Mini-travel

Whether you’re road-tripping or city-hopping across the globe, travelling with children can be a parenting minefield, so it pays to be prepared. From vaccinations to not getting lost abroad, this expert stay-safe travel checklist will ensure your child’s safety – even on the move 

HAVE A ‘GETTING LOST’ PLAN…

Dr Rallie McAllister, a family doctor and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide To Your Baby’s First Year, says it’s vital to explain to young children the importance of sticking by your side abroad – especially in a strange city. And if they do get separated from you, make sure they know where to turn. “Tell them to look for a police officer or a mum with kids,” she suggests. “Also make sure they are carrying a card with your mobile number on it [or the hotel card for where you are staying],” she adds.

TRAIN THEM HOW TO PACK…

 

“Discuss in advance what your child might need or want to take. Write a list together and pack a rucksack prior to the journey,” suggests Karen Wattleworth, a learning expert from ZooBooKoo. “Encourage them to think of packing a bottle of water, pocket packs of tissues and wet-wipes, a hat, suntan lotion, things to do, and games to play. Don’t forget your child’s favourite teddy or blanket. Packing a rucksack builds suspense and excitement about your journey, but it’s also excellent training for all those future summer camps when they can then pack for themselves.”

PACK HEALTHY SNACKS…

“Stick to water, raisins, fruit, cereal bars,” says Karen. “Perhaps a sweet treat at certain milestones in your journey, but avoid hyperactivity-inducing additives found in sweets and drinks. Even if you think your journey is short and you don’t need supplies, pack some – you never know what may happen.”

FIND A FAMILY MEETING PLACE…

At each new destination, pick a spot where the whole family will assemble, in case anyone gets separated, suggests Amanda Coxen, childcare expert at Tinies International Nanny Agency. “Knowing where to meet means your child will be less afraid if they notice they are alone – though you on the other hand will be just as worried!” 

IDENTIFY ‘SAFE’ FACES…

At each stage of your journey (at the airport, at the hotel, on the train), identify the staff in uniform to your child, suggests Amanda. “Your children being able to identify the colour of the airline uniform or know which friendly face at the hotel to approach if they feel they are in trouble can be a weight off your shoulders.” 

CHILD-PROOF YOUR HOTEL ROOM…

The surfaces in your own home may be softer than a marshmallow thanks to hours dedicated to baby-proofing, but remember that most holiday accommodation won’t be as child-friendly. If you’re on an upper floor, consider removing any balcony furniture to avoid small children climbing over. Dr McAllister adds: “Immediately do a scan of a hotel room for any small items that might be choking hazards, such as coins and buttons in the room. Do a quick check for other hazards, such as peeling paint or heavy items that could fall on a child. Check that key items such as lights and fans work properly. Bring outlet protectors and a carbon monoxide detector, and plug them in. Also, bring a roll of painter’s tape and use it to secure things like blind strings.”

RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION…

Most hotels will provide a travel cot for babies and young children, so find out in advance, says Amanda. “Sometimes it’s worth asking your accommodation to send a picture, so that you know you are happy with the cots it has; alternatively, having your own travel cot is more of an option if you are travelling by car.” Also, do some research into the local area, suggests Amanda. “If you are going on a holiday where you will be walking a lot, it’s worth looking at the terrain to see whether your all-terrain pram is enough or whether a baby backpack will keep your child smiling and your sanity intact,” she advises.

FLY SAFELY…

Ensure your hand luggage contains the essentials: hand sanitiser, an easily accessible change of clothes, a small blanket and plenty of milk or water to keep the little ‘uns well hydrated. “The fluids help prevent dehydration, and the act of swallowing helps reduce ear discomfort,” says Dr McAllister. Make sure any airplane safety devices are properly done up and remain so throughout the flight. Alternatively, consider investing in a CARES Airplane Safety Harness. “It’s suitable for one-year-olds and older who weigh 22–44lbs. It’s easy to install on an airplane seat, and it will keep your child secure during turbulence on routine flights and in emergency situations,” says Dr McAllister.

BE FUELLED WITH FORMULA…

“Make sure you pack enough baby formula for the entire holiday. You don’t want to have to find formula in a foreign country, where the labels may not be in your own language and the taste may be different from at home, making it hard for your child to adjust,” says Amanda.

RE-STOCK YOUR TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT…

Ibuprofen, sticking plasters, Benadryl (for hay fever), a thermometer and a bath thermometer, Paracetamol, Calpol, Sudocrem, Savlon, Vicks VapoRub, sun cream, aloe vera gel, and a plug-in mosquito repellent are all essentials in a travel first-aid kit. “Also bring any medicine your family might have needed in the past two weeks,” says Dr McAllister. “Make sure to check the expiry dates of all medicine in your travel kit before you go.”

GET VACCINATED IN ADVANCE…

When it comes to vaccinations, every destination and age range is different, so it’s best to consult your doctor well in advance of leaving, to avoid any shocks. “Approach your doctor at least three months in advance of your holiday to discuss vaccinations,” says Amanda. “Make sure you check with your doctor whether your child is old enough to take malaria tablets; if not, avoid locations where this is an issue,” she adds.

 
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PROTECT FROM INFECTION…

When on the move, be extra cautious about germs. “Wash your hands often, and use antibacterial soap. Pack extra antibacterial wipes to use on random highchairs or tables in restaurants,” says Amanda. If tap water is unsafe to drink in your destination, be extra vigilant. “Don’t just avoid glasses of water; ask for no ice in your drinks, avoid juice for the children, as it is often watered down, and remember to use bottled water to brush your teeth,” warns Amanda.

 BE SKIN-SAVVY…

When buying sun cream, make sure it’s for sensitive skin. Avoid insect repellent that contains the chemical DEET for small children (it may be toxic if absorbed through the skin). Wearing light, long-sleeved and long-legged clothes is a great extra barrier for the sun and makes children’s skin less of a target,” says Amanda.