By Child Safety Expert Kimberlee Mitchell
Travelling with children is a challenge for any parent. Before setting out it’s important to realize that your vacation begins in your driveway, not at your final destination and that your attitude will set the tone for your whole family. That said, nothing brings a group down like being ill prepared for foreseeable travel trials. With a few tips and tricks you can navigate your crew on a pleasant journey while also making sure your crew is well prepared and as safe as possible.
The baby gear you “need” to make life easier is endless and discerning how to pare it down is a feat of it’s own. When possible choose to “staycation” or road trip it, as opposed to flying, so you can have the flexibility to go when and where you want to go and you can bring some of the comforts of home on the road.
- Before heading out, read up on preparing for your ride.
- When loading the minivan, pack it strategically so that nothing rises above the storage area behind the last row seat back. The goal is to eliminate potential projectiles flying over the seat in the event of a car crash. A good packing rule is, if it doesn’t fit in the back or under the seat don’t bring it.
My in-laws are across the country so road trips weren’t always an option. If you must fly be strategic and prepared.
- Do not put your home or destination address on your luggage tag. Instead, list a mobile phone number on your tag. This will allow airport officials to contact you when your luggage arrives.
- Take all meds in your carry-on in the event luggage is lost.
- Photograph your luggage before checking it in, which makes it easier to file a claim if it gets lost.
- Have your family wear easy to remove shoes for security check.
- Be sure to take advantage of the pre-board for families of young children.
- Bring stroller all the way up ramp and leave it before boarding. Airline will check it there and have ready for you when you disembark at your destination.
- For kids ages 4-11 (weight 40-100, height up to 57”) the Bubblebum ($29) blow-up booster is ideal for travel in airplanes, cabs and rental cars. Weighing less than half a pound, the light, compact design means that when deflated and folded, it can fit comfortably into backpack ready to inflate quickly and easily.
- Bringing your child’s car seat onto the plane is the safest choice for your baby as sudden turbulence can be life threatening. Your baby will also sleep better in the familiar car seat!
- Always accompany your child to the bathroom on the plane.
Whether you are vacationing at a hotel, a condo or your mother in law’s home you can childproof on the fly. Vigilant supervision is key so always be sure to pack the baby monitor.
- Making sure your child has a safe sleep environment is vital. Many hotels will provide cribs for guest use. Call ahead to reserve one but bring your own tight fitting crib sheet and bedding. I preferred to use my own pack & play, which can be checked at airport like baggage. It’s a lot to lug but worth it since kids my kids were already used to sleeping in it.
- Anytime and anywhere your baby sleeps supervision is critical—especially if that room is not childproofed. Pack the baby monitor so you can keep an eye on him, even in the dark. *Vtech’s Safe&Sound Pan & Tilt Video Monitor ($179) is so hi-tech it has night vision so you can see baby better via the parent unit than with the naked eye. Be sure monitor and the electrical cords are at least 3 feet from crib so it’s out of reach. Using a monitor allows you to put the baby to bed on time and stay up to visit with friends and family.
- Keep little ones from going outside and from getting into closets, with the handy Super Stopper. Childproof windows, sliding glass doors and sliding mirrored closets in room where baby sleeps. No adhesive, easy to pack in a small zip lock and simple to use on the fly. Just push suction cup (per manufacturer’s instructions) onto glass and it sticks and locks.
- Pack some Socket Lockits and Plug Guards so you can easily childproof the electrical outlets in the room where your child will be sleeping. Takes less than one minute to install and safeguards outlets with electrical cords engaged.
- Keep the bedroom door where baby is sleeping cracked but locked with a Door Monkey. This helps protect little fingers from painful door pinch injuries and allows the door to be open while still securing the room. My kids always wanted the door cracked in an unfamiliar place.
- First, take a vacation from Facebook while traveling. When you post that you’re heading out of town or you “check-in” many miles from home, you leave your abode open to invasion. It’s best to delay these posts until your return.
- During travels, beware of free Wi-Fi connections no matter how safe it may seem. Public Wi-Fi is inherently unsecure and experts warn against making any financial transactions or using credit cards on public Wi-Fi, which can provide identity thieves with the information they need to go on a shopping spree with your money.
Child ID Bracelets:
We’ve all had those moments at the crowded beach, an amusement park or a busy mall where you turn around and your child is not there. You think, “This is it.” It’s a hideous fear and thankfully most of us find our child minutes later. ID bracelets are a great safeguard.
- Vital ID will provide your child with your cell phone with them at all times. Kept securely INSIDE the wristband, the information is kept discreetly out of sight and can only be seen when removed from the band. It’s comfortable to wear, 100% waterproof is perfect for use on vacation when passing through busy airports or on crowded beaches.
First Aid Kit:
It’s inevitable someone gets a finger slammed in the door, a splinter or gas pains due to eating on the road. Being prepared makes this a little less upsetting for you and the afflicted!
- Having ample Band-Aids, Neosporin, superglue, Advil, icepacks, Children’s fever reducer, tweezers, gas relief drops, painkiller, etc. in a first aid kit gives peace of mind.
- Travel with all the medical and insurance cards and be knowledgeable about how to handle ER visits away from home.
I store a “travel bag” inside my luggage so every time we pack for a trip I have all I need ready to go. We always use at least one of the kit’s items on every trip. Along with that “travel bag” I store the Family Travel Journal as its become tradition for everyone to make an entry during each trip. It’s always fun to review as we set out on another adventure. Oddly it’s always the negative exploits that become the most memorable and hilarious. Pack smart and employ these safety tips but above all — bring your sense of humor and an open mind.
*Disclosures: I only mention products I believe to offer effective safety benefits to consumers. All written content and opinions are my own. I was provided one Bubblebum, two Socket Lockits and 2 Plug Guards for review purposes. This is a sponsored post by VTech.
Now one lucky Go Grow Go reader will win a VTech Safe&Sound Video Monitor. Here’s How:
- Follow @VTechPhones & Child Safety Expert, Kimberlee Mitchell @ChildSafetyGuru.
- Tweet a safety tip you learned from this blog with the event tag to participate #VTechBaby.
- LIKE Kimberlee’s FB page.
- Prizing: 1 winner receives the new VTech Safe&Sound Pan & Tilt baby monitor