A parent’s pocket survival guide for traveling with kids

Many families are vacation-bound this month, hoping to soak up every last bit of summer break before school begins! Vacations provide a healthy dose of change from daily routines, and a special opportunity to strengthen family time by creating new, special memories.

Hustling to a catch flight or follow an itinerary on the open road with young children can feel intimidating, especially on a first-time family trip. Babies, toddlers and young children require your patience cap and a willingness to go the extra mile in preparation. Parents who take the time to plan ahead are far more likely to reap the benefits of pleasant travels.

Traveling by air

July is the busiest air travel month of the year, which means parents can expect typical airport commotion to be amplified. The surplus of crowds that the month will conjure may lead to extra obstacles, but nothing that thoughtful preparation can’t handle.

First and foremost, book a nonstop flight if possible. Avoiding layovers is a go-to flight strategy for keeping fussiness at bay. Additionally, booking airfare during your child’s usual nap time will encourage them to sleep throughout the flight. If your child can’t sleep or wakes up for a restroom break, an isle seat is your best friend.

Traveling on the road

Driving to your vacation destination offers an intimate travel experience that families can take advantage of to create a memorable trip. A long drive allows plenty of time for playing games, singing and reading. Keep your child comfortable by making frequent restroom stops, also giving them the opportunity to stretch their legs and enjoy fresh air.

Because most vehicle side and rear windows don’t block UVA rays, it’s possible for a child in the back seat to suffer from a sunburn during a long drive. Apply sunblock on your child beforehand, especially on trips lasting more than a few hours. Take advantage of the close quarters to keep snacks, toys, books and other necessities available at all times.

Parent Pro Tips

Before embarking your family adventure, compile a stash of new toys and books to disperse in moderation throughout travel. Packing a bag of books will help keep children entertained and their summer reading skills sharp. Children who will begin kindergarten in the fall can use travel time as an opportunity to practice the skills needed for kindergarten success.

Prepare for any scenario by packing a list of essential and emergency items including a first-aid kit, change of clothes, tissues and disinfecting hand gel. If traveling to a warm climate with water activities, parents can utilize their travel to freshen up on water safety, making sure to keep vacation time safe and fun.

Questions? Call the free Birth to Five Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5437)
or download the Birth to Five Helpline app!

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.