Agents working with young families can earn some real points by providing tips on traveling with the kids. Many new parents simply struggle with the logistics of traveling with a newborn on the first few trips. Here are a few tips for traveling families that will help ease the trials and tribulations that you can pass along.
1. How can I change a diaper in that teeny tiny not-so-clean airplane bathroom?
Bathrooms in airports are generally big and clean. Use them before you get on to the plane. While on the airplane, try to use the Business Class bathrooms. They are generally bigger and cleaner as they are used by fewer people. If you plan to travel a lot, you might want to invest in a diaper bag that also functions as a changing station. There are a number of them out on the market, such as the Studio Cherie Diaper Bag (especially designed for changing diapers on airplanes) .
2. Airplane seat belts are designed for adults. How can they possibly keep my two year old safe?
Good news. Consider purchasing or renting a CARES Aviation Restraint for your trip. CARES is a device that attaches to the airplane seatbelt, turning it into a 5-point harness. It is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use on all planes, weighs less than 1 lb, and is designed for children 22-44 lbs.
3. I’m afraid my baby will cry for the entire flight!
Give your baby a soother or something to drink during take-off and landing so their ears won’t get plugged. If your baby cries during the flight, go for a walk. Even if it doesn’t stop the crying it will appear that you are trying to do something and should stave off glaring stares from your neighbors! Alternatively, pay a visit to your neighborhood hardware store and buy a few dozen sets of earplugs. Pass them out to the nearby passengers. It’s a great ice breaker and they won’t be annoyed if your baby cries.
4. How will I keep my toddler entertained during the flight?
Bring a small DVD player with a new DVD. Although most planes now have personal screen in the seats, you can’t always find a show that will interest your child. Coloring books, Lego blocks, puzzles and books are also life savers.
5. My baby has just started sleeping through the night. Is the time change going to mean a big step back?
Try taking a red-eye flight. Although you’ll be tired, your child will sleep better if they can retain their natural circadian rhythm. As a bonus, you won’t have to entertain them.
6. I’m traveling on my own with my baby. How am I going to manage a car seat, stroller, pack n play, luggage, carry-on and my baby?
There is no need to haul your entire nursery along for the trip. Most cities have baby equipment rental companies where you will be able to get top-of-the-line baby gear delivered right to your hotel or cruise ship. This will also save you from having to pay the excess baggage fees that most airlines have now implemented.
7. Do a stroller and car seat count towards my baggage allowance?
Different airlines have different policies. Visit your airlines’ website well before your flight and search for the section on traveling with children. It will tell you stroller restrictions, weight limits and special seat bookings.
8. We have a two hour stop-over. How do I entertain my child?
Ease the pain! Get your toddler a Trunki Ride-On Suitcase. They can pack it with all of their own special things, and they can ride it around the airport while you’re waiting for the plane. It also makes a great seat and comes with a handy strap so you can pull them too! You can also bring a balloon for entertainment- it will give them a focus for their running. Easy to transport and you can throw it in the garbage just before the flight.
9. It’s a long flight for a small child. I just know he’s going to get bored and cranky.
Bring snacks! It’s amazing how much latitude you can get by presenting your child with his or her favorite treat! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Planes are dehydrating and a dehydrated child is often a cranky child.
10. I’m traveling alone. What do I do with my baby when I need to go to the bathroom?
Ask a flight attendant to watch your child. Better yet, hope Barbara Walters is on your flight. She recently commented that she always loves to hold babies when she is on the plane!
Shana Cherry (firstname.lastname@example.org), after years of travel experience, has founded and is Co-Owner of Wee Travel and runs the Vancouver office. She is the mother of one travelling 7 year old!