If your kids nap well in the car, plan on doing long stretches on the road during nap time. If kids don't sleep well in the car, be sure to plan to be at your hotel (or wherever you're staying) at sleep times so they can stay in their usual routine.
Keeping track of littles
Toddlers and young kids love to run and roam. Be sure that they are always within sight. Use strollers if they'll stay in them.
Consider toddler leashes. I know they seem awful at first thought, but they work and kids often love them! I never needed one for my first - he was attached to parents at the hip and never wandered. My second was fast. And fearless. She would run between people in crowds and it was impossible to keep up with her without pushing people out of the way. She hated holding hands. She always figured out ways to climb out of strollers - and once had a nasty bruise on her forehead when she fell face down climbing out as I pushed the stroller. She loved the leash. It had a cute monkey backpack. She loved the freedom of being able to wander around and I loved that she couldn't get too far.
Parents have a number of ways to put phone numbers on their kids in case they get separated. Some simply put in on a piece of paper and trust that it will stay in a pocket until it's needed. Others write it in sharpie inside a piece of clothing or even on a child's arm. You can have jewelry engraved with name and phone number, much like a medical alert bracelet. Just look at Etsy or Pinterest and you'll come up with ideas!
It's a great idea to take pictures of everyone each morning in case someone gets separated from the group. Not only will you have a current picture for authorities to see what they look like, but you will also know what they were wearing at the time they were lost.
Cruise ship issues
Car seats (for planes, trains and automobiles)
I know it's tempting to save money and not get a seat for your child under 2 years of age on a plane, but it is recommended that all children are seated in a proper child safety restraint system (CRS). It must be approved for flight, but then you can then use the seat for land travel.
I always recommend age and size appropropriate car seats or boosters when traveling, even if you're in a country that does not require them. Allowing kids to ride without a proper seat will probably lead to problems getting them back in their safe seat when they get back home. Besides, we use car seats and booster seats to protect our kids, not just to satisfy the law.
So... my section header was meant to be cute. Trains don't have seatbelts, so car seats won't work. But they are a safe way to travel. Car Seat for the Littles has a great explanation on Travel by Train.
When should pregnant women and new babies avoid travel by air?
- Teach kids (and remind yourself) to not touch faces - your own or others. Our eyes, nose, and mouth are the portals of entry and exit for germs.
- Wash hands
- before and after eating.
- after blowing your nose.
- before and after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- before and after putting in contacts.
- after toileting or changing a diaper.
- when they're obviously soiled.
- Cover sneezes and coughs with your elbow unless you're cradling an infant in your arms. Infants have their head and face in your elbow, so you should use your hands to cover, then wash your hands well.
- Make sure all family members are up to date on vaccines.
- Everyone over 6 months should have a flu shot if it's flu season (fall-winter).
- Kids and adults should have all their routine vaccines.
- If you're traveling internationally, check out the country-specific recommendations for vaccines (and other interventions, such as insect repellents and prophylactic antibiotics). I've written more on this at Traveling Around the World. Stay Safe and Healthy! For personal accounts of traveling with a baby internationally, see International Travel with Baby and Not a Cruise from Dr. Dawn Baker at Practice Balance.
Have everyone, including young children, carry a form of identification that includes emergency contact information.
Create a medical history form that includes the following information for every member of your family that is travelling. Save a copy so you can easily find it on any computer in case of emergency.
- your name, address, and phone number
- emergency contact name(s) and phone number(s)
- immunization record
- your doctor's name, address, and office and emergency phone numbers
- the name, address, and phone number of your health insurance carrier, including your policy number
- a list of any known health problems or recent illnesses
- a list of current medications and supplements you are taking and pharmacy name and phone number
- a list of allergies to medications, food, insects, and animals
- a prescription for glasses or contact lenses
Take a look at some of the Holiday Health Hazards that come up at vacation times from Dr Christina at PMPediatrics so you can prevent accidents along the way.