Solutions: Tips on Travelling with Children
Traveling with Children
My wife and I made a decision early on that we would travel with our children as soon, and as often, as possible. We’ve learned a number of things over the years and thought that this would be an appropriate opportunity to offer a few suggestions.
1. Select travel experiences that will be fun and entertaining for everyone. Taking a toddler to Disneyworld or Europe has the potential for making your child an obstacle to your enjoyment. Better for young children to consider places like Wisconsin Dells or a summer cottage on a lake. Wait for your children to grow and mature before venturing to destinations that require a longer attention span to enjoy.
2. If traveling by car, especially with young children, plan to stop often. My wife and I have a rule that limits us to no more than two hours behind the wheel at any one stretch to prevent driver fatigue. It also helps to let small children out to stretch their legs and use the facilities as often as they need to.
3. Let your vacation begin the moment you leave your home and not when you arrive at your destination. Getting there should be half the fun.
4. Check out books on tape from the library and listen to them as a family. The older your children get, the longer the books can be.
5. Have snack foods and drinks available that are low in sugar and caffeine. Cheerios, crackers, apples, raisins, and low calorie beverages taste good and are filling without the buzz that accompanies sugar and caffeine.
6. Limit the use of personal electronic equipment (stereos and computer games) so that conversation can take place. If your family doesn’t make a habit of doing this at home, bring along a few games as icebreakers. It’s often amazing to discover the things your children will say if they know you are listening.
7. When traveling by air, have a beverage available for young children to drink during takeoff and landing to limit the effects of pressure changes.
8. Share ahead of time the plan for your vacation to keep your children informed and to solicit their suggestions.
9. Schedule times during the vacation for parents to split the duties, taking one or more of your children and focusing on just being with them.
10. Don’t try to do too much. Set aside times for rest. If traveling with young children, each parent can "spell" the other periodically.
Even though there always seems to be so much to do around the house, if the time is available, get away. In Wisconsin there are plenty of parks and campgrounds less than a day’s drive away to take advantage of, even if money is in short supply.
About the Author
Dr. Russell Robertson is Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. His biweekly column of medical advice also appears in the CNI Community Newspapers throughout metropolitan Milwaukee.
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