It’s almost that time of the season: to load up the kids, the sunscreen, and the beach towels for summer vacation. But as anyone who’s traveled with children knows, traveling with a family in tow is a completely different experience than traveling alone. Gone are the carefree days of skipping through airports with a single roller bag, a magazine and an iced coffee. Instead, putting together a family vacation can feel like planning a full-out assault on fun. Here are a few tips and things to think about as you get ready for your family’s travel season:
- Sun protection is key. A sunburn on your baby doesn’t only put a damper on the vacation, it can be very dangerous, with long-term health implications. For babies under 6 months of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping them out of the sun entirely. After 6 months of age, it’s time to slather on the screen according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember: most people don’t use nearly enough to sunscreen to enjoy its full protection.
- Practice safe water tips! Whether you’re on the beach or near a pool, water safety is essential. If you have time before your trip, it’s a good idea to enroll your baby or toddler in swim courses. Otherwise, it’s up to you to make sure your kids are safe around water—even if lifeguards are present. Don’t forget to learn CPR!
- Don’t make travel any harder than it has to be—plan ahead! Whether you’re flying with a toddler or loading up the family roadster, it’s best to plan for every possibility:
- Breastfeeding while traveling. Of course you’ll have to pack your breastfeeding essentials, but it can also help to know what the laws are around the country regarding breastfeeding in public.
- For your formula-fed infant. If you think forgetting a toothbrush is bad, try forgetting a bottle warmer or sterilization equipment.
- Plan for the sniffles! It’s not uncommon for people—including babies—to run into new germs on the road and come down with a cold. Preparing ahead of time means you won’t have to run out in an unfamiliar place to find relief for a sick baby, and you’ll know you have the right medicines on hand.
- Make sure you’re up to date on all your vaccines. This is always a good idea, but if you’re heading overseas, ask your pediatrician if your baby will need any extra shots.
And last, if you have any health-related questions, it never hurts to talk to your child’s pediatrician before hitting the road.