Going on family vacations. Have you not dreamt of this week off? These long-awaited holidays for months may indeed be an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen family ties, through activities performed in a context different from the usual routine. But in order to appreciate them fully you need to be well prepared.

Whether you decide to take the road, plane, train or ship during spring break, whether for a short or a longer trip, there’s no doubt that the various stages of the journey will require planning, with careful thought as to the chosen destination and age of your little ones, or you might end up returning from your vacation in a foul mood.

Some Safety Rules

Because every journey brings with it a great deal of excitement, it is important to establish the safety aspect of travel a few days before departure, and going over it again on the day of departure. Do this before leaving home; an airport terminal is not the place your three-year-old toddler will sit quietly and listen to your instructions. You must also be alert to new situations that the trip might bring you.

For example, beware of hot drinks and turbulence when on aircraft, or where your child is standing when on a train platform. Never leave young children unattended, and make sure the child has on its person a document to identify them in case you become separated.

Even if your toddler is very familiar with your name and cell phone number, he can forget this information easily if in panic. Brightly colored clothing can help you locate him in a crowd, if he does have a knack of escaping your view. To make identification easier in case of an emergency, have the most recent photos of your child at hand.

Countering Motion Sickness

If your child suffers from motion sickness, you can give him appropriate tablets. It is better to carry out tests at home before. Some children can become hyperactive after eating these products. You certainly don’t want to see them going crazy in the aisles of the train at midnight! Consult your pediatrician if needed.

Eating often, but just a little at a time, helps reduce motion sickness. Limit the consumption of excessive liquid. Encourage drinking in small doses each time. Bring snacks along that are individually wrapped, like toast, crackers, and granola bars.

Important Documents while Traveling

If you’re traveling abroad, a passport is compulsory for every child, regardless of age. Check with the consulate or embassy of the country you are visiting, what documents are required, or the conditions of entry.

A notarized letter of consent, signed and dated by both parents, is a letter that allows either parent to travel alone with the offspring. This is heavily recommended. .If you’re traveling alone with children, this document can simplify customs clearance by eliminating the possibility of officials suspecting a kidnapping. If you’re travel with your spouse and, for whatever reason (lost passport, unfortunate accident, etc.), you have to go back home alone, your movement will be facilitated.

Legal documents regarding custody of children can be just as life-saving. Consult a lawyer if the custody of the child may be a dispute during the trip. Custody arrangements are not necessarily recognized by some countries.

Medical clearance is required if you travel with a child with severe allergies or diabetes requiring him to carry an epinephrine auto-injector and syringes for insulin. Similarly, if your child requires medication, a medical note stating their generic names and their use is necessary.

In fact, to keep happy memories of your trip, plan everything you can as long as possible in advance and then let the wind carry you when on vacation. If the unexpected happens, react calmly so as not to spoil this unique family moment, and be flexible.

If you’re stressed, your child will feel and experience the same sensations. By contrast, if you are calm and relaxed, he probably will too. In short, much of the secret lies in the organization before the beginning of the vacation. So plan!

Ideas for Activities in the Car, Plane or Train

After establishing where everyone’s seated, create a small home ensuring the comfort of all, and plan appropriate activities for your children.

  • The wall: for infants, attach a piece of fabric decorated with drawings made by you to the seat so that the child has a different view from that of monochrome car upholstery.
  • Magnets: A book magnet or a cookie sheet and some magnets will do for toddlers. A second identical set of games will allow association.
  • Reading: If your child is passionate about reading, offer him a new book shortly before departure or, go to the library.
  • Travel Journal: Buy a newspaper for your school-age youth. Why not add a nice new pen?
  • Board games: get their favorites in the magnetized version!
  • The Kit Artist: With washable crayons, paper, coloring books, playdough, stickers, pipe cleaners, a portable desk, etc.
  • Songs: Have fun finding the title of a song by listening to only a portion of a song or continue the rest of the lyrics.

Helpful Hints

  • When travelling by car, children of 12 years and under should sit in the back, because the airbags that deploy in the front during a crash may hurt them.
  • Hand luggage is the essential tool for organizing your trip. Choose one that is equipped with many pockets to find what you’re looking for more easily.