Travel tips - Travelling with children

If your child is traveling alone, you should write all the numbers that would be helpful for the child on a note, or in a little date book for when she/he arrives at the final destination.

Don't count on your toddler being willing to eat airline meals and snacks! Little chewy fruit snacks work great during takeoff and landing for keeping his ears comfortable, and the different shapes keep him interested.

When traveling with children by air, if at all possible book at non-peak times (late at night, midday and Monday to Wednesday). This gives you a chance at a free seat for your child to stretch out and sleep. Arrive at the airport early. Sprints down an endless terminal are difficult enough, but nearly impossible when packing a baby on your back and holding a small child's hand.

When travelling with small children, take along a package of outlet covers. Most hotel rooms neglect to provide these little shock savers, and there are often outlets placed tantalizingly at child height. For rooms equipped with stoves/ ovens, remember to bring knob covers, or simply remove the knobs while not in use.

While traveling, particularly with small, wandering children, one worry seems to enter all our minds; "What happens if I loose my child?" Here's a tip that will help defray some of that worry. Before starting on the trip, visit a local hospital and ask if they will make one of those plastic bracelets for each of your children. Usually, they will. Then you can put whatever information you'd like on a slip of paper and insert it into the bracelet. If you're traveling to/through foreign countries, you may want to put the information in several languages.

Take lots of children's stories and music on tapes, plenty of cheap toys, and new books.

Wrap individual goldfish, gummi bears, and (a small amount) of M&M's individually in aluminum foil. Small children will delight in unwrapping them to see what's inside. This is a great tip for plane rides. (Make sure to keep a trash bag next to him, though).

Always keep a recent photo of your child in your wallet - in case you loose them in a crowed area, and need help in locating them.

When travelling with children, especially if one parent only may accompany the child(ren) out of the country - make sure that you have a signed and notarized letter from both parents stating that permission is given to the accompanying parent (or temporary guardian) to take the child out of the country. Make sure also that the accompanying parent or guardian also has the necessary medical release forms for said child(ren). This is especially important when travelling to Mexico. Travel agents or the airline should have these forms available.

Here is a great activity for long road trips with the whole family: Write down the names of your children's favorite songs on separate pieces of paper. Mix them up in a small box or bag (an empty wipes container works great!) While you are traveling, have your children take turns pulling one piece of paper out of the box. Everyone in the car has to sing the song that's written on the paper.

Airplane Advice: Pack some finger foods, like fruit, pretzels and cereal for your children to enjoy during the flight. These items might help them adjust to in-cabin pressure changes. For younger children, try using bottles, "sippy cups" or pacifiers to help ease inner ear pressure. For older children, chewing gum can serve the same purpose.

In planning a road trip with younger children, prepare surprise packets for them to open periodically during the trip. Perhaps you could plan for two a day - one midmorning, the other mid-afternoon. In these packets could be such items as books, travel games, snacks, small toys. This gives the child something to anticipate . . . as well as something to do.

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