Part 2: Simple Travel With Children

{Photo Credit}

This list of travel tips is the second half of a guest post by Christina. See yesterday’s post for part one, with lots of great packing ideas!

4. If traveling by plane…

Know exactly what your airline will allow you to pack. Most airlines allow you to planeside check a stroller and a carseat for free. DO THIS! You can always use your stroller to carry bags and wear your baby. Also, ask if there are empty seats on the flight before you board; you can bring the carseat on if there are!

Bring a sling or Ergo/Snugli carrier on the plane. Walking babies calms them even in the air. Eowyn would only go to sleep in one of these on our last trip. Most planes have a spot where you can stand up in a darker, quieter area.

Try to get a bulkhead seat. Either use a plane-issued bassinet or the floor so your baby/child can lay down and you can get a break from holding them.

Note that a carseat might be unnecessary abroad. Most other countries don’t have the same carseat laws we do, especially if you’ll be getting around by taxi or public transit within a city.

Note that strollers can double nicely as high-chairs!

5. In-flight or in-car comfort:

Nurse, give a finger or paci to suck, or give a bottle on take-off & landing. For older children, let them eat a snack or chew gum as a treat. This makes their ears pop.

Pack a first-aid kit in an accessible place, including teething tablets, pain reliever, saline drops, a nose squeegee, and tummy soothing medicine. Eowyn has gotten teeth on EVERY TRIP across the Atlantic!

Pack some new books or toys- raid Goodwill, thrift shops, garage sales, the $5 rack at Wal-Mart, the “See Spot Save” aisle at Target. Some ideas: etch-a-sketches, coloring books, stickers, finger puppets in a drawstring bag, play phone or keys, travel-sized board games. (In a plane, you want fewer small pieces. In a car, this isn’t quite such a big deal.)

Take toys out ONE BY ONE. Resist the urge to interest a contented child in a different book, toy, or game. You WILL regret it! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Save a few for the return trip, too, so the novelty hasn’t worn off.

For babies, bring a bottle of (expressed) milk along for feeding on-the-go. VERY helpful in museums, airports, long walks… Keep it body-temperature by storing it next to your body or the baby’s. Breastmilk can sit out for up to 10 hours without any problem.

– If breast-feeding, buy a manual breast pump. I got an Avent Isis Manual Breast Pump off Craigslist for $15 in nearly-new condition. I’ve been so pleased. Pack it in your carry-on! Even if you’ve never pumped before, or have a great electric pump, bring a manual. You do NOT want to be stranded (especially in a foreign country in pain from a nursing strike or be unable to give your child a bottle– trust me, I’ve been there!)

Check the laws in your state regarding breast-feeding in a backseat. I know this sounds crazy, but I just looked up the actual SC state law, just to see if it were true, and there IS an exemption clause for “children being fed.”**

Use your own judgment– but I can imagine this being super-helpful knowledge in case of a traffic jam or other slow moving traffic, when your baby has had enough and is HUNGRY. To check state laws, google “child passenger restraint law___ ” and fill in the state(s) in which you’ll be driving. I can’t find a law authorizing this in KY, for instance. Regardless, NEVER NURSE WHILE DRIVING!

{Photo Credit}

6. Time zones. We’ve found that “going cold turkey” into the new schedule is best, as opposed to trying to gradually get there.

If possible, travel east during the night. The child will sleep some since it’s “night” to him. When you get there, have him stay awake until his next nap, NEW TIME ZONE time.

Example: When flying to Europe, our plane left at 8 pm EST and arrived at 11 am Paris time. We kept Eowyn awake until her afternoon nap time, then only let her sleep the normal 2 hours. We then put her to bed at 8 pm Paris time, and didn’t go get her when she woke up around 11 to play, thinking that was her nap. :) She settled down after jabbering for a few minutes, and slept soundly ’til morning. Get your baby outside in the sun as much as you can during the day, and keep the room dark at night– this really helps reset their internal circadian (daily) rhythms.

Traveling west will be harder on the plane …it’s a really really LONG day, literally. But then you’ll get home so tired that you fall into bed around 8 pm and sleep until morning. The next day you’ll all probably be back on your home time, just a little tired and needing to take a nap or go to bed early. The nice thing about this is that your baby will take really great naps. :)

Load up on vitamins both before and after time zone changes to boost your flagging immunity! We love Airborne! Orange juice, or lemonade with cayenne & maple syrup are great. Cod-liver oil full of Vitamin D is great.

7. While there:

Plan only one sight (or group of nearby sights) to see per day.

Plan for nap-times. Either head back to the hotel for nap times, or plan on strapping your baby to your back, or in a stroller during nap-time. Eowyn naps great in a moving stroller or on my back, and this has enabled me to enjoy museums she would have found unendurably boring.

Plan to let your baby down to crawl or walk or explore both morning and afternoon. There are public gardens and parks everywhere, and you’ll both enjoy the sun!

Pack your own (baby) food. It’s just not worth the time of trying to track it down once you’re there. Even if your child is older, pack foods you know are safe and tummy-pleasing for him.

Refuse to stress. If you’re tired, take a break. Nap. Sit by a river. ENJOY your trip.

**SECTION 56-5-6430. Use of restraint device not required under certain circumstances. The provisions of this article do not apply if a child being transported is being fed, has a physical impairment, or a medical problem or any distress which makes it impractical to use a child restraint system. Alternate restraint protection, such as safety belts, must be utilized if possible

Christina is a former teacher & choir director, and current stay-at-home mom to Eowyn (1 year) and wife to Ryan. She is passionate about equipping moms to think critically in order to raise healthy children full of faith, music and imagination.

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3 comments to Part 2: Simple Travel With Children

  • Scarlet

    For Christina, sorry Michele
    Just because the law where you are going does not “say” you have to have your child in a car seat would you really “really” go without one, you talk about checking things out have you ever looked at the statistics on a child surviving a wreak in a car seat and without one!!! Really!!!
    As a mother who has lost a child, I cannot believe you would even say that! Even if I had not lost a child I have enough sense not to endanger a child by carelessness! Just because the law does not require us to be near the tub when they take a bath, I do not leave my small ones in there alone, do you? Really!!!!


    Michele Reply:

    @Scarlet, Dear Scarlet, I am so sorry for your loss.

    I can’t speak for Christina, but in our recent experience, we did travel without a carseat for a bit of a time, because in many areas, the shuttles, taxis etc. provided a carseat.

    Also, I believe the “state law” reference is still requiring the car to be *stopped* (such as in the traffic jam she referred to, but if there was no road shoulder, for instance). As she was so careful to point out- don’t do this while the car is driving!

    I can certainly say that having met her in person, that Christina is absolutely not a careless person, and incredibly sensible. And she does travel with a carseat. :)

    Remember grace.

    Hugs to you today, Scarlet.


  • Hey! I just saw this comment, and in reply– first off– wow, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a child is something every mother views as a terrible pain! May the Lord continue to comfort you!!

    To reply to your question, yes, there really are situations in which a large, heavy car seat would be cumbersome, quite difficult, and truly not much use. In air planes, they do not add any extra protection In trains and boats, passengers aren’t usually restrained at all. On foot, they are also moot.

    If you and your family are traveling around a European city (for example) travel is nearly exclusively on foot, or public transportation (in which restraining seats of any kind is impossible). Short trips in and out of taxis in city traffic are mostly stop and go, not high-speed interstate chases. In those situations, we have done all of the following: carried our daughter in our arms, worn her in a carrier, or kept her in an infant car seat (which was compatible with her stroller). In more rural environments luggage is limited, as you will physically have to carry everything you bring.

    Of course, if you will be driving for long stretches at high speeds it would be wise to bring along a car seat if you can! It is always our responsibility as parents to try our best to care for our children, and we can do as much as we can to shield them from physical (and other) harm). However, we ultimately have to trust the Lord and realize that no matter what we do, harm will come to them in one way or another, as we live in a fallen world.

    I hope that clarifies– thanks for the comment!


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