Traveling with the kids this week? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips:
General air travel tips
Allow your family extra time to get through security — especially when traveling with younger children.
Have children wear shoes and outer layers of clothing that are easy to take off for security screening. Children younger than 12 years are not required to remove their shoes for routine screening.
Strollers can be brought through airport security and gate-checked to make travel with small children easier.
Talk with your children about the security screening process before coming to the airport. Let them know that bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) must be put in the X‑ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
Discuss the fact that it's against the law to make threats such as; "I have a bomb in my bag." Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can delay the entire family and could result in fines.
Arrange to have a car safety seat at your destination or bring your own. Airlines will typically allow families to bring a child's car safety seat as an extra luggage item with no additional luggage expense. Check the airline's website ahead of time so you know their policy before you arrive at the airport.
When traveling on an airplane, a child is best protected when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child. The car safety seat should have a label noting that it is FAA-approved. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be stowed in overhead bins or checked as luggage (usually without baggage fees) for use in rental cars, taxis or ride shares. Children who weigh more than 40 pounds can use the aircraft seat belt.
Although the FAA allows children younger than age 2 to be held on an adult's lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child could ride buckled in her car safety seat.
Alternatively, there are also some FAA-approved harnesses for older infants and toddlers that fold down in a small, compact bag for convenience.
Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum or drinking liquids with a straw.
Wash hands frequently and consider bringing hand-washing gel and disinfectant wipes to prevent illnesses during travel.
Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
Consult your pediatrician if flying within two weeks of an episode of an ear infection or ear surgery.
If traveling internationally, check with your doctor to see if your child might need additional vaccines or preventive medications, and make sure your child is up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Bring mosquito protection in countries where mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria are present.
In order to reduce jet lag, adjust your child's sleep schedule two to three days before departure. After arrival, be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.
Stay within arm's reach of children while swimming, as pools may not have safe, modern drain systems and both pools and beaches may lack lifeguards
Ensure that your child wears a life jacket when on smaller boats and set an example by wearing your life jacket.
Conditions at hotels and other lodging might not be as safe as those in the U.S. Carefully inspect for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
When traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels might not meet current safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options. (Also applies to travel in the U.S.)
Traveling by car
If you're traveling over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house, we offer these tips:
Dress for comfort not for show with the relatives. P.J.s are fine traveling wear. We also recommend slip on shoes so that when you do get out you don't have to retie shoes.
Prepare snack bags for the car with drinks, healthy snacks as well as some treats they don't always get.
Plan ahead multiple stops along the way to get out and stretch. Find a park to play if you're going to be traveling all day.
Charge electronics ahead of time. Buy car chargers and adapters that work with them or extra battery packs.
Load up electronics with new games, books and apps to make the trip special.
Electronics are great distractions but don't rely only on them. Have new things for kids to play with such as card games, mess-free drawing kits, word puzzle pads.
Create a reward system for good behavior. Stickers, lollypops, new toys go a long way.
Charge a fee each time someone says, "I'm bored" or "Are we there yet?"
Be reasonable about how many hours you can actually travel with kids in the car. Break up the trip into multiple days. If you need to do many hours to get to Grandma's, consider starting with kids in pajamas sleeping in their car seats before the crack of dawn instead of waiting and doing more driving at night when everyone has had all day to get cranky.