Traveling with Young Children
By Rona Renner, RN and Marisol Munoz-Kiehne, PhD
Whether you take a car ride to grandma's house or an airplane trip across the country, traveling with kids can be challenging. However, thoughtful planning can make traveling a fun experience you'll always treasure.
How well children adapt to new environments may depend in part on their temperament or natural behavior style. Here are some things to think about when planning a trip:
- Bring new things to do like books, markers and paper, card games, and crafts.
- Try boarding the airplane at the last moment instead of pre-boarding so they can run around till the last minute. If you're taking a car trip, plan for lots of stops to stretch and play.
- Pack healthy snacks and drinks, not sugary treats and soda.
- Keep a good eye on high-energy kids. Their energy can propel them into dangerous situations. Make sure the windows and doors in your hotel room are locked and keep grandma's medication out of sight.
- Children who are slow-to-warm up may take time to observe new situations before participating. At the beach, they may sit in the sand for a while before going in the water.
- Pack a special stuffed animal or toy.
- Frequently talk about what to expect.
- Cautious children might like to take pictures with a disposable camera as a way to be comfortable in new situations.
Slow to adapt children:
- In general, the fewer transitions the better. Pick a fun destination your family will enjoy, instead of trying to visit many cities. Keep to a regular routine as much as possible.
- Have children help pack for the trip and when possible read a book about where you're going.
- Go over details, like how to check in at the airport, or who will be at grandma's house.
- Bring a timer with you, to set up routines and communicate how long things will take.
- Slow adapting children often have trouble getting to sleep. Bring soft music to play at night, and lots of stories to read at bedtime.
- They're more likely to have tantrums when tired or hungry, so pay attention when they start to get fussy. If children act out in public, take them to a quiet space (like a bathroom) and try to figure out what they need and remind them of the rules. Yelling at children in public is bound to make everyone more tense, and cause passionate children to cry more.
- Engage children in helping you and noticing the world around them.
Get advice from your doctor about medications, immunizations, and supplies to bring on your next trip. Enjoy the outdoors with your children this summer. For more information check out "Travels with Baby" by Shelly Rivoli at www.travelswithbaby.com.
For information and inspiration, go to www.childhoodmatters.org and www.nuestrosninos.com. Tune into "Childhood Matters," Sundays 9AM on 98.1 KISSFM and K-OCEAN 105.1FM and "Nuestros Niños," Sundays 8AM on KLOK 1170AM, La Kalle 100.7/105,7FM, KBBF 89.1FM, KLOK 99.5FM, KSES 107.1 and KMBX 700AM. You can hear the radio shows live each Sunday or listen to them online for previous shows.
About Rona Renner:
Rona Renner, RN has been a nurse for over 40 years, and is temperament specialist and parent educator. She is the Executive Director of Interactive Parenting Media, and the host of Childhood Matters Radio show, Sundays at 9AM on 98.1 KISS FM
About Shelly Rivoli:
Shelly Rivoli has traveled with a baby in tow across the U.S., over both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and around the Mediterranean Sea. Together, her family has made its way by airplane, elephant, subway, train, cruise ship, taxi, and long tail boat.
After changing diapers in Thailand, Tunisia, Manhattan, Yosemite, Paris, Chichen Itza, Hawaii, and Pompeii, Shelly has grown quite familiar with the technical details of traveling--and sightseeing--with babies, toddlers, and young children.
Her family travel tips and advice have appeared in national parenting magazines, including Pregnancy, Parents, Parenting, and Nick Jr. Magazine, and on popular parenting websites and blogs including Babble.com, Urban Baby Daily, and aParentlySpeaking. She also publishes her own blog Travels with Baby Tips. Shelly travels as often and as far as she can with her husband and two young daughters. The rest of the time, she hangs her hats (as mother and writer) in the San Francisco Bay Area.