My family and I are just home from a family trip. It was a wonderful trip. Traveling with kids, though, is always an adventure. I have flown a lot with my kids and wanted to share my tips for packing and flying with children, especially those with health issues.
1) Make a list and check it twice! I have saved all of my packing lists on the computer, so that I can edit and reuse easily.
2) Check all of your medications a week before your trip. Count the pills to be sure you have enough of each medication to last through your vacation and a few extra days (in the event of flight delays or other travel issues). If your insurance provider won’t allow you to refill a prescription early to ensure you have enough pills, check with your doctor to see if you can get samples of your medication.
3) Pack your medication in your carry on so that you will have it with you in the event your checked baggage is lost or delayed. This includes syringes and anything else you use to administer the medication. We used syringes with our children when they were infants, so we always packed extra syringes (just in case one broke while we were on vacation).
4) Make sure you have contact information for your doctors (pediatrician, pediatric endocrinologist, etc.) and your pharmacist. Make sure you have your insurance card as well. We once flew out of state on vacation without our son’s albuterol (rookie mistake). We ended up having to call our pediatrician and have a prescription called into a local pharmacy. If you are traveling out of the country, I’d advise you to leave copies of this information with a friend or family member. Our oldest son became quite ill when we were in Belgium, and my mother ended up doing most of the talking to our pediatrician for us. We’d call her and she’d call the Dr and then relay the information (because of the time difference and our pediatrician’s inability to make international calls, etc.). It went more smoothly with her having all the information ahead of time (Drs name, phone number, and so on).
5) Continue to administer your child’s medication daily. For us, this has only been an issue when we changed time zones. We opted not to give the medication at the same time our son normally took the medication, but adjusted and gave him the medication each morning. We felt that was the best way to remember to give him the meds. If we had waited until later in the day (when it was morning on our normal schedule), we probably would have forgotten it.
Surviving Flights with Children 3 and Under:
1) Bring drinks and snacks. You can fill bottles, sippy cups and water bottles after you get through security. It’s nice for them to have the cups they are used to. As for snacks, we go with things that are easy for them to handle on their own (bags of Goldfish, lollipops, etc.). We also try to go for a few things they don’t usually get so that it’s more of a treat.
2) Prepare for ear pain during take-off and landing. For babies, it’s best to offer bottle or breast during take-off and landing. You can also use a pacifier or offer a sippy cup..anything that will encourage them to swallow to help their ears pop. If your child is old enough to chew gum, that can help as well.
3) Clothes and diapers. Be sure you pack a change of clothes for your child and enough diapers to last through even the longest delayed flight. I also usually bring an extra shirt for myself…the one time I didn’t was the one time I was vomited on during a flight.
4) Bring your stroller. I prefer sturdy umbrella strollers that will fit through the x-ray machines at security. Being able to maneuver through the airport with your child contained is very helpful. I have a MacLaren Volo that has been all over the US and cobblestone streets in Europe and it still works. It weighs 8 lbs (w/o child) and folds with one hand.
5) Bring toys, DVDS, and other distractions. I usually bring our iPad loaded with a few new games and then a few dollar store trinkets for the kids to have during the flight. Before iPads, we just used portable DVD players.
6) Remain calm – especially if you are traveling alone with your kids. Kids are very perceptive and if they think you are uptight, they will act (or react) accordingly. If your child cries or throws a tantrum on the airplane, relax. Everyone has been there and done that.
A note about car seats. I have traveled every way possible with car seats. I have brought them onto the airplane, I have checked them with my luggage and I have rented them from car rental places. The safest way to travel with children on the airplane is to place them in their car seat. If you have a lap child, then obviously that won’t work for you. Only when I have traveled with my husband or another relative that has been able to help carry the car seats have I brought the seats onto the plane. It’s actually quite nice because it boosts them up high enough so they can see out of the window and helps restrain them. I have also checked them – in that case I recommend buying or borrowing a car seat bag to help protect the seat, but you can also bag them at the airport or wrap them in a large trash bag (yes, I’ve done that too). I would not recommend renting a car seat, because you can’t guarantee that the seat hasn’t been in an accident and there’s the whole germ factor too.
So, those are my travel tips! I hope readers will share their tips as well! Safe Travels!