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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A

Parenting Question of the Month Our family will be vacationing soon. Do you have any tips on traveling with a baby or toddler?


Parenting Q&A Traveling with babies and toddlers can be fun and extremely rewarding. It’s a great way to grow together as a family; children can be surprisingly tough travelers and many kids thrive on adventure. However, there is no doubt that traveling with young children can present some real challenges for parents, whether it's breastfeeding in public, navigating lines and security at the airport, or trying to settle a squirmy toddler on a long drive.

Here are some tips on keeping your travels fun for the whole family:

  • Try short trips first and plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt. Take breaks and don’t just ‘drive straight through’ at the expense of family enjoyment—treat getting there as part of the fun.

  • Be realistic—especially if you want to visit more than one place—about what you can cover with little ones in tow. The less you feel you have to do, the more enjoyable and stress-free your trip will be.

  • Help your child prepare for your destination by exploring maps, or the culture, animal and plant life of your destination. Read books or watch a film that's set there.

  • Pack a Bag of Tricks. Bring your child's favorite books and toys as well as a few surprises for the really difficult moments. Manageable art supplies like Wiki Stix and Do-a-Dot stampers are great. You need fewer toys than you think but the ones you chose need to hold a child’s interest.

  • Become a great narrator and tour guide. Because you’re going somewhere new, the most unexpected things become interesting. Prepare yourself with funny or interesting stories about the places you are visiting, be able to tell a child what happens inside a jet engine, or how the bridge you are crossing was built.

  • Help prevent meltdowns by making sure you have enough snacks and drinks on hand. If you’re flying, check for the latest security regulations regarding children and their food and drinks on the TSA’s website (listed below).

  • Maintain your child's routine (meals, naptimes, bedtimes, etc.) as much as possible. Prepare for possible jet lag by keeping a lighter itinerary at the beginning and end of your trip. Get outdoors in the sunshine to help all of you adjust to time changes.

  • Have No Expectations. Kids might not have the wonderful time that you expected them to, or they might get sick. A normally good-natured child might get tired and cranky. You may find that your accommodations aren't what you had hoped for. The more that you're able to take things in stride, the more everyone in your family will enjoy themselves.

After all is said and done, remember that families traveling with small children make up at least 30 percent of the traveling public. Which means that you are not alone! And if you do end up with “horror stories” even with these tips, you’ll have funny family stories to share for years to come.

Parenting Resources

Bevilaqua, Nancy. 12 Tips (Learned the Hard Way) for Traveling with a Small Child. Baby Zone. Web Article: http://www.babyzone.com/baby/travel-with-baby/traveling-with-child-tips_73137

Flying with Babies, Toddlers and Kids. Delicious Baby Web Site. Web Article: http://www.deliciousbaby.com/travel/family-travel-tips/making-travel-days-with-kids-work/air-travel-with-babies-toddlers-kids/

Traveling with Children: Resources. Center for Disease Control. Web Article: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/child-travel.htm

Traveling with Kids. TSA. Web Article: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/index.shtm

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