What are some issues to consider when traveling with kids?
Flying with kids
There’s nothing like flying on a plane with a baby or toddler to make a parent suddenly appreciate how comparatively easy it is to fly as an adult.
Gone are the days of reading a magazine, watching a movie or even looking out of the window in a bubble of peace and quiet. Parents are “on” for hours as entertainers and behavioral police, in an effort to keep children quiet and calm while encased in a metal tube with hundreds of other people, many of whom may be less than tolerant of children.
Even a standard run to the bathroom can be a problem — have you ever changed a diaper in an airplane toilet? When there is a line to use the facilities and your child is yelling “I have to go NOW!” it is frustration at 30,000 feet.
Part of the answer is a pre-packed bag of toys, games, some snacks, plenty of water and loads of humor and patience. Many parents also swear by a small portable DVD player with kid-friendly movies and/or audio children’s books.
Car and RV rentals
The main issue when renting a car or any other vehicle is ensuring that you have the proper safety equipment for children (and in some countries, whether the vehicle itself holds together.)
Safety seat/shoulder belts and car seats are seemingly less of a priority in some countries, so make sure that they are functional before driving off of the rental lot. It’s obviously a lot more convenient to have a car seat or booster seat waiting for you rather than lugging the heavy beast onto an aircraft, but then again, at least you have control over the quality if you carry it yourself.
Car seats are a good idea when flying, or use a CARES harness on the plane and check the bulky seat to retrieve upon arrival and use in your rental.
Travel with young children ages newborn to 8
- If you’re nursing, they can always be fed
- They are portable in a baby sling
- They are pushable in a stroller
- They take naps
- They are entertained by everything that’s going on
- They need diapers
- They need some degree of routine and structure and are not happy when it’s absent
- They can fuss at the most inopportune times
- It’s hard to visit some places (like museums and anywhere that requires quiet)
- They are often picky eaters and won’t try unfamiliar foods
- There is never a break from parenting duties
- There’s no quantifiable educational value in return for all the hassles
Travel with preteens and teens ages 9 to 18
- You can carry on an intelligent conversation with them during your travels
- They are self-sufficient to some degree
- They learn so much from travel that is directly applicable to life in general
- They can go to museums and “semi-adult” venues and get something out of the experience
- Just about when they become easier to take on family trips, they lose interest in family trips
- The “pout factor” when they are taken away from friends to travel with parents
- The expense factor when parents agree to bring along a friend to stop the “pout factor.”
In some situations, travel insurance is an unnecessary purchase (some might call it a scam.) In others, travel insurance makes a great deal of sense and one should budget to purchase it. If a traveler is concerned with loss of possessions and luggage, he or she should probably check their personal property or homeowner’s insurance policy, because such losses are usually already covered.
The unexpected cancellation of an expensive trip like a cruise, however, is another matter, as is an unexpected health-related crisis while traveling.