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Traveling with Kids: How to Plan a Safe Spring Break Vacation


Spring Break is quickly approaching, and many families will travel to see family or popular vacation destinations. Here are some important considerations and tips to help plan a fun and safe vacation for your family:


Infection Prevention

  • Wash hands frequently, and bring hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes when hand washing is not possible. Clean your child’s hands before eating to prevent illness.
  • Wear a mask and practice safe distancing.
  • Make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations before travel, including COVID-19 and the flu. 
  • Pack a medical kit. Items to include will depend on your destination and activities. Consider adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain medicine (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), allergy relief, medicine for an upset stomach, sunscreen, bug repellent, or anything appropriate to your family’s needs.


Talk about safety 

  • Make a plan of what to do if you become separated.
  • Create information cards to place in your child’s pocket in case they become lost.
  • Think about using wearable GPS tracking devices to ensure lost children can be located quickly.


Car travel

  • Always use a car seat for young children and infants, even in a cab or rideshare. Infants should always be rear-facing. Adhere to weight and height requirements of car/booster seats. 
  • If you are renting a car, most rental companies can provide a car seat at cost, but you must check to ensure that it is the appropriate size for your child.
  • All children, 12 and under, should always ride in the backseat with their seatbelt on.
  • Set a good example by always wearing your seatbelt.
  • Plan to make rest stops every two hours to allow yourself and your child a break.
  • Never leave a child alone in a car, ever. Children are at high risk for heat stroke.
  • Games, small toys, music, and snacks make car travel much more tolerable for children.


Airplane travel

  • Allow an extra 20-30 minutes to get through security when traveling with children.
  • Strollers can be brought through security and checked at the gate to make traveling with small children easier.
  • Arrange to have an appropriately-sized car seat at your destination, or bring your own. Most car rental companies will also rent car seats, but you must reserve in advance.
  • Be prepared with books, snacks, and small toys to keep your child engaged.
  • Many children may experience ear pain upon taking off or during descent. Encourage older children to drink liquids or chew gum, swallowing to equalize the pressure behind the eardrum. Encourage infants to breastfeed or drink from a bottle.


Water play

  • If your destination includes a body of water or pool, provide a lifejacket for small children. If the child is older, ensure they are water-safe by having them swim across the pool or tread water before letting them swim without a lifejacket. 
  • A lifejacket is a necessity if the water is moving, such as the ocean or a river. Water wings can give the parents and child a false sense of security as they can easily slide off the arms and leave a child helpless in the water.


Ensure that your family trip is a success by discussing safety with your kids and planning early!


Written by Amy Hebenstreit, MBA, BS, RN, CCRN


Images courtesy of Unsplash

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