Traveling With Kids: A Survival Guide
Planning keeps kids calm and comfortable -- and preserves parents' sanity.
Ask any parent: Whoever designed the car-seat-and-stroller
combo was a genius.
Remember the "old" days, just a few years ago, when
they were not yet available? Andrea McCoy, MD, sure does. Her husband and very
young son flew to meet her at a conference. "He had bags hanging from the
stroller, the car seat over his shoulder with my son riding in it -- he was
practically airborne! It was really quite the sight."
McCoy, who is chief of pediatric care at Temple University
Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, says travel with kids can be
Most importantly, "make sure you bring
what your child will need on board -- food, drinks, medications," she tells
WebMD. "A baby who gets uncomfortable, if they have teething pain, for
example, will suffer until you land."
Also, bring something for a toddler to
chew/swallow to help with air pressure changes. An infant can be fed during
these times, McCoy says.
Another bit of advice: Spring for a plane ticket for your
child. "Many families don't want to pay for a
seat for their toddler, and I understand the economics," she says. "But
having enough space is important -- not only for you, but for the people around
you. Also, a baby is much better protected strapped into a car seat and a plane
seat, rather than in the parent's lap."
To get your summer vacation off to a healthy start, here are a
few more tips:
- Assemble first aid supplies -- hand wipes, thermometer,
aspirin or Tylenol, bandages, antibiotic cream, rubbing alcohol for bug bites,
lip balm, an antidiarrheal, and an antacid. If motion sickness is a concern,
ask your doctor about medication. There are both over-the-counter and
prescription options available.
Ginger root, lemon drops, peppermints, and
soda crackers can also ease a queasy stomach.
Melatonin may aid sleep and cut jet lag
(take at bedtime before, during, and a few days after, following all
instructions).Your health professional can help determine the proper
dosage and whether melatonin is right for you.
Also, take vitamins. Keeping up your
immunity is important. Strange places, strange germs -- you might not be
resistant, says Hyla Cass, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at
UCLA and author of Natural Highs: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind-Body
Techniques to Help You Feel Good All the Time. Her advice:
Bring lots of vitamin C, and take two grams
(2,000 mg) daily a couple of days before leaving. Large doses of vitamin C have
been found to decrease the duration and severity of colds. Bring the kids'
multiple vitamins. Kiddy vitamins contain nutrients that help balance a child's
Don't leave medicines in an open suitcase
on the floor. If you have babies or toddlers, make sure all medications are
Also, pack calming treats. "Sleep,
diet, hydration," Cass says. "Those are the big three when
traveling." She advises you avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol -- all of
which trigger adrenaline rushes. Bottled water is the best choice; keep some in
Quick, healthy, kid-friendly
hard boiled eggs