Spring break is approaching, and a family trip might be in your future. Whether it’s a short trip to visit grandparents or a trip across the country, traveling with children sometimes can be challenging. If you’re planning a family trip, consider choosing a destination where there’s a good mix of activities for children of all ages.
Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, the key to an enjoyable trip with your family is to plan ahead. This will help ensure a successful, fun vacation and reduce the stress associated with traveling as a family.
- Talk to your kids about the trip. Explain where you’re going, whom 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.
- Bring music, audio books, DVDs and portable DVD players. You might have some of these resources already, but don’t forget the library also is a great, free resource (especially when you’re already paying for a vacation). Adding a few new things to the mix will hold your kids’ attention longer than a movie they’ve watched dozens of times.
- Allow your child to choose some toys he or she wants to take on the trip.
- Create a travel art kit. Fill a bag with art supplies like as crayons, stickers, paper and coloring books.
- Pack plenty of healthy snacks and water for the trip.
- Make goody bags. Collect items from dollar stores or party stores like small toys and games to surprise your kids when boredom strikes. Make sure the items aren’t easily broken or choking hazards.
- Try to keep your children’s sleeping and eating schedules as normal as possible. They’ll behave better if they follow their regular routines.
- Pack an easily accessible change of clothes (for you and your child) in case of car or air sickness.
Car travel tips
- Children should be properly buckled in the correct type of car seat for their age, weight and height. They should also stay buckled in the car seat for the entire trip.
- Be a good role model. When adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts.
- When traveling in the car with small children, allow extra time to reach your destination. Make frequent stops to stretch. Plan fun stops along the way (parks, local landmarks, etc.)
- Pack smart, and store loose items so they can’t become flying projectiles and cause injury in a crash or if the driver has to brake suddenly.
Air travel tips
- The safest place for an infant or child during turbulence or an emergency is in his or her own seat, in a properly fitted, buckled and FAA-approved child seat.
- Using your child seat on the plane means you’ll also have your own seat along for safe car trips when you reach your destination.
- Booster seats can’t be used on airplanes. Make sure bigger kids are buckled in using the airplane seatbelt.
- Carry current photos of your children in case they wander away from you.
- Plan activities during the flight in 10-minute segments. This is the average length of a child’s attention span. Be sure to bring enough activities in case of delays.
We put together this helpful infographic to help you remember our tips for traveling with kids.
– Lisa Klindt Simpson, coordinator, Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin
Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin is led by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The four-county coalition (Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha) works to prevent accidental injuries, the leading cause of death among children age 14 and younger. The coalition combines the expertise of community agencies and individuals to prevent childhood injuries through collaboration, education, policy and advocacy initiatives.