Friday, September 17, 2010

Traveling with Kids

Over the past couple of years our family has been blessed with lots of family trips.  However, airplane travel and road trips can get complicated with little ones in tow.  Here are some things I found helpful:

Safety First:
  • Child Restraint Systems can be tricky when it comes to flying.  Airplane seats can be pretty narrow.  So, if you choose to bring a car seat on the plane, it is best to make sure it will fit in the airplane seat before you head to the airport.  Most airlines post the width of their seats on their website or you can call to find out.  The car seat is also required to have "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft" printed on it in order to be approved by the FAA.
  • CARES is a wonderful alternative to taking a car seat.  Car seats can be big and bulky and carrying one through an airport can be frustrating.  CARES is a Child Aviation Restraint System that can be stored in a diaper bag/carry on easily.  I have personally used one and if you can afford one (or borrow one) it is totally worth it!  It is used for children 22-44 lbs.  Click here to find out more about CARES.
  • More information about child safety on airplanes click here.
In Airports/Busy Public Areas:
  • Take a Stroller for kids who may have a hard time keeping up.  You can also use the stroller to help carry light weight bags.  You can check your stroller at the gate and it will be waiting for you when you land.
  • Dress Children Brightly and in the same color if possible.  Having your child in bright colors makes it easier to spot them in a crowd.
  • Take a Picture of each child with your cell phone before travelling.  This way if they do get lost, you have a picture to show the police/security.
  • Lost and Found Temporary Tattoos come in handy if your child gets lost. 
Recommended supplies:
  • Baby Wipes and Antibacterial Wipes are great for cleaning the kids hands when there isn't a sink available.  Try using them for airplane seats and trays, restaurant tables and chairs and toys that may have fallen on the floor.  Bonus - they don't have to be checked out by airport security like hand sanitizers.
  • Baby Toy Links are perfect for keeping kids toys off the ground.  Just attach one end to the toy and the other to the child's car seat.  As my friend, Jenny, said, we don't have "go-go gadget arms" to pick up fallen toys.  Bonus - babies love to use the links themselves as toys!
  • Disposable Place Mats are great for questionable restaurant tables and airplane trays.  Choose ones with patterns like race tracks and pack a couple of matchbox cars with them to keep the kids entertained.
  • Dry Snacks like dried fruit, fruit snacks, pretzels, nuts, cereals, cookies and crackers keep from messy spills.  Make child size portions for each child.  Snack size baggies work well for older kids (those who can open and close a baggie) and small plastic bowls with lids are terrific for toddlers.  If you trust that your child can pace themselves, let them have their own stash of snacks.  Beware of sweet snacks.  Remember, your child will stuck in a car seat for some time and won't be able to burn off the sugar.
  • Sports-like Drink Bottles/ Sippy Cups help prevent spills in the car.  Be sure to keep the kids well hydrated, especially on an airplane and/or if they have a lot of salty snacks.  Remember, there are limits on what liquids you can take on a plane.  Please visit the TSA website for more information.
  • Books/Comic Books are terrific option.  If your little one can't read yet, find a book with lots of bright pictures.  Airport gift shops usually have lots of books to choose from.  Or make a special trip out to the bookstore before your trip and let your child pick out a special book for themselves.
  • Color Wonder Sets get rid of the worry that the kids with mark up the car or airplane seats while coloring.  They even have light-up markers now which would be fun for a night flight or car ride.
  • Movies/TV Shows can keep a child's attention for a while.  If you have a portable DVD player or a laptop that plays DVDs this would be a great time to use them.  You can usually find kid TV shows on DVD for a reasonable price ($5-10).
  • Video Games are great entertainment for kids.  The best part, you can find educational systems now like the Leapster and V-Smile.
For more tips on flying with your little one, check out Moneywise Baby: Flying with an Infant

No matter how you travel or how many kids are with you, it can be a fun experience for everyone if you are well prepared.  Happy and safe travels!

No comments:

Post a Comment