Be prepared – so you can enjoy your trip
While that trip to Disneyworld is finally coming to fruition and the kids are excited to go, there are some things to consider that will keep them comfortable and safe.
“The main thing to remember when traveling with children is being prepared,” said Marie Kayton, MD, a pediatrician with Falmouth Hospital. “Make sure your travel bag contains snacks, water, diapers and a change of clothing.”
And remember to bring whatever will keep them distracted and calm such as their favorite stuffed animal, toys or a pacifier for babies and toddlers if they use one.
“Children are creatures of habit and like their routines,” said Dr. Kayton. “When their routines are thrown off it makes it a bit more difficult for them, as it does for most of us.”
She recommends talking to your kids about what they will encounter before going to the airport or setting out on that road trip.
“Try role playing with them, especially if they are younger and haven’t flown before,” said Dr. Kayton. “There are books that help parents with this topic. Explain to your children that someone will be taking their luggage to make sure it gets on the plane and then you’ll have to wait to board the plane. When you get off the plane, you have to go pick up your luggage.”
Flying tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- Have children wear outer layers of clothing and shoes that are easy to take on and off. Children under 12 do not have to remove their shoes at security.
- Strollers are acceptable going through security and can be gate-checked, which can make it easier when traveling with babies and young children.
- Explain what it is like to go through security and that their backpacks, dolls, stuffed animals etc. will have to go through the X-ray machine.
- Children under 2 can fly sitting on an adult’s lap. AAP recommends exploring options for child to have their own seat either by purchasing a separate ticket or taking a flight less likely to be full so that your child can fly buckled in their car seat.
- Carry hand sanitizer or wipes to wash hands frequently and prevent illness.
Dr. Kayton recommends bringing along basic medications for pain, fever and motion sickness.
- Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain and or fever
- Benadryl that can be used to prevent motion sickness or an allergic reaction
If your child has a chronic illness, such as asthma or diabetes, parents should review the list of medications to make sure you have enough to cover the trip and unexpected delays. Dr. Kayton suggests doing this a week before your trip, in the event you need any refills.
Car seat safety and water safety are as important when traveling as they are at home.
Vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of death in children who travel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And drowning is the second leading cause of death while traveling.
“There is a lot of online information about the use and availability of car safety seats when traveling,” said Dr. Kayton. “Parents can research and talk with other families who have traveled to the area where you are going, to find out the availability of car seats when you get there. If not available, then you should be bringing your own.”
Water safety can be an issue when traveling because the areas may not have any lifeguards, said Dr. Kayton.
“Parents need to know their own limitations as well. If there is no lifeguard, keep your children close at hand and stay by their side when they are in the water.”
Treatment for Illness
Travel diarrhea and gastrointestinal illnesses are among the most common problems relating to children who are traveling, according to the CDC.
“The most important thing is keeping them hydrated,” said Dr. Kayton.
If your child becomes ill while away, many resorts have a physician on staff but they may not be a pediatrician.
“Be sure to ask the cost of seeing a resort doctor,” said Dr. Kayton. “Ask if they accept your health insurance. If they don’t, it can be more costly than taking taxi ride outside of the resort to an urgent care center that will take your health insurance.”
And remember, you can always call your pediatrician back home with any concerns about illness or questions about treatment.
Dr. Kayton recommends the following websites for further information: