It is the time of year when your Facebook account and Instagram feed are flooded with pictures of friends and family enjoying their perfect beach vacation. Lots of pictures of children playing in the sand and parents looking freckled and relaxed. Vacations are an important part of family bonding. They allow us to escape from the grind, enjoy life, and focus on our family. However, expensive tickets and high expectations can leave us disappointed, especially when our infant spends the entire plane ride screaming and our toddler is constantly asking when we are going to get there! Or even better, we finally get to our destination and our daughter develops a high fever and is vomiting. Today we are going to discuss important tricks and tips to ensure your vacation goes as smoothly as possible so that you can enjoy the much needed time with your family. Let’s get started!
A Medical Bag. Children notoriously get sick on vacation. The change in their schedule, long hours, crowded places, and confined areas make the perfect equation for illness. It is imperative that you always travel with Tylenol and Motrin. This is particularly important if you are traveling to the Caribbean. The quickest way to ruin a vacation is getting a wake up call at 3am from your child with a high fever and nowhere to get a fever reducer. Make sure to have the right dose calculated for your child ahead of time. If your lucky enough to have Zofran (anti-nausea/vomiting medication) in the house, make sure to bring that with you as well. If you are going to a beach destination, don’t forget the sunscreen and after-sun care too. It is always a good idea to have a small first aid kit for minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
A Plane Present. This trick has yet to fail me. Before you leave, pack your child their own carry on bag filled with independent, engaging toys like Playdough, Legos, magnetic squares, puzzles, and activity books. Of course, you can bring the iPad but the research has shown that children do better changing their activity every 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure to pack snacks that I like to refer to as “grazing snacks,” which is snack that is low in sugar, high in quantity, and has a low choking risk. Great examples are Cheerios or Puffs. Here is the important piece to the puzzle- buy one new engaging toy and wrap it up in shiny wrapping paper the night before. Show the new toy to your child right before leaving for the airport and explain that if they behave in the airport they will get the toy right before the plane takes off. It not only helps to modify their behavior in the airport, but also provides as least 30 minutes of engagement during take off. The toy is new so they spend more time investigating and playing with it. When we went skiing last year, I got Mason a book with origami cars, trucks, and trains. It kept not only Mason engaged for hours, but my poor brother in law who was recruited to help, put them together!
Bottle Up and Bottle Down. This is important for parents traveling with infants. Try to schedule your flight around the time your child takes a nap. The airport preparations might be a little harder with a cranky infant, but the pay off is huge. Once they indicate that it is time for take off, whip out the bottle and start to feed your baby. The air pressure during take off in combination with the bottle and a tired baby equals nap time! Of course if your child doesn’t nap well this might not be the right plan for you. I have been using this trick for years and it has made traveling so much more peaceful. A sleeping baby is always the perfect traveling companion. The reason I suggest a bottle during landing is to help with the pressure that causes pain in the ears. The sucking motion helps equalize the pressure in the ear canal helping to eliminate any discomfort that your child may be having.
Can My Child Travel With An Ear Infection? Working in Florida, I see a lot of tourists coming through the emergency room. The number one question I get from tourists is, can I travel home if my child has an ear infection? We ask parents to use caution when flying with a child who has an ear infection because of the pressure that can potentially build up in the ear. The fluid or infection that is sitting behind your child’s ear drum prevents pressure from equalizing. Air travel, especially during landing, can become very painful for a child that has an ear infection. You can attempt to alleviate the pressure by yawning, blowing up a ballon, or blowing bubbles through a straw into a full cup of water. Encourage your child to open their mouth widely. With infants, the easiest way to alleviate the pressure is to breast-feed or give them a bottle.
Even if the plane ride is a disaster or one of your children ends up getting sick, try to recover and enjoy the moment. Vacations are about building memories and bonding with your loved ones. Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the moment. It goes by so quickly. I hope this helps you with your journey! See you next Wednesday.