Families may stumble across various challenges while traveling with children, especially with infants and toddlers. Parents often need to adjust their normal routine in order to suit the needs of the child. Children demand special attention and activities to ease their preoccupied minds. Each mode of transportation requires a set of rules and considerations that may cause setbacks and delays if not properly addressed ahead of time. Dealing with the airport screening process, passport dilemmas, special needs assistance, children-restraint devices, entertainment, and knowing what and what not to bring on a trip can be troublesome for parents. Conducting adequate research and securing a child's safety will not only ease the minds of worrisome parents, but ensure a more enjoyable traveling experience, regardless if traveling by car, airplane, train, bus, or boat.
The Challenges of Air Travel with Children of All Ages
Flying offers a level of convenience with the amount of time spent actually traveling to a certain destination. Preparing for a flight requires understanding the screening process conducted at airports, and what parents can do to reduce setbacks and delays. Children require extra care, and can increase stress levels once entering the gate. For instance, infants and toddlers will need baby formulas on extended flights. Parents should inquire with the airline about baby meals beforehand to ensure their child does not misbehave in-flight. Child-restraint system (CRS) devices should be utilized on-board to minimize injuries during turbulence. Bringing toys, books, games, pacifiers and bottles will keep children busy during the flight. Additionally, families should consider booking a continuous flight without changing planes to minimize boredom. Seat selection should also be considered according to the child's fears and bemusement. Give the child gum to relieve ear pain while the plane ascends during takeoff. When in doubt, ask for assistance, especially for special needs children or those who require strict medical attention.
The Challenges of Car Travel with Children of All Ages
Road trips, whether by car, train, or bus, can easily cause problems for families with antsy children. Children usually enjoy moving around from time to time, which can cause problems if traveling to a different state. In these instances, it's advisable for parents to utilize and familiarize themselves with adequate car seat protection. Parents should make frequent stops to allow the child to stretch, walk around, and use the restroom. Always bring toys, games, books, and snacks to ease the child's anxiety. Communicate with the child to see if anything may be bothering him or her. Use sunblock or shades to protect the child from sun exposure. Never leave a child unattended in a car. Play fun imaginative games, such as "I Spy," or sing songs that the child enjoys. Secure loose objects in the event the driver needs to use their brakes. Remain vigilant and relax during the trip to keep the child at ease. If the parent worries, then it's likely the child will react in the same way.
The Challenges of Train Travel with Children of All Ages
Families can save a lot by simply choosing to travel by train to their destination. Train travel offers more security than traveling by automobile; however, there are still some things to consider when bringing a child aboard. For instance, even steeper discounts are available for families. College students receive a 15% discount, and AAA members are offered 10% off their fare. Families should consider arriving early to ensure no setbacks or delays occur due to special accommodations needed for infants or toddlers. Do not redeem online purchases until the day of departure to avoid possible service charges if a cancellation arises. Bring a carry-on full of toys, games, books, and snacks to minimize the child's boredom between transit zones. Additionally, bring pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to make the child feel comfortable for extended trips where naps or overnight sleep is required. Bring a stroller to maneuver around the train or make periodic walks to help the child stretch. Pack plenty of diapers and wipes for infants and toddlers. Communicate with the child before leaving to ensure that he or she understands the details behind the commute.
Challenges of Bus Travel with Children of All Ages
Similarly to train travel, a bus fare can provide an entertaining form of transportation for road trips. Passengers can look outside the window at the landscape of the countryside if the destination allows for it. Children may find this view amusing, so it would be considerable to choose a window seat. Buses make frequent stops in metropolitan and suburban areas, which could pose safety risks for families traveling through crime-ridden cities. Prepare to change buses along the way if traveling across several states. Additionally, buses are the most crowded and uncomfortable mode of transport. Parents may need to hold their infants or toddlers the entire way. Pay for the extra seat, even if the child can travel for free. Bring extra clothes and blankets to keep warm if traveling overnight. Talk to the local people who get on the bus and play travel games to keep the transport interesting. Bring fruit snacks, cookies, and other non-perishable foods to manage the child's hunger. Additionally, prepare diapers and wipes for infants and toddlers. Exercise precaution by communicating with the child and inquiring about their needs.
Challenges of Boat Travel with Children of All Ages
Boat travel can offer a relaxing experience on the water, whereby families can prepare to travel and enjoy their destination. While traveling on a boat does not pose any more danger than any other form of transportation, it still requires a measure of security to ensure no injuries occur during transit. Parents can take extra precautions to "child-proof" their boats by removing anything that could be potentially dangerous within the child's reach, including winches, ropes, gear boxes, ground tackle, and topside equipment. Remove all emergency gear, such as flares, flare guns, and EPIRBS out of reach of children. Invest in a life-jacket and life-boat in case the boat encounters a rift that would cause it to sink. Bring lots of fluids and food that would last far longer than the expected trip. Do not forget navigational equipment and maps if traveling to an unknown or untraveled destination. Pack sunscreen, swimming gear, extra dry clothes, rain gear, and night-time materials, such as a pillow and blanket to remain comfortable in the cabin. Pack toys, pacifiers, games, and other forms of entertainment that do not pose a potential safety hazard. Prepare for the child's needs by packing enough formula and diapers to last throughout the trip.
Follow these links to learn more about traveling with children aboard any mode of transportation:
Travel Trips for Families with an Individual on the Autism Spectrum (PDF): An extensive document detailing the important measures to take for families traveling with an autistic child.
Adoption ARK: Traveling Tips: An informative list of traveling tips for families newly formed from the adoption process, including what to do prior to travel, what clothes to pack, airplane and in-country tips, instructions on meeting your child, and travel insurance recommendations.
American Academy of Pediatrics: Traveling Safety Tips: The AAP recommends certain traveling safety tips, including traveling by airplane, traveling by car, and international travel.
Federal Government Resources for Americans Traveling Abroad (PDF): A comprehensive list of federal resources, including contact information to organizations dedicated to traveling with children, pets, special needs individuals, and students.
Traveling Safely with Children: The Basics: An article dedicated to teaching parents the essentials to traveling safely in vehicles with children.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Traveling with Children: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection addresses a frequently asked question (FAQ) regarding legal guardian paperwork and a child under the age of 19 who wishes to cross the U.S. border.
Transportation Security Agency: Traveling with Kids: The TSA offers suggestions for parents traveling by airplane with children, including what to expect with the screening process.
Federal Aviation Administration: Child Safety on Airplanes: An article addressing the importance of using a government child-restrained system (CRS) device for children traveling by airplane and wishing to avoid turbulence.
Canada: Traveling Tips: A government-sponsored website providing answers to those traveling to Canada, including educating oneself on the rules and regulations of Canada, rules for the Trusted Travelers Program for United States citizens, passport guidelines, and other citizenship-related issues.
Traveling Safely with Infants & Children: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers traveling advice for parents who bring infants and children on an extended trip.
Traveling to Walt Disney World: Infants and Toddlers FAQ: A comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about traveling to Walt Disney World with infants and toddlers, including preparation tips, what to see when you arrive, and how to introduce your child to characters without frightening them.
Teens Health: Travel Tips: An article dedicated to preserving the safety of teen's well-being while traveling, including methods to address common travel problems, what to eat and drink, logging all activities, and basic safety advice.
50 Top Tips for Traveling with Kids: The Observer, a United Kingdom news column, offers 50 tips for traveling with kids, including important tips for planning a move, what to do while on the go, air travel advice, public transportation guidelines, and important steps to eating healthy while on the road.
Six Tips for Traveling with an Autistic Child: Traveling with children can be challenging enough, but it can be especially demanding for parents with special needs children.
Travel Safety Tips for Kids: A USA Today article addressing general safety tips for parents traveling with kids on a long trip, including road and air travel.
ABC News: Tips for Traveling With Children: ABC Action News presents a story for concerned parents who wish to traveling safely with their children using all modes of transportation and the methods to minimizing hassles.
Tips for Traveling Abroad: An important list of traveling tips for parents traveling with children, including paperwork pitfalls, basic safety advice, and general advice for safely traveling abroad.
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