A trip of a lifetime. Traveling overseas to a foreign land, visiting a new place and sampling different foods. Sounds like a heavenly vacation, right?
Well, it might not be heavenly if you're a child.
Traveling can be a stressful, chaotic and generally disruptive time for children. Leaving the safety of their home, friends and pets can make a child angry and scared. Having to stay in a place where people do not talk like they do, sleep in a strange room, and eat food they normally would not eat is very wearing on youngger children.
What can you do to make your child's trip a more pleasant one?
Depending on the age of your child, there are several things you can do to help them adjust to leaving the comfort of their home and enjoy venturing into a new world.
Even a newborn has to have a passport so be sure to get your child's passport done ahead of time. It can take up to 6 weeks for a passport to arrive using the standard service. They do have an expedited service which can take up to 2 weeks for a higher price, but planning ahead will save you the worry of not having your child's passport in time.
Bring enough baby food and formula for the duration of your flight. Call ahead to the airline and ask what is allowed on the plane. Recent events have caused a tightening of airline restrictions, so making a call first will make it easier for you to clear the security check and be on your way.
When picking the toys to bring on the plane, leave the musical and noisy ones at home. Your sanity, as well as your fellow passenger's, would be sorely tested after a few hours of same children's song playing over and over. Choose the quiet toys your baby likes the best to help entertain them when they are not sleeping.
Making sure you have all of your baby's supplies is crucial. Estimate one diaper for every hour of travel time plus one. You want to be sure to have enough diapers for the entire time you'll be traveling. Do not forget to add in the time spend waiting in airports. While some shops have emergency packs for babies, most do not carry diapers and such. You would not want to be almost to your destination and run out of diapers.
Bring plenty of wipes to clean up baby's bottom and messes. Have a couple of cloth diapers for use as burp cloths or to clean up big messes. Also brings plenty of plastic baggies to store dirty clothes, diapers, etc.
Bring an extra change or two of clothing for the baby in case of spills or diaper overflows. Do not forget an extra shirt for Mom as well.
Make sure you have pacifiers – if your baby uses them – teeth toys, and favorite blanket packed in the diaper bag. Children are soothed by familiar things, especially things that associate with home and comfort.
Toddlers and older
Many of the things above also apply to toddler and up. But there are a few more things to do to make your child's travel experience a fun one.
Depending on how old your child is, let them help plan your vacation. Knowing them to help decide which activities you do will go a long way in making them more comfortable with taking the trip.
Also, do not just plan a lot of adult oriented activities. Be sure to plan some events aimed at children; zoos, amusement parks and toy stores will keep your child's interest and make your trip more pleasant for all.
Do not be in a rush to make your destination. Make sure you leave in plenty of time to get to the airport and check in. Remember, the more anxious you are, the more anxious your child will be.
Bring snacks, small toys, coloring books and crayons on the plane with you. No one knows your child better than you, so pick things you know will keep them happy for hours.
Keeping your child entertained while traveling is esse4ntial to having a sane and enjoyable trip for both of you. Be sure to plan your vacation carefully so everyone has fun.