Tips for holiday travel with young children

Tips for holiday travel with young children

Traveling with young children, whether in the car or on an airplane, can present difficulties no matter if you’re a seasoned parent or a first-time mom or dad. There’s a good chance you feel anxious or even overwhelmed by all the things you need to pack and plan, especially during the holiday season. As with anything else, preparation is key. Here are a few tips to help get you to your destination and enjoy the ride as much as possible.

Car seat safety is critical

If you are traveling in your own vehicle, double check that your child’s car seat is properly installed and the straps are at the appropriate height. When you are loading up the car for a road trip, ensure all items are safely secured and do not pose the risk of becoming a projectile in the event of an accident.

If you are not traveling in your own vehicle, car rental companies typically have an option to rent a car seat for the duration of your stay, and there are also companies out there that allow you to rent baby gear when traveling. When you rent a car seat, be very careful when installing. If the manual does not come with the rental, most car seat manuals are available online.

If you are flying, bringing your car seat on an airplane is a very safe option. Make sure your car seat is approved for use on an airplane. You can also check a car seat, but know that there is a chance it may be damaged, which compromises its integrity.

Beware of non-baby proofed spaces

Your destination may not be baby proofed. Even if it is, your child may still find something unsafe to get into. Keep an eye on them at all times – unfamiliar places pose risks your child may not encounter at home. If you are around a pool, closely supervise your child and make sure they are never near the pool without you or another adult you trust.

Don’t sacrifice too much sleep – and keep it safe

It’s perfectly okay to adjust your child’s sleep schedule for travel, and in fact, it’s probably impossible to maintain their exact routine. When possible, adequate naps will help prevent meltdowns and exhaustion, so I do recommend prioritizing them when you can. Be sure you are practicing safe sleep. Babies should sleep on their back in a crib or pack and play with nothing in it.

Have low expectations

When it comes to little kids, expect the unexpected. A disruption in your normal routine can be tricky in the short term for little kids. You shouldn’t expect your child to have as much energy as they do on a normal day at home (some children are the opposite). If they aren’t totally comfortable trying different or new foods when traveling, that’s okay, too. We are all creatures of habit, so temporarily changing a child’s typical environment can feel confusing. Offer reassurance and comfort – you may be surprised at how well your child handles traveling.

Dr. Markeita Moore is a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

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One Comment

  1. I also HIGHLY recommend getting TSA pre-check status prior to airplane travel with little kids. It takes some planning but is affordable and it saves a lot of time and potential frustration when going through security. Kids get pre-check status until they’re 13 under their parent’s pre-check. It’s saved my family a few melt-downs and helped keep the stress level down when traveling with littles!

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Dr. Markeita Moore
Dr. Markeita Moore