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Warm Weather Travel With Young Children

 

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 By Maxine Roeper Cohen, M.S.

Ah, the warm weather has arrived and families may start dreaming about summer travel. Parents might have fond memories of summer vacations while they were growing up, and now it’s their turn to create those memories with their own families. Travelling with young children is not easy like a summer breeze; rather it is a challenge, but certainly one worth planning for.

Whether you travel by car, train, ship, or airplane, it is important to remember that children are excited but often impatient or restless. Try packing a “fun bag” for them to keep on their laps or next to them in their car seats with entertaining lap toys, books, travel games, and snacks. When motoring along our nation’s highways, it is important to take breaks to stretch legs and perhaps play tag for a few minutes to get “the sillies” out of their systems. It is hard for young children to sit still for hours. It’s fun to pack a picnic lunch to eat outdoors at one of the many beautiful rest stop areas off of major highways.

Upon arrival it’s difficult to keep to the same routine and schedule that you do at home. However, young children thrive on routines, and they will maintain better moods if you slow down the sightseeing pace a bit to provide for a naptime. This forces everyone to relax a bit each day, and when you think about it, isn’t that what vacations are all about? Getting away and decreasing stress are good for parents and children alike. Upon awakening or relaxing, everyone is ready for more fun exploration time.

Remember the equipment you will need for young children, especially a stroller. It can double as a place to feed a toddler when a high chair isn’t available. Keep an ample supply of fresh wipes on hand for the many cleanup situations that arise. Have extra clothes for all weather conditions and that carry-on bag for air travel should have a complete change of outfits for the family in case checked luggage doesn’t arrive with you.

Talking about a trip is an educational experience. Show children the destination on a map. Read about where you are going and describe it to your younger child. Talk about the climate where you are going. Talk about the history of the place, geography of the area, and what you will do there. Calculate how long it will take you to arrive. All of these stimulating conversations expand children’s horizons and add to the anticipation of a wonderful time for all.

Most importantly, have patience and enjoy this special family time when nobody is working, or in daycare or school. Have fun together and know that you are creating wonderful memories to be cherished.

Maxine Roeper Cohen is a Parent Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at mc333@cornell.edu.

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