger hypoxia. It is important that kids at risk for this disorder are assessed by a doctor in advance to determine their fitness.
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Travelling By the Road

There is a more exciting way to get to places that a lot or people have already forgotten, with airfares becoming cheaper: Road trips. With the comfortable makes of RVs (recreational vehicles), SUVs (sports utility vehicles), and vans, life on the road can be more exhilarating. If you are travelling with bigger kids who love adventure, this is definitely a good way to see the outdoors and the world.

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Taking your own vehicle with the family offers you greater control. You can stop anywhere you want; that is so important when kids and infants are on board. To make the best of this experience, prepare ahead. Don't get yourself caught with serious car problems, for example, in the middle of nowhere. Here are some ways to safely travel with kids and infants:

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  1. 1
    How's your car.
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    Your vehicle is the most important piece of equipment that will take you to where you want to go. Make sure that it is in perfect, not just good, condition to do cross-country runs. It is also essential that it is comfortable, as it will be your home for as long as you are on the road.
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  2. 2
    Plan your road trip.
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    If you are not very familiar with the route, it is most essential to do your research. Make an itinerary where will you be at certain time for your gas, meals, maybe sleep (if you are just taking a small car). You can Google your destinations. You can also use some gadgets that can help you navigate the roads and directions better. Bringing small handheld gadgets with useful apps can be very productive.
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  3. 3
    Plan your party.
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    If you are traveling with your family, maybe it is good to consider a friend with road trip experience who can be a great help along the way – changing tires, troubleshooting minor repairs, reading the map, etc. Friends who can be fun road companions can also make fine travel buddies. Finding someone who loves kids and your kids, in particular, to help keep your baby or kids entertained would be a blessing.
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  4. 4
    Start early.
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    It is good to hit the road early. But it is also important to time your departure around the sleeping patterns of your kids. It will be a wonderful experience for everyone if the kids or the baby are in a good mood.
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  5. 5
    Going on a break.
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    You do not need to cover great distances like there is no other day. Enjoy the ride. Stop often, especially when the baby or the kids are awake. Stop at landmarks and let the bigger kids learn a little geography along the way. This is also a good time to eat your meals, gas up, or use the restroom. When your young passengers start feeling tired, get them on board and hit the road once again, or you may decide to stay overnight or a budget chain hotel.
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  6. 6
    Bring foods you and your kids love to munch.
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    This can greatly improve your mood, and your kids' moods as well. Get yourself a cooler that fits the size of your vehicle, and pack it with drinks for everyone. It is important to stay hydrated when you are taking road trips. Pack also essentials such as hand sanitizer, garbage bags, and Ziploc bags.
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  7. 7
    Pick great stops with great eats.
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    Meals are often greatly looked forward to, as these stops offer a chance to stretch everyone's legs. While you can pack a picnic basket, it is also wonderful to eat hot meals after long hours in a vehicle. But make sure that the picky eaters and those that require special meals will have safe foods tucked in the basket and cooler. Be careful too of "traveler's diarrhea" that you and your kids' can get from contaminated water and food.
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  8. 8
    Pack plenty of amusements.
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    Make sure that there are enough toys to keep their attention away from tediousness, but offer these one at a time. A good alternative is to play games that they can do sitting down in the car or plane. Older kids may be entertained by grownup tools such as maps and GPS.
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  9. 9
    Be ready for motion sickness.
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    This can water down your kids' excitement. The symptoms include dizziness, blanching, nausea and vomiting. This happens more often when cruising or traveling on the road. You can help your kid by opening a window and letting them look out and watch moving objects. There are also medicines that you can buy to help treat motion sickness. Ask your doctor about it.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Seat them comfortably. If it a plane you are taking, three-year old kids and older must have their own seats in a domestic flight. A kid as old as two need to have their own seat if you are flying internationally. You may also consider booking for bulkhead seats or those close to the exits for that extra space where your kid can safely play on the floor. You can also ask about taking a car seat on board for your kid's increased safety. Bigger kids may want a window seat where their imagination can be put to work.
  • Dress them in layers and keep a carry-all bag handy. If your child is clothed in a couple of light layers, it will be easier to add or take off layers to ward off chills or heat for comfort. Make it easy for you to change clothes and provide them comfort while on air or down the road. A carry-all bag that has a few extra clothes, diapers, and other basic needs (wipes, tissues, extra bottles of milk, medications, training cup, favorite meals, etc.) can be most useful during the long flight or drive.
  • Plan their entertainment. Toddlers and young kids cooped for long hours inside an aircraft or vehicle are no joy to deal with. Bring a few toys or other items that can keep them preoccupied. Choose ones that do not take up so much space in your carry-on bag. Offer them entertaining stuff – coloring books, pencils and sketch pads, portable gadgets, etc. – one toy at a time. Supply them with a new one as the interest wanes and they become fidgety and bored again.
  • Take your child to a doctor before the trip. This will give you peace of mind, knowing that your kid is fit to travel. This is a good time to ask about motion sickness and immunizations. It is sensible to bring a medical kit with stuff such as paracetamol, anti-itching lotion, thermometer, Band-Aids, and oral rehydration salt (ORS).
  • Restrain your child. You will not want your child unrestrained in the car. That will be too dangerous for him, for the driver and for everyone. Do not let them walk around when the RV is in motion or while the plane is cruising at high altitudes. So, make sure you use appropriate restraints like car seats or seatbelts.

Traveling can be very uplifting and a great way to teach kids about a lot of things. Traveling short distances can be a good way to introduce kids to the pleasures of seeing the outdoors and the world. These are also wonderful moments for parents to bond with them. If you know how to travel safely with kids and infants, these occasions can be memorable milestones in their early life.

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There is more to learn. Next time find out how to travel safely with your kids on a train or a cruise. Arrivederci!

Questions and Answers

What's The Best Sling For Airplane Travel?

A Ring sling is best for airplane rides if you are breastfeding and the baby is around 16-17 lbs.

A ring sling looks like this:

http://screencast.com/t/FTvT1wwkj

When your kids are bigger, it will get uncomfortable (especially those around 20 lbs and beyond), you should try using ergo instead.

An ergo baby carrier looks like this:

http://screencast.com/t/GDJC0KlKn4Wp

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Categories : Parenting | Travel & Leisure

Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Robbi

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