Tips for Traveling Long-Distance with Kids
Traveling with children can be daunting, but the benefits are immeasurable. Besides cultivating an open mind, travel inspires in children a unique sense of wonder and curiosity for new cultures. The New York Times reports that traveling offers a respite from the physical and mental stress that our habitual environments bring. The social and emotional experience that traveling provides is something that can benefit the entire family.
Long distance travel, in particular, teaches children to adapt socially and emotionally to unfamiliar situations. It promotes self-confidence and independence and provides uninterrupted bonding time together. However, traveling with kids can also be rife with potential hazards. Proper preparation is the key to ensuring the success of your next trip. Here are four tips for traveling long-distance with kids:
1. Bring the right bag
A large and spacious daypack is essential for fuss-free travel with your children. Whether on the road, in the airport, or transiting between train platforms, you will need easy access to all your necessities, such as water bottles, alcohol wipes, diapers, and snacks. Patagonia’s line of Refugio backpacks illustrates how bags can be reliable for parents by providing two large stretch pockets to hold multiple water bottles, front compartments to store essential documents, and a removable chest strap for comfort. A functional backpack is an excellent addition to the pointers featured in our blog’s “15 Stress Free Packing Tips” post.
Long-distance travel can take a toll on kids. Their exhaustion, when unmanaged, can lead to tantrums and other undesirable behaviors. Because children have limited energy and need to rest throughout the day, they need a space to rest and recuperate. Modern designs of travel gear available in the market today provide tools to help kids relax as parents continue to enjoy their destination. As the pushchairs from iCandy’s line-up demonstrate, travel systems offer small children the rest they need and enable them to sleep comfortably whether on cobblestone streets or cemented roads. These pushchairs are also multi-functional and come with fleece-lined carrycots that can be used for overnight sleeping in hotel rooms. There is no need to plan activities around your baby’s energy when they have a place to rest on the go.
No matter how safe your destination may be, getting separated from your child can put a bitter end to your itinerary. It’s also important to know that all over the world, there are scams that can hurt or harm your children. Inform your children by talking to them before starting your trip about your strategy for these situations. Giving them pointers such as putting away their electronics as they walk, staying close to family members, and avoiding strangers, can help them become more proactive about their safety. Letting your children know what they should be wary of, such as bracelet scams or card swindles, helps ensure they are kept out of harm’s way. Talk to your younger children about the importance of communicating and how to do so, and give them tools such as a bracelet card to help them reach you in case they get lost.
Long-distance travel can pose serious health consequences to children without proper preparation. Small children cannot consistently articulate their feelings, making it challenging to recognize unfamiliar illnesses. The CDC recommends making an appointment with your child’s primary care physician at least a month before you leave for a long-haul trip. Your child’s doctor can provide the information, medicines, and vaccine your child may need depending on your destination and itinerary. Before commencing your travel, list the addresses and contact details of the nearest hospitals in your destination area if something amiss occurs. It is also a good idea to get travel insurance and pack a travel health kit in preparation for unexpected events.
Preparation is part of the journey and maximizes the benefits of long-distance travel for your children. The opportunity to travel to farther places with your children diminishes as they grow older and their schedules fill up, so it’s good to start as early as possible.
About the Author
Althea Fuller is a freelance writer and educator. Her passion is traveling the world and writing about her trips. As a parent of two young adults, she is an advocate for family travel and cultural exchanges.
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