Traveling during the holidays with small children can present unique challenges. The key to smoothing any bumps in the road (or air) is to be prepared.
According to AAA, 55-million people are expected to travel over Thanksgiving weekend. When visiting friends and family, planning ahead and taking a few extra precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
“If you’ll be driving to your destination, remember that babies need to get out of their car seats every couple of hours,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw. “Plan ahead, so that you’re not trying to rush your tired or fragile child through your travel plans. If at all possible, try to travel at a time when your kids typically sleep, which can often help a child get through a hard travel day.”
Before leaving home:
- Refill prescription medications.
- Pack over-the-counter medications that may be needed while you’re away, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as well as a thermometer.
- Consider carrying an easily accessible change of clothes for your child, so that you’ll have something they can change into if they do become ill. Also, pack a plastic, sealable bag for clothes or in case your child becomes sick.
- Have a plan in case of illness away from home. Where will you seek medical treatment if necessary? Do you have your insurance cards in your wallet?
While you’re away from home, try to stick to your child’s usual routines, as much as possible, including bedtimes and nap time, to help reduce stress and melt downs.
“And if you’re going to be staying at a friend’s or family member’s house, especially if they don’t have little kids, think about childproofing and how to keep your children physically safe,” Dr. Bradshaw says.
When childproofing your surroundings, keep an eye out for unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products and stairways. According to the National Capitol Poison Center, accidental poisonings increase during the holidays and when families travel. Keep the number for poison control posted on the fridge or by the phone, or save it to your mobile phone contacts, where you can easily access it: 1-800-222-1222.
Also be aware that the cold weather months can be a tricky time in terms of car seats. As a general rule, bulky clothing, like winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat because they can put your child at risk in a crash. This also applies to adult seatbelts.
For additional tips for traveling with children, click here.