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Published on August 30, 2022

girl laughing looking out window of a car

Tips for Traveling with Kids

Travel season, these days, is a year-round part of family life. You and yours will likely hit the road, be it on a plane, train, SUV, motorhome or minivan.

Trips are an adventure that create so many great memories. To make it work, you have to plan, prepare and play.

Make a Travel Plan

Research your destination and any stops. How long will it take to get there, and will you have plans to help young children who need to burn energy before bed? Plan your route, along with the amount of driving hours you’ll put in before you wrap up the day.

If you are traveling by plane, find out if strollers or car seats are allowed in the plane and if they need to be checked. Understand where you’ll sit and where the kids will be, too.

The change in altitude is sometimes hard for children and their ears hurt. Drinking is the best way to “pop” the ears for very young children; older children may chew gum or snack. In case there are none to purchase, bring “non-messy” snacks along – they will be a big help.

Activities When You Arrive

When you get there, what’s the plan? School-age children can have a say in what activities the family will do.

You can search online for family friendly places and activities. Another thing to think about is hotel/motels or instead, rental homes. What will fit your needs best?

Some hotels offer suites with more space, and that can help make the journey more restful and relaxing.

Preparation is Key to Stress Reduction

Road trips and plane trips are not the same. You have more room in the car, but it also have other issues, like:

Do you have anyone prone to carsickness? If so, a bucket with lid and wet wipes is a good idea. Add extra plastic bags to line the bucket. Pack some ginger ale to help settle an upset tummy. You can talk to your family clinician about this, and other travel tips, too. Some people avoid that carsick feeling when they ride the middle of the back seat.

Bring the key toys or devices to help kids entertain themselves. Infants need little more than eat, sleep and play. Make sure you have pacifiers, bottles and blankets that smell like home. Toddlers will need a few distractions. Make sure you have their small toys, special blankets or stuffed animals.

Older children may want their electronics, a book or a sketchpad. Headphones and a cozy hoodie can help with rest. A few new apps and device chargers are also vital items for us all.

Remember the Necessity of Play

The old adage, “Everything is new and exciting to 3-year-old kids” is true for travel. Sometimes you have to stop and look at the ducks, even if you’re behind schedule.

Water fun, hiking, zip lines, and local or professional athletics are a few ideas. Safety is priority, especially with rental houses or bike rides.

Making time to play is one of the best ways to get the muscles moving again after sitting for a long time for both kids and adults.

Learn about child- and family-centered care at Avera Children’s Hospital.

By Twila Perkinson, B.S. Family Life Educator

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