Traveling with Kids (Part 2: While Traveling…)

Now, a few ideas when traveling.

Prepare your child. They are never too young to understand, I think. I explain everything to my child. Even when she was an infant, I talked to her about what was going to happen or what was happening. “We are going on a trip! First, we will ride the car to the port, where all the ships are docked Then, we will get on a big ship. We will get our own cabin and maybe we can see dolphins! When we get there, we will ride a car to Lola’s house! You will see Lolo and Lola, aunties and uncles, and all your cousins! It is going to be so fun!”

One time, when we hit some turbulence flying somewhere over the South China Sea, I saw the fear flash across her face. I countered it with a calm voice, explaining, “We hit an air pocket! Isn’t this exciting? Is your tummy getting tickled?” Then I make light of it, “Bumpy-bumpy-bumpy bump! Wheeeee!” in time to the dips and rises. She giggled and asked for more air pockets.

Remember that your child picks up your cues. If she senses your fear, she will be afraid too. Particularly for young children, it’s not the words you speak but how you say it.

Nurse or swallow-with-mouth-open. You know how your ears hurt when the pressure builds up after take-off or before landing? Now imagine how it is for the baby or child who does not understand what is happening. It is cruel and inexplicable torture for them. My grandmother’s remedy for that was to let me chew gum. But that’s not an option for babies or some kids.

I learned from my mom-mentor to nurse (preferably breastfeed) just before take-off and landing. First, it soothes the baby. Second, and key, the swallowing motion helps reduce/relieve the pressure building up.

For older kids who can understand, ask them to open their mouths slightly then swallow when they feel their ears starting to get stuffed.

Traveling with Kids, Part 2Traveling with babies is worlds different from traveling with older children. Babies are portable and their needs are simple: comfort and food.

I found it easier to travel light with babies. Unless required in your destination, you don’t have to bring a carrier/car seat nor stroller. You can carry your baby around with you.

Use a front-loading baby carrier. Contact comforts the baby whose senses are deluged with strange stimuli. It also makes feeding easier. I used a front carrier that worked two ways: with the baby facing me and facing outwards. When she got fussy or hungry, I let my child face me and hugged-carried her. When she seemed bored or eager to explore, I let her face outwards.

Think about using a bassinet. If you’re on a long flight, think about getting a bassinet so both you and baby get ample rest and break from each other. Remember, happy mommy = happy baby. If you’re stressed out, he’ll pick up on it and be fussy.

Pack a bottle of frozen breastmilk. If you’re breastfeeding, bring at least a bottle of frozen milk. This will help ensure that you don’t run out of milk. Then you can leave your baby for long stretches of time. Since I was working full-time in our Bangkok trip, I would pump and freeze and feed first in-first out.

Note for breastfeeding mothers traveling without their babies: Continue to pump even when you don’t have your child with you. You can toss the milk away, donate it, or freeze and bring it back home. Do not stop pumping or your milk supply will dwindle, as your body will think you have weaned your baby. Remember the basic rule of breastfeeding: supply = demand.

When traveling with older children, think about these:

Take a lightweight umbrella stroller. If your child is too heavy to carry around, and too small to take long walks, a stroller is your best bet. Don’t get the fancy one with all the bells and whistles. Go for the lightweight yet sturdy one that you can fold and unfold with just one hand.

You will be able to walk long distances, without warring with a whining child. If the child is comfortable enough in the stroller, he will fall asleep. I used a neckpillow and a cozy blanket to get my child comfortable. The rhythmic glide of the stroller would lull her to sleep in no time. Plus, the stroller’s basket and handles gives you more space for your kids stuff (and your purchases!).

Use in-flight entertainment. Or in-car entertainment, for that matter. Today’s aircrafts have sophisticated entertainment systems: movies, TV shows, music, and games! Some have a separate category for “Kids” offering  children-safe movie, TV shows, music and games so you don’t have to worry about exposing them to inappropriate adult content.

If you car doesn’t have a built-in video system, portable DVD players are quite affordable these days. You can bring your own library of DVDs. There’s your cellphone and tablet computer, too.

Play games. Even when traveling, you can limit the children’s screen time. Play interactive games like I-spy, connect the songs, sing-along with Abba (or Little Einsteins). Make up your own game!

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