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Taking the Show on the Road: Traveling with the Whole Family!

March 5, 2012

A snow-free February break meant an indoor stay-cation for many Massachusetts families! As a result, some of you are probably thinking of planning a get-away for April break or the summer. We hope these tips for managing travel with babies and children will help you to get on the road!

If you’re flying, your time on the plane may be only a few hours long, but most parents count it as the most stressful part of their journey. Plan ahead by calling the airline to make your reservation, and giving them the ages of the children you are bringing. They may have age restrictions or may be able to give you a bulkhead seat with a bassinet if you are bringing an infant. Plus, they’ll be able to secure a window seat for your toddler, to keep any fussing or tantrums further away from other passengers. Don’t seat small children on the aisle, as their hands and feet may get in the way of the food and beverage carts, leading to bruises and tears!

Remember to bring the essentials in your carry-on, such as diapers, wipes, and extra milk or formula. Milk and formula are not subject to the same TSA restrictions as other fluids. But powdered formula saves space and is lighter than pre-made formula. Be sure to request as much water or juice as your toddler needs from the flight attendants, as staying hydrated in-flight is important! Snacks are important, too, and the airline may not have kid-friendly items on hand. Take your kid’s favorite snacks, and plenty of them! Make sure to bring any blankets or lovies that will soothe your child and help him sleep. For toddlers and older kids, bring a couple of favorite toys or games.

Many parents we know wouldn’t dream of flying without a few cartoons and movies queued up on the laptop. Headphones are a great way to keep neighbors happy and kids love gadgets. Practice using them before the flight so your little ones get comfortable having something covering his ears. (My kids decorated their headphones with stickers and quickly got over the apprehension.) Also, did you know airplanes have a special outlet for your electronics? Hit your local electronic store to get the right adaptor or plug for all your gadgets to avoid worrying about the battery life! If this is not an option, you may consider investing in another battery or a portable battery like the Mophie Juice Pack ( to increase the battery life.

And whether you’re flying or not, packing wisely is key. Bring durable, stain-resistant clothing that can be easily spot-cleaned and dried overnight. If you’re headed to the beach, make sure you have smaller beach towels for kids, plenty of sunscreen, and a change of swimsuits for each child. Floppy sunhats and light cover-ups for fairer kids will come in handy. Spray suntan lotions work great if your little one does not like getting all lathered up. And some companies sell suntan lotion for the face in the form of a stick that’s fun for kids to apply themselves.

And a stroller is essential whether you’re bound for a big city or sandy beach. You can even keep your kids in the stroller in the airport until you board the plane! Did you know the staff will can store it in front with them or have it stored in the cabin below? This is a much better alternative to checking your stroller. Years ago I checked my stroller with my bags and my sister decided to keep my 2 month-old niece in her stroller until we boarded. When we arrived in Florida, my sister was handed her stroller when departing the plane and I was told my stroller didn’t make the flight because “the cabin was full”. I spent the first 2 days of my vacation without a stroller. Lugging a 1 ½ year old active boy was not fun! Most importantly, take a stroller that’s easy to collapse and unfold, and remember comfy sneakers for kids who will be walking. In either case, make sure to bring a small first-aid kit, prescriptions, and children’s pain relievers and fever reducers. Trust me, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!

Photography courtesy of Flickr.

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