School is finally out for the summer, businesses and tourist attractions have opened up their doors back to the public and everyone is making their escape out of the house after being cooped up inside for over a year. After the pandemic swept across the country and the world, making it difficult to travel or even leave the house, it’s finally coming back to normal and people are traveling more than ever before. In fact, according to major news outlets, traveling for leisure has seen a big uptick in the past month or two and will most likely continue through the summer.
If you have traveled before with young children, you understand that it takes a bit of planning ahead – and sometimes – even bravery to conquer getting to your final destination. Whether you are traveling by plane, car, train, bus or even a boat, there are typically rules and regulations you should know about before leaving the house and heading out. Sometimes, all it takes is talking to fellow parents about tips and tricks they use while traveling, especially if you decide to travel via car, which puts you more in control of your environment.
So whether you are a seasoned traveler with kids or maybe a new parent that’s nervous about that upcoming trip to Disney World, here are a few tips for you.
Traveling by Airplane
While traveling via airplane to your destination might be the quickest way to travel, it also might take the most planning ahead. When you are traveling by airplane, you may run into issues regarding getting through security in a timely manner and you may have to pack less personal belongings than traveling by car, which can be problematic when you have an infant that requires a lot of stuff.
Be sure to plan ahead, read the rules and regulations that your airline provides and even talk to fellow parents that have traveled with babies before. Another measure you can take ahead of time is calling the airline or the airport a couple days before your flight to ensure there aren’t any questions or concerns that you may run into the minute before your flight takes off.
The TSA has even created an outline and guide to use if you are traveling with children, which can make the process a little easier. If your child has medical conditions, disabilities or mobility needs, there is a guide and detailed instructions on the best way to inform the TSA officer on your child’s needs, as well as the best way to get assistance.
If you are breastfeeding or traveling with breast milk, formula or other liquids and foods that your child requires, the TSA also provides a detailed instruction for that as well.
The security and screening process might seem intimidating because there’s many rules to follow, but on the TSA’s website, they even list the screening process for children’s items, technology and even what you child will have to go through as part of the screening process, which includes:
- If your child is 12 and under, they can leave their shoes, light jackets and headwear on during the screening
- During the screening process, children will not be separated from their parent/guardians
- Once near the metal detector, parents or guardians will need to remove infants and children from their carriers and carry them through the detector
- If you are wearing a sling to carry the child, you can use it but you may be subject to additional screening
- Modified screening procedures are in place to reduce the likelihood of a pat-down
To review the rules and regulations on what to bring on the plane itself, checking a bag or personal items, or even traveling with infants or possibly an unaccompanied minor, you should check with your airline to view all the different measures in place to help with your traveling experience. Depending on the airline service you choose, there may be different regulations required. And especially during the pandemic, you may have to check to see about mask requirements or possibly even COVID-19 testing requirements.
As with any trip traveling via plane, it’s always great to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport so that if any unforeseen things happen, you still have plenty of time to get to your gate and board your plane with ease. But let’s say you don’t have to travel across the country and you decide that a few hours in the car won’t hurt. What are some good ways to travel with children via the car?
Traveling by Car
While traveling long distances with a baby in the car might not seem like your first choice, there are some upsides to it and ways to have good experiences. Sometimes you may not have an option of flying or maybe you prefer driving, whatever the case may be, driving can be easier in a sense of not having to go through the big ordeal of security at an airport and it can make it much easier to bring more stuff along.
Driving for long distances with a baby strapped in a car seat can sometimes be challenging. Not all children can easily fall asleep in the car or stay asleep for lengthy amounts of time. And, just like us, they may start to get antsy after sitting for long periods of time. So what can you do?
Here are a few tips and tricks that you can try when traveling with your little one:
- When to hit the road: Even though this seems like it wouldn’t need a lot of thought, it may be a critical part of traveling with an infant or toddler; The more time your little one spends asleep in the car, the better the car ride will be.
- Plan out your road stops & prepare some food: Whether it’s a place to stop to eat lunch or a place to rest for the night, it’s a good idea to plan out your stops along your road trip. Instead of stopping at a busy restaurant for lunch, try stopping where there’s a park and your little one can stretch their legs. You can also stop at relatives, like grandma and grandpa’s, along the way to break the trip up into smaller trips.
- Another good idea is to bring snacks and food along the way that you know your baby will enjoy eating and won’t make too much of a mess in the car. It’s also good to bring plenty of water.
- Way to get your baby to sleep: Not all babies like to sleep in the car, but there are some tips and tricks you can try to get them to take a little snooze. Try playing soft music or audiobook with bedtime stories, try making sure the air temperature of the car isn’t too cold, and try driving when your baby has a full tummy right before nap time.
So, while it’s great to finally get out of the house and get on the open road, you may want to first plan ahead in order to make your trip go as smoothly as it can. However, as with any trip, it’s normal to experience unexpected hiccups along the way, so also remember to be flexible and take a deep breath – you are on vacation after all. So even though you might be on the fence about traveling with a baby, do your research and plan so that you feel more comfortable and ready to enjoy your trip.