5 stress-free family travel tips

5 stress-free family travel tips

Summer is the most popular time of year for families to travel. No matter a child’s age, and no matter the mode of transportation, traveling with kids can certainly feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. With an adequate amount of preparation and the understanding that hiccups may arise, you can have a successful trip.

Here are my top tips for making your journey as smooth as possible:

1. Stash snacks

Pack as many healthy, filling snacks as you think you may need – and then pack more. If you are flying, you may experience delays, and if you are driving, you’ll likely experience traffic. You’ll want to have plenty of things for children to eat to keep them full and busy. Don’t forget to pack water, too.

2. Plan secret surprises

If your drive or flight is long, prepare a few small, colorful bags containing age-appropriate activities, such as puzzles, coloring books and markers, toy cars, stickers and interactive books. Give your child one bag to open about every hour — depending on the duration of the trip — to open, explore, create and be delighted with for hours on end. It is beneficial for children to learn to use their imagination to entertain themselves.

3. Prepare for takeoff

The movements and sounds of an airplane can be alarming for people of all ages. If your child is old enough, discuss what they may feel or hear while on the airplane to help them feel prepared and less anxious. Pack snacks, a drink and gum for older children to chew during takeoff and landing, and stash a pacifier, bottle or drinking cup for young children to help with the sensation of ear popping. You may also consider a calming item, such as a stuffed animal or toys and activities, to help distract them in those moments.

4. Know before you go

If you are traveling on an airplane, be sure to read through TSA regulations regarding transporting things, like medication, baby formula and breast milk. Make sure you know what must be packed in checked bags versus what can be carried onto the airplane.

5. Remain calm and be flexible

Things may change at the last moment, and that’s OK. Children and babies make noise and cry, and that’s OK, too. Do what you can to stay calm and help comfort your child. Remember that traveling is also a break from their normal routine, so don’t be surprised if they are thrown off or act out. Try your best to enjoy your time together and focus on making memories.

Dr. Linda Vassmer is a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Hospital.

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About the Author

Dr. Linda Vassmer
Dr. Linda Vassmer

Dr. Linda Vassmer is a pediatrician at Advocate Children's Hospital.