Traveling as a working mom is one thing; traveling with kids is another beast entirely. Believe me, I know. I’ve flown to Australia for a speaking engagement with my 9-year-old son.
There’s sun, hydration, unprotected bodies of water and feeding on the go, not to mention navigating the usual trains, planes and automobiles. But don’t let the variables overwhelm you. Traveling with kids can be magical as it was before them. Just keep these tips in your back pocket.
1. Respect the sun
First thing’s first: Tame those rays. Sunscreen may seem pretty obvious, but the SPF we all know and love only refers to ingredients that block UVB (the rays that burn), not UVA (the rays that age). It’s important to look for broad-spectrum sunscreen that covers both; zinc is crucial too. Use hats to cover little ones and try UV-protective clothing. Oh and it’s true that sunscreen is less effective when expired.
2. To fly or not to fly?
You can fly when your baby is as young as a week old; whether you’ll want to or not is another story. If you do, consider purchasing an extra seat to increase room and safety (more room for that diaper bag!). Also pack some sanitizer. You'll both be better protected from germs after wiping down the armrests and tray tables.
3. Meds 101
Your medicine at home is properly stored (or so I hope!) but what’s the plan when summer travel shakes up routines? Where do you store meds in a hotel room or rental car? Where do your summer guests keep medication in your home? Be prepared for unfamiliar surroundings by keeping any medication locked in a glove compartment, in the hotel safe or ask guests to utilize a certain spot for their own medication that’s out of Junior’s reach.
4. ID is key
In addition to prescription medicines, nasal sprays, ointments and any over-the-counter (OTC) meds pose a danger to kids. Clearly mark what is and isn’t medicine. This is particularly important as many meds look like candy to unsuspecting tots. Tylenol and Tic-Tacs, Sudafed and cinnamon Red Hots, Delsym and orange soda — you got the point. Educate your children and better yet, keep medication locked up and out of reach.
5. Buckle up
You may have car seats fastened perfectly in your vehicles at home, but what happens when you've got a rental? Read up ahead of your trip so you know just how to buckle up no matter your wheels.
6. Get those 40 winks
A consistent sleep routine matters! It may be hard to maintain one while traveling, but keeping your kids on their regular nap schedule will serve you all well. Plan activities around nap time, make sure you can bed down somewhere quiet and bring along familiar toys and blankets. Any consistency helps.
7. Watch that temperature
Children heat up five times faster than adults because they have fewer sweat glands and a different body-to-surface ratio. That means their sweating isn’t really an effective cooling mechanism and they aren’t quite able to tell us when they’re too hot. As you’re traveling with family, be very wary of leaving your kids inside a hot car for ANY amount of time. That includes quick pitstops at the convenience store or rest stop.
Let these tips guide you into the summer months with some peace of mind. Keep in mind that travel is never perfect, but regardless of what might not go according to plan, you’re making memories and exposing your children to incredible experiences. And that sounds like a good time to me.