Taking a picture of each child’s immunization record with your smartphone is an easy way to confirm immunization status in an emergency. Take a picture of each child before leaving so you have a record of what they are wearing if you are separated.
Fly and Drive Safely
Using a car seat while on an airplane is the safest way to fly. A CARES harness (age 1 and older, 22-44 lbs), can replace a car seat for airplane use, but does not have a crotch strap or side protection. “Rider Safe” vests are great for cars but require a shoulder belt or LATCH system, so cannot be used on airplanes. Do not trust car seats provided by car rental companies as they may be expired, involved in a recall, broken, or dirty.
Diaper bags are not counted towards carry-ons, and remember that every person who has to buy a ticket is entitled to their own personal bag. Additional helpful items to consider are antibacterial wipes, antibacterial hand gel, and reusable bags that can be folded down to a tiny size for efficient bathroom trips. Bring a backpack instead of a rolling bag if possible to leave your hands free. Use the carry-on for extra diapers, travel toys, a change of clothes for each person, and valuable items.
Front carriers with a backpack or slings with a messenger bag are a great combination for getting through airports with children up to age 3, leaving hands free. Wraps and slings can be used as nursing covers, pillows, and blankets. Think of more than one way to transport each child and large piece of equipment so you have a backup plan in case of emergency.
When you check in, ask if the seat next to you can be blocked, especially if you are flying with a lap infant, and that seat will be filled last. You can bring your car seat all the way to the aircraft and gate-check it if there is no room. Book window and aisle seats when traveling with two adults and a lap infant so you can use the center seat if the plane is not full.
Divide and Conquer
If there are two adults, consider sending one ahead to gate-check or install the car seat, get carry-on bags in place, settle seating issues with neighbors, and wipe the area with antibacterial wipes so the second adult can settle in smoothly with the children. Remember to leave some supplies behind if one parent is staying with a diapered child!
Takeoff and Landing
Children do not necessarily have to swallow, yawn or chew gum during takeoff. ENT specialists recommend only that children be awake for landing. Consider scheduling a doctor visit prior to a flight to look for any ear fluid or infection that will make flying miserable and can result in ruptured eardrums.
The “Frisk” Diaper Change
All diapers should be changed in the lavatory. Older children may be taken into the larger handicapped lavatory as they may not fit on the changing table. Change toddlers standing up in the “frisk” position against the wall. Clean the back side first, put a clean diaper on your lap, then have them face away and lean against you as you clean and fasten the front. Keep a change of clothes in case of “wardrobe malfunction” in a large ziplock bag inside the bag you bring to the lavatory.
Be a Good Neighbor
If traveling with two adults or a responsible older child, consider seating arrangements that place a more active toddler behind a carseat or older member of the party. Minimize conflicts by telling your child to not touch (instead of “not kick”) the seat in front of them. If seated with a stranger in your row, choose carefully who will sit next to them as a parent may need to get up frequently. Consider a quieter, school-age child instead of toddler, infant or parent.
Be a Savvy World Traveler
Check the CDC’s travel advisory page before leaving the country to look for any current disease outbreaks or travel warnings. Some areas that are high risk for malaria or other insect-borne diseases may require protective medication or vaccines started up to 1 month before leaving.
www.travel.state.gov Travel information, legal
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list Travel information, health
http://www.bwiaustin.org/carrier-info/ Baby carrier comparisons
FAA Advisory Circular 120-87B summary of allowable child restraint systems
Traveling with children can be fun!