Travelling with a child? All you need to know

by Dr. Sindhu M.V.

Travelling with a child can be exciting in many ways for the child and the family as well, however it is most of times a bit challenging.  But some pre-planning can reduce the stress significantly and can be more pleasant Here are few points which will help you plan in a better way.

Planning a trip:

  • Avoid long trips. Speak to your travel agent and split the long journey itinerary to include play time, child-oriented visiting places(include fantasy parks, magic shows etc).
  • Try to Pre-book everything before like entry tickets, commuting vehicles, transport, hotels, local sightseeing etc.
  • Avoid packing the whole day with visiting places and travelling. Avoid early morning activities if young kids. Few hrs in a day can just be reserved for doing nothing and leaving the child to relax in their own way since it's a new place.
  • Make sure they have good sleep at night to avoid morning blues and delays.
  • Choose accommodations which are baby friendly and has access to kid play areas. Hire baby furniture’s like pram, stroller etc.
  • For elder children, plan the whole trip after discussing with them.
  • Young children can sometimes be apprehensive, so explain them where you are travelling, how long is the travel time, security check at airports, what to expect etc.
  • Carry bright colored cloths, so it is easier to spot them in the crowd and make sure one parent or guardian is responsible in turns to avoid confusion of responsibility and avoid missing them in crowds.
  • Carry adequate supply of disposable nappies and wipes.
  • Carry adequate toys, offer only one toy at a time to keep the child engaged, replace it with a new one if child is bored
  • Make sure kids have adequate time to have breakfast and meals amidst busy itinerary and provide them snacks at their regular time to avoid fussiness and irritable. A hungry child can freak you out and raise tempers and can spoil your holiday.
  • Identify the cues for hunger, sleep, rest early and plan activities accordingly.

Precautions during feeding and drinking

  • Carry plenty of water (either boiled and cooled or sealed water bottles).
  • For infants carry home made ready to eat items which are easy to prepare (like porridges).
  • Either carry sealed Tetra-pack milk containers or milk powders for instant milk.
  • Feeding during takeoff and landing of flite reduces the ear discomfort. Carry prepared bottles of water or liquids.
  • Freshly cooked food during travel might not be possible. So avoid raw, uncooked, reheated foods. For older children, try to avoid new food that's never tried before. Avoid spicy food and avoid too much of snacks. All these can start indigestion and start the cycle of vomiting, stomach pain or loose stools. Food contamination is quite common and don't risk food from unhygienic sources, street side food etc
  • Maintain Hand hygiene and reinforce using hand sanitizer when needed.

Do I need to carry medicines?

Always better to carry routine medications to avoid panic situations.

  • Carry paracetamol drops, suspensions or tablets based on the child’s weight as prescribed by your pediatrician.
  • Carry a digital thermometer.
  • Carry ORS sachets or rehydrating solutions.
  • Carry domperidone / ondansetron suspensions as prescribed by your doctor for vomiting.
  • Carry insect repellents, anti-itch, antiseptic lotions.
  • If travelling to sunny warm areas- follow sun safety rules- adequate sunscreen lotion with SPF>30, full covering clothing, sunglasses, hats, always seek shades.
  • For motion sickness- Consult your doctor prior to travel and carry medicines. Be seated in the direction of travel. If child had vomiting, make child relaxed, stay seated and focus on a fixed direction.
  • Drowning, burns, falls, accidental poisoning are common hazards. Avoid children near unfenced pools, water bodies, keep them away from animals especially monkeys and dogs.
  • Special needs children should carry their daily medications like anticonvulsants for seizures, Inhalers for asthma, Insulin for Type 1 DM.
  • Sickle cell disease children while travelling on flight may need extra oxygen.

How to make a fun filled experience?

  • Involve older children in planning the travel, make them note down the events in their travel dairy.
  • Prebrief them regarding whole process of travelling like security check in, boarding the plane etc.
  • Carry extra toys, books, activity supplies and download music, drawings to engage the child.
  •  Avoid any screentime and involve the child in conversation, educating about the place, recap of the places visited and names of places etc. Having said that, those kids who are used to some regular screen time can become really fussy and throw tantrums if completely avoided and might need just adequate screentime to avoid meltdowns and tantrums.
  • Have a very relaxed schedule with plenty of time for last minute readjustments.