Traveling With a Tiny Co-pilot

Showing your kids the world doesn’t have to be stressful.


Unfamiliar places, new food, strange people—it’s a great big world out there. That can be particularly intimidating if you’re a toddler, or her parent.

If the idea of traveling with your toddler strikes terror in your heart, you’re not alone. But with a bit of preparation, you can all enjoy the trip.

Talk Up Your Trip

Toddlers are at an interesting phase of life. They are just starting to understand the world and like to have a say in what they do, wear, eat and where they go. The trip may not be their idea, but talking about it ahead of time can help them prepare mentally and enjoy the experience more.

Tell your children about where you’re going and who they’ll be seeing. If it’s their first time flying, read books about planes and talk about the pilot who will be flying. Try to make the trip exciting.

Stick to the Schedule

Structure can go out the window when your family travels. Try to stick as close to your children’s typical schedules as possible.

That may mean setting reminders for snack time, naptime and bedtime, and keeping your at-home schedule, even if you’ll be in another time zone. A sleepy, hungry toddler is rarely a pleasant travel companion.

Don’t Forget the Wookie

Blankie, wub-wub, wookie … whatever your child’s comfort item is called, don’t leave it at home. A familiar item while he’s in a new situation can go a long way toward keeping your child calm when he is in unfamiliar places.

And, because things do happen, consider bringing a backup comfort item. It’s not unheard of for beloved items to go missing on your way through the airport or while getting off the plane.

Pack Savvy

Some travel must-haves for a family with children include snacks, toys, a first aid kit, a change of clothes and any medications they’ll need during the trip. Keep these items close. Put them in your carry-on bag if you can, but be cautious of airport safety rules about what can and can’t go through security.

Consider bringing a new toy or activity just for the plane ride. Choose items with few pieces that would be hard to lose in the seat cushions.

With the right planning, key items and a solid plan for keeping everyone calm, you can help make traveling a positive experience for the whole family.

Preventing Ear Pressure in the Air

As planes come in for landings, the amount of pressure you are under increases. Typically, thin canals in the ears called Eustachian tubes make adjustments so the pressure in your ear and the pressure outside match. That’s what makes your ears pop as the plane descends.

Eustachian tubes are smaller in young children. It can be difficult for them to balance out, especially if children are congested. That puts pressure on the eardrum and can be uncomfortable.

If your children have colds or allergies, talk to your doctor about safe ways to clear those airways while you travel. The less congested they are, the less likely they are to have painful ear pressure during the flight.

For more information about this health topic, consult your Summit physician or click here to locate a physician.