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Traveling with Children

The better you plan and the more aware you are of safety, the happier travel will be for both you and your child. Try to keep a normal routine as much as possible. For example:

  • Always maintain discipline during an outing or extended trip. Children need and want to have the structure they are used to. Do not bend all the rules just because the family is away from home.
  • Don't switch over to fast food or junk food during trips. If you are taking a long trip in a car, stop regularly for sit down meals.
  • Don't let your child go to a restroom alone until he or she is about 6 years old. Only allow a child go alone when you are familiar with the place, know it is clean, and can see the door clearly.

Car Travel

  • All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. Never place a child in a rear-facing safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle if it has an airbag. Most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • Set a good example and always wear a seat belt.
  • During longer trips, allow for frequent rest stops. Let children get out of the car and get some exercise for a few minutes.
  • Point out interesting sights along the way and keep children occupied with favorite CDs or DVDs.
  • Always keep cold water in a Thermos and bring disposable plastic cups. Bring healthy snack foods for long trips. Keep a wet washcloth or towelettes in the car for sticky, sweaty hands and faces.
  • Never leave children alone in the car even for a minute.
  • Always have a first aid kit in your car.

Air Travel

  • Some car safety seats are FAA-approved to be used on planes. Check on this when you buy your car safety seat. Let the airline know ahead of time if you are bringing a car safety seat.
  • Changes in air pressure changes during landing can cause your child’s ears to plug up or hurt. Swallowing, chewing gum, or sucking on a straw to drink juice or water can help.
  • Most children are used to getting some exercise each day, but they may be expected to remain seated for hours while traveling. If you have airplane layovers, take long walks in the airport.
  • Pack some toys to keep your child occupied during the flight.
  • Car rental agencies generally have child safety seats available with their cars. If you do not bring your own, reserve the safety seat when you reserve the car. Call ahead to the local agency where you will pick up the car to confirm that the child safety seat is available.

International Travel

  • Make sure your child is up-to-date on her vaccinations. Check with your healthcare provider to see if she might need additional vaccines. Bring a copy of the up-to-date record of your child’s vaccinations with you.
  • Plan ahead for things that could cause health problems, such as high altitude, strong sunshine, and water safety.
  • To help prevent diarrhea, do not let your child eat food from street vendors. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables and raw or undercooked meat. Drink only bottled water, boiled water, or water treated with chlorine.
  • Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved cotton shirts and long pants.
  • Adjust your child's sleep schedule 2 or 3 days before you leave. After arrival, arrange for your child to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to help adjust to the new time zone.
  • Make sure that each child has an ID and contact numbers in his clothing or pockets.

For more information, contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-05-16
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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