12 Tips (Learned the Hard Way) for Traveling with a Small Child
Plan Ahead for Ear Pain
Swallowing during the plane’s takeoff and landing helps keep ears clear and comfortable. Try to nurse or bottlefeed your baby at both times or, for an older child, have a drink on hand.
Check Your Stroller at the Gate
You’ll leave it just outside the door to the airplane and pick it up as soon as you get off.
Fly the Family-Friendly Skies
If you haven’t yet decided where you’re going on your vacation but know you’re planning to fly, do some research on available airlines. Some domestic and international companies offer helpful guest services for young families. Before booking your flight, ask about the following questions:
- Are bottle-warming services available?
- Do you carry extra diapers?
- Do you have changing tables available?
- Do you offer staggered meals (so that one parent can eat while the other tends to the baby)?
- Do you offer travel miles for babies or children with booked seats?
Don’t Forget Your Paper Work
You will need photo indentification and/or a passport for yourself, but in many cases you’ll need documentation for your child, too. Always carry a copy of your child’s birth certificate (check with the carrier to make sure that they don’t need an original). Also, if both biological parents are not traveling with the child, you may need a letter from the other parent stating that you have permission to take your child out of the country.
Your Family Medicine Kit
Another lesson I recently learned. In my pre-cruise euphoria, while packing, I just assumed that no one would get sick or that, if they did, we could just buy the appropriate medication. Of course, my husband and I caught colds on the ship, and my son got a very bad headache one day. Children’s medications were not sold anywhere on the ship, and we ended up crushing a quarter of an adult Tylenol into a cup of water for my son to drink. It worked (slowly), but the cherry-flavored liquid would have been easier and safer.
If you or your child take prescription medication, make sure that you have more than enough for the trip and that it’s easy to get to. Keep it with your in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost. And, if you’re going to a sunny place, make absolutely certain that you plan ahead for sun safety. Bring (and use) sunscreen for your child—SPF 30 or higher.
Get the Scoop on Kids Stuff
It seems that everyone has a “Kids’ Club” lately, and they can be great places for your child to have fun while you get a little free time. Make sure that you know the following:
- the age/potty training requirements
- fees, if any
- what activities are available and what safety precautions are taken (especially for things such as swimming)
- measures in place to ensure security
- who the counselors are, and what kind of training they’ve had.
It sometimes takes a day or two for a child to feel comfortable in these programs, but if yours seems truly unhappy there, don’t force him or her to stay.
Have No Expectations
This might seem obvious, but it’s especially important when you’re traveling with children. Kids might not have the wonderful time that you expected them to, or they might get sick. A normally good-natured child might get tired and cranky. You may find that your accommodations aren’t what you had hoped for. The more that you’re able to take things in stride, the more everyone in your family will enjoy themselves.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN