By Grainne Kelly, Bubblebum.us
Spring and summer are almost here and that means – it’s family travel time…time to book those hotel reservations and airline tickets and get the kids ready for the trek to a fun family destination. Spring and summer getaways are the perfect time for family bonding, however, keeping the kids entertained, calm, and safe while spending hours in the car, on flights or at the airport, can be challenging. Travel with kids can quickly turn sour and stressful without proper preparation. So here’s the scoop on some ways to keep the kids happy and secure throughout the entire travel experience.
Make a checklist – before getting started to ensure essential items like swimwear, sunscreen or special toys aren’t forgotten. Keep travel documents in a travel folder so everything is one place before departing. Being organized will help pre-trip preparations go smoothly.
Let children help pack their own bags – allow them to pick out a couple of things that they really want for entertainment. It might be a book, an electronic device, or even one of the many travel games that are available. Keeping them occupied on the flight will make the trip more pleasant for everyone on the flight.
Children should be responsible for their own bag or small backpack containing their chosen goodies. The smaller the child, the smaller the pack, but everyone carries their own. If the children are carrying their own stuff, they get to feel grown-up and it allows grown-ups to be hands-free to direct them safely onto trains, escalators, etc.
Security – Herding children through security isn’t as hard as it might seem. If more than one adult is available to help manage them, then it’s no problem at all, send the children through one at a time to the other adult who has gone through first. It’s another story if only one adult is traveling with multiple children, but it can be done. Send children through first to prevent them from following too closely which could require a second walk-through. Remind each child they are responsible for their own bags, older children should place their carry-on through the x-ray machine. Above all, explain how the security check works before arriving and remind them again while standing in the line. Knowing what to expect will make the process go much smoother.
Pre-Board and in-flight entertainment – As with a road trip, this is time spent as a family unit and should be welcomed and cherished because it allows time together and the opportunity to play loads of family games like traditional I-Spy, the wonderful Alphabet Game, and “I went to the shop yesterday.” Making up new games is a game within itself!
Ground Transportation – Bring a stroller and gate check it. Take an inexpensive umbrella-type stroller for use in airports with toddlers. Toddlers tend to get really tired with all the walking that is often required. They may want to walk part of the time, in which case the stroller can be used to hold carry-on bags. Umbrella strollers are easy to fold up and bring through security. Of course, if the kids can handle walking a long distance, it may be possible to travel without a stroller and have one less thing to haul around.
Escalators – Escalators take some practice. Hold hands with the little ones, or take the elevator if you have a stroller. There are almost always elevators near the escalators, which will be easier to use with toddlers in-tow.
ID for Kids – Be sure to have each child wear an ID bracelets as a safety precaution with pertinent contact information on it. Write personal information on the INSIDE of the bracelet for privacy. There are also some great products available which warn you if your child strays too far.
Snacks – Do not carry juice — it will just leak! Nowadays, airlines don’t allow more than 3 ounces of liquid through security. Grab bottled water after going through security before boarding the plane. Definitely bring kid friendly snacks that vacuum easily. Don’t bring anything that will melt and make a mess. Many airline foods won’t appeal to young children, besides most airlines don’t serve more than a bag of peanuts or pretzels.
Electronic Devices – Advise video-gamers that during certain times in the flight, an IPOD, DS or PSP with headphones is not allowed to be used. Explain that it might interfere with the Captain’s instruments and that he will ask passengers to turn them off. And of course, please be considerate to other passengers on board. The noise from cute little electronic games may seem harmless, but it may annoy a grumpy stranger nearby on the airplane. Turn off the volume, bring an inexpensive pair of headphones or leave the noisier devices at home.
Ear Pain – Children can be prone to ear pain in flight. There are several remedies to try. Children often have trouble with their ears during takeoff and especially during the decent. It helps to have them keep swallowing during these times. Infants often find relieve from breastfeeding, bottle feeding or you sucking on a pacifier during these times. Older children can try sucking on a lollipop or chewing gum to pop their ears.
Road Trip – If travel plans include a long road trip. Schedule plenty of restroom breaks along the way. Allow the kids to get out and stretch. Stop for meals and don’t just eat in the car. Focus on the journey, not on getting to the destination, by stopping at points of interest to take pictures and learn about the sites along the way. Take travel games, sing songs, tell stories to make the time pass quicker.
About Grainne Kelly and BubbleBum
Grainne Kelly is a Safe Kids USA certified CPST, travel expert, and the inventor of BubbleBum, the first ever inflatable booster seat, which has made traveling easier than ever! It’s the perfect solution for car rides, fly-ins with car rentals, cab rides and everyday car pooling. Weighing in at less than one pound,
BubbleBum can deflate in minutes making it simple to throw in a backpack or large purse. BubbleBum includes belt positioning clips in place of arm rests, so it’s possible to fit three boosters across the back seat of a car, minivan or SUV. BubbleBum was twice announced as an IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) “Best Bet” in their booster seat evaluation report, where they branded BubbleBum as one of the best for safety!
BubbleBum is sold online at www.bubblebum.us and is now conveniently available at Walmart stores nationwide!