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Traveling with kids? Here’s what you need to know

A confined space, surrounded by strangers and an upset child — it’s a parent’s nightmare. This is the exact situation traveling as a family can put you in and it can be difficult. The best way to lessen traveling nightmares is planning ahead. Being prepared can help the whole family feel like they can handle any situation that they’re in while traveling and relieve any related stress. These tips can help.

Before a trip

  • Talk about it: Help kids understand what’s happening by talking to them about the trip. Explain where you’re going, who you’ll see and how long you’ll travel. Gather materials or visit websites that will help them understand more about the trip and the places you’ll be visiting.

  • Pack resources: Toys, music, books, games, movies — consider these tools in your traveling toolkit. You might have some of these resources already, but don’t forget the library (it’s free!).

  • Go shopping: Take your kids shopping to pick out some of the above items shortly before a trip. Adding a few new things to the mix will hold your kids’ attention longer than a movie they’ve watched dozens of times.

  • Embrace art: A travel art kit is a great way to keep kids occupied during travel. Fill a bag with art supplies like as crayons, stickers, paper and coloring books.

  • Call ahead: Alert appropriate organizations like an airline about food allergies so they can prepare. Airlines, for example, will not serve peanuts on a flight if they’re aware of a severe peanut allergy onboard.

  • Visit the doctor: If international travel is on the agenda, check with your pediatrician on your child’s vaccines. They’ll need to be up to date and you may need to get new vaccinations based on the destination (e.g. Typhoid, yellow fever vaccine).


During a trip

  • Bring snacks: This may be obvious, but it’s always a necessity to pack healthy snacks and water no matter what kind of trip you’re taking.

  • Stick to a schedule: Try to keep your kid’s sleeping and eating schedules as normal as possible. The familiarity and comfort of a schedule can help ease any stress they’re feeling due to the travel.

  • Clothes at the ready: Having an easily accessible change of clothes for you and your kid can be a travel saver. Pack a change of clothes in a resealable bags in case a child experiences motion sickness. The quick change and ability to seal the mess away will save you and those around you from any ensuing unpleasantness.

  • Always be prepared: Have an emergency travel medical kit with you at all times while traveling that includes things like age-appropriate pain and fever relievers, insect repellent, sunscreen, hydrocortisone cream. And don’t forget any prescription medications your children need.

  • Schedule breaks: When traveling with small children, allow extra time to reach your destination and make frequent stops to stretch or reset.

  • Carry photos: Carry current photos of your children in case they wander away from you and you need to enlist the help of others.

Cheat sheet

Can’t remember all of that? We understand. Together with our friends at Safe Kids Wisconsin, we put together this infographic to help you remember these tips for traveling with kids.

Travel Tips - View Infographic