Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe And Yourself Sane While Traveling For The Holidays

Image courtesy of frankieleon

While you might now be a pro at traveling with kids for the holidays, remember that every year there are millions of new families making that trip with a toddler for the first time. So rather than scowl with derision at the parents trying to quiet their crying kid, let’s use this moment to share some tips that will help keep the young ones safe while protecting parents’ sanity.

Our colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports are all about safety and optimization, and they’ve pulled together a list of items to consider when it’s time to cram everyone in to planes, trains, and automobiles and make for grandma’s house. Some key items?

  • If you can, buy an airplane seat for baby and put a carseat in it. Airplane seats are expensive, especially during peak travel seasons, and children ages 2 and under can fly free on your lap. We know: that’s a strong incentive. But much as in a car, junior is safest during air travel in an approved child safety seat.
  • Make sure that seat is approved for airline use. Most modern carseats you buy are, but you’ll need to have a look on the labels for language about it being an FAA-approved device.
  • Be prepared to advocate — politely but accurately — for yourself. This one’s from us. We here at Consumerist routinely hear stories about airplane crews not recognizing approved child safety equipment or disallowing families from using infant seats. You’re allowed to use an approved infant seat or CARES harness on a flight for your child, but some staff may be unfamiliar with them, and you may have to explain.
  • Bring your own carseat if you’re renting a car. CR points out that although you can rent one, you may be unfamiliar with it and it may not come with instructions for installation. Yours truly says from personal experience that you do not want to be standing in a sub-zero parking lot for two hours with a five-month-old while you and your spouse try to make the dang thing work just to find out it’s broken.
  • If you’re traveling by train… good luck. You can’t usually reserve a seat on Amtrak, and there are no safety belts to hook down an infant carrier with. So you’re going to have to be careful and patient to make sure your little one stays stable.

The full list of tips is over at Consumer Reports.