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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Vacation, just when I thought I was over you...

Last night I attended the general meeting of my local mothers club. The topic was one particularly close to my heart these days: travel. Specifically, the joys of traveling with kids. I know. I know that we just got back from a week long vacation in New York, but now I want to go to Mexico. Or Hawaii. Or San Diego. People, I've been bit bad. I'm all itchy with the traveling bug.

The speaker--Kelly Rungh of San Carlos-based travel agency Family Travel--was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She has two kids of her own and she's taken them all over the world. I came home last night with a humongous stack of glossy travel brochures and the following tips and tricks, which I will share with you now on the off chance you, too, will be hitting the road this summer with your kids in tow.

Tips for traveling with babies and toddlers by plane

  • Children under two don't need their own ticket and can be lap babies, i.e., they must sit on your lap unless there is an open seat available.
  • If child is close to two but you are traveling with him as a lap baby, you may be asked to show proof of age. Bring a birth certificate or immunization record to prove the child is under the age of two.
  • If you buy a ticket for a child under two, you usually can get a half price ticket. Online ticket buying isn't set up for this discount. To get it, find the best online price, then call the airline to buy the tickets.
  • Some airlines don't allow you to have a baby in a Baby Bjorn.
  • Kelly recommends each child have his own seat and babies also be in car seats. They tend to understand that they can't get out of a car seat and also they may sleep more during the flight.
  • Check out the sit 'n' stroll for a combination car seat and stroller designed for travel.
  • Car seats need to be in a window seat, according to airline rules. Remember this when ordering tickets.
  • Take your stroller with you. Bring it to the gate and check it there. It will be waiting for you when you land.
  • Buy little, secret treats for your kids for the plane. Treats could include small toys, playing cards, crayons, notebooks, hot wheels, etc. Wrap them to prolong opening time.
  • Too much sugar is probably a bad idea, but those little dum dum lollipops can go a long way to keep a child happy and occupied.
  • Nurse babies on take-off and landing to prevent ear pain.

International travel

  • All persons, including babies, need a passport to travel internationally.
  • Effective January 1, 2007, all travelers entering or re-entering the United States from any international country (now including the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada) must present a government-issued passport to clear U.S. Customs. This is a change from prior documentation requirements.
  • For overseas travel, adapt the family to the new time zone.
  • If you have stepchildren, you are required to carry a notarized letter from the other parent authorizing the traveling parent to take the child out of the country. If one parent is deceased, you should carry a certificate of death. This rule is not always enforced, but if it is and you don't have the required paperwork, you could be stuck. Be especially diligent if children have different last names.

General tips

  • You can rent car seats with rental cars for about $6-8/day.
  • Suite style hotel rooms are great for families with kids. Eating breakfast in the room can help start the day on the right foot.
  • Bring masking tape for spontaneous babyproofing. It can be used to cover outlets and sharp edges.
  • Most hotels do have cribs available; however, be aware that a hotel may not be checking for recalls.
  • Put crib in dark corner of room. Consider the bathroom or a large closet for the crib.
  • Ground floor rooms mean no scary balconies or people on the floor below getting annoyed when your kids run around being kids.

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