Posts Tagged 'driving'

Holiday travel tips for parents

Family with luggage at train station

Cropped image. Sigfrid Lundberg, Flickr. CC license.

Traveling during the holiday season can sometimes be scary: traffic jams, winter weather, delayed flights, and crowded airports are a few of the concerns. When you add squirming kids into the equation, you may be tempted to simply stay home. Nevertheless, millions of Americans will hit the road, looking forward to visiting relatives, reconnecting with old friends, or even taking a long-awaited vacation to a warm and sunny family resort. Exploring with your family creates wonderful memories for the future. So don’t be afraid; go and enjoy your time away!

General Travel Tips

  • Pack only what you need for the trip. Diapers, wipes, etc. can be purchased once you’re at your destination. Some equipment like strollers, pack & plays, and feeding chairs can often be rented. One site to check out for baby equipment rental is Traveling Baby Co.
  • Dress baby in comfortable clothes.
  • Keep a spare set of clothes and/or shirt packed and easily accessible in case of spills and spit ups.
  • Keep your baby’s routine the same whenever possible.
  • Be mindful of little travelers’ limits. They need to have time to rest and be quiet.
  • Provide opportunities for kids to just be kids. Do not overschedule activities.
  • Be prepared for last minute adjustments.
  • Use bottles with disposable liners so that you have less bottle washing.
  • Purchase a special gift/gifts (do not need to be expensive) to help entertain your child.
  • It’s OK to relax some of your guidelines, such as treats and screen time, when traveling long distances.

Plane Travel Tips

  • Take early morning flights whenever possible as planes tend to be more on time in the morning and flight crews are refreshed.
  • Allow for extra time at the airport.
  • If possible, book your flights during non-peak travel times, Mondays–Wednesdays. Try to book non-stop flights whenever possible.
  • Check as much luggage as possible at the front ticketing counter. Walking or running through an airport is much easier without luggage. Keep stroller to push baby and simply check it at the gate.
  • Board the airplane last so as not to have extra time sitting on the airplane. If two adults are traveling, have one board with the luggage to get it stowed in advance and have the other wait in the terminal with the baby.
  • If traveling alone with baby/child, book a window and aisle seat and hope that the middle seat will remain vacant. If it becomes occupied, the passenger will always switch with you for the aisle or window.
  • Don’t feel strapped to your seat for the entire flight, it’s OK to get up and walk around when the “fasten seat belt” light is off.
  • Consider sitting in the back of the airplane where the engines are a little noisier. It provides white noise to calm baby if baby is crying.
  • If baby is sleeping on takeoff and landing, let them sleep. If not, try feeding. Have older children chew gum or drink beverages.
  • Log on to your airline’s website to receive notifications about flight delays.
  • Websites to visit prior to flying include:

Car Travel Tips

  • Travel at night or during nap times when babies are most likely to sleep.
  • Stop and stretch every few hours. Plan for the trip to take more time than when you traveled without children.
  • Avoid rush hour in big cities.
  • Try to keep kids entertained by playing games, reading books, etc.
  • Never leave baby in car unattended.

– Lori Polakowski is an IFS coordinator for the Parenting Program. This former flight attendant traveled extensively with her children.

Are we there yet?

Little girl looking out a train window

Unaltered image. Stuart Richards, Flickr. CC license.

Summer is a great time to disconnect from the family routine and hit the road! In our family, the summer months always provide an opportunity to travel. Recently we took our kids on a road trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and I found myself relying on some of the same “travel tools” we’ve used since our first child was born 13 years ago. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Pack a “car bag” to keep in the front of the car. Include garbage bags, wipes, hand sanitizer, water, and easy-to-eat-and-dole-out snacks — things like cereal (Apple Jacks are a favorite!), bagels, dried fruit, apples, lollipops. We also always pack plastic cups because they’re a great way to pass out snacks that aren’t packed individually and they can be reused for later snacks (plus, you can manage the portions). This is a great idea for plane or train rides, too!
  • Clean out the car at every stop. It makes the arrival so much easier in terms of getting rid of trash and it keeps your car clean along the way.
  • Pack headphones for each child. It allows the adults to listen to what they want to hear on the radio.
  • Each child in our family gets their own small duffel bag that gets packed in the back of the car. I use the bag like a set of drawers once we are at our destination. It makes finding things super easy for each kid and it keeps each child’s clothes separated and organized.
  • If any of your children have a special blanket, I suggest packing one in their duffel bag and keeping an extra one in the car so they can access it easily anytime you’re in the car.
  • For the toddlers in our family, I always pack a small “surprise” backpack that I fill beforehand with dollar items from Target: a coloring book, crayons, a book or two, stickers, Play-Doh®, Slinky®, bag of plastic animals … anything cheap that I would be willing to throw out at the end of the trip and that will keep them interested and busy in the car and at our destination. These are also great to bring along to restaurants to keep the little ones seated and busy!
  • Travel with cash. You never know when you’ll find a cool spot to stop at that doesn’t take debit/credit cards.
  • Time your gas stops with an opportunity for everyone to use the bathroom, stretch their legs, and perhaps buy a treat snack at the convenience store. This often motivates our kids to push on for one more hour on long trips.

Over the years, I’ve learned not to focus too much on just getting there. Some of our best memories were made on an unexpected pit stop or during a car game that produced a funny chant that we still sing today. And while the destination certainly provides its own share of memories, try to remember to enjoy the ride too!

– Andree Palmgren is a parent volunteer with the Beaumont Parenting Program and mom of four kids ages 13, 11, 8 and 4.

Oh deer, we have a big problem here

2 deer crossing road in front of car

Edited image. State Farm, Flickr. CC License.

I often joke with my hunter husband that he should bring me to deer camp, because I have a keen sense of deer presence in my periphery. So far I have avoided a deer collisions myself, but my husband and approximately 50,000 other Michiganders each year have not been as lucky. According to the most recent report from the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, there were 45,690 deer vehicle crashes last year in Michigan, with most crashes (1,750) occurring in Oakland County. Although deer-vehicle collisions occur year round, 42 percent occurred in fall when deer mating takes place.

My husband’s story aligns well with those statistics; he was on his way to our sons’ school Halloween parties when a buck chasing a doe hit his Dodge Ram. My husband later told me that he heard something loud hitting the car, and when he looked at his side view mirror to see what happened, he noticed the mirror was gone! He had no idea what happened until he pulled over and saw both deer.

As I said earlier, my husband is a hunter and couldn’t let the 200 pounds of fresh venison go to waste, so pursuant to Michigan law, he obtained a salvage tag from the police officer and had both deer processed. Luckily, neither he nor our daughter was injured in the collision, but she was in a car seat that needed to be replaced based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. For more information on replacing a car seat in a crash, read this article.

It’s very important to plan ahead what you would do should a deer cross your path. This is especially critical to review with your teen drivers so they have your instruction fresh on their minds. You can use this video as a good introduction to get the conversation started.

When drivers panic, they tend to swerve and end up striking a tree or another vehicle. That type of deer-related crash results in the most death and injuries. There is a saying, “Don’t veer for deer”, which reminds motorists what not to do for this very reason. The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) offers the following safety tips in the event a deer suddenly jumps in your way:

  • Don’t swerve!
  • Brake firmly.
  • Hold onto the steering wheel with both hands.
  • Come to a controlled stop.
  • Steer your vehicle well off the roadway

Other tips

  • Most deer-related traffic collisions occur at dusk and dawn when deer are more active.
  • Deer tend to travel in groups, so if you see one, expect more.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and avoid distractions such as texting. Having a quick reaction time is imperative!
  • Motorcyclists should be extra cautious. Last year six people were killed in Michigan, and all were on a motorcycle.
  • Motorcycle riders are advised to wear protective gear (including a helmet), cover the breaks to reduce reaction time, use high beam headlights, and stagger riders when in group formation to lessen the risk to others if one rider is hit.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System


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