Traveling with young kids during the pandemic
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
There is traveling with young kids and then there is traveling with young kids during covid-19. What's the difference you may ask? Is it only making sure that my kids are wearing their masks and practicing proper handwashing techniques?
Traveling during this time of covid-19 has somewhat been a completely different experience. It has sure changed the way that I think about traveling especially with kids. This time around does cause for a lot more strategic planning and precautionary measures than any other time of travel before covid-19.
It is the season of spring break and summer is already on the horizon. What that means is that we are heading into the peak season of increased travel. Some states are now lowering their covid-19 restrictions which allow for more increased travel during this prior busy tourism season. Now that the kids are going to be out of school, many families are definitely planning where they want to take their family for a "long, well-needed no pun intended, I definitely can relate" vacation.
Yes, I admit, being house-bound for a long time with the kids and trying to keep them entertained has been tough enough for some families, including ours. Now you're probably contemplating whether or not to travel during this period and you're not sure what to really expect, especially while traveling with the younger ones.
We took a recent family vacation and flew to visit family in Pennsylvania. We also did a mini one-day road trip while there on alternative days to two other states, New York and Washington DC, which were both located about 2 hours away.
This is what I have experienced on this trip so far, and the safety measures that you can take while traveling with children during this time.
Are you planning on doing any traveling with kids soon? What are your concerns? Let me know. Please feel free to share your own experiences or ask your questions or concerns in our FORUM section. I will be happy to help you!
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“Planning travel with younger kids during this time requires more strategic planning and precautionary measures than any other time of travel."
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
RESEARCH THE COUNTRY OR STATE THAT YOU ARE TRAVELING TO FOR RESTRICTIONS
Make sure to research every destination that you are planning on traveling to especially if you choose to fly to your location of choice. We had plans to travel during thanksgiving time and unfortunately the destination that we choose had restrictions for quarantine, which we found out several days before travel.
That didn't work well for us especially since the restrictions were so vague and did not have instructions on travel with younger kids. We decided to cancel our plans and wait for another time to travel, that would be less of a hassle.
Therefore, plan accordingly with the country or state's rules and laws both locally and internationally. Also If you do plan to travel via air, make sure to check the restrictions based on the time frame of which the covid-19 test has to be administered.
RESEARCH WHETHER OR NOT PLACES OR ATTRACTIONS THAT YOU WISH TO VISIT ARE OPEN
Another thing that we weren't aware of was whether or not the places or attractions that we wanted to visit would be open. In Florida, most museums and theme parks are already opened for visitors. That may not be the case in other states or even countries.
When we got to DC, the museums were actually closed, so that was a bummer for us, as it was one of the attractions we wanted to see. However, the monuments and other outdoor attractions were opened, so we still got to do some tours, which was super fun.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York was actually open which was awesome for us as well and we got to tour both areas on our visit.
Therefore check before making arrangements whether or not the place or activities that you would like to visit is actually open.
Opt-in for car rental if you have the option to instead of relying on public transportation, especially with young children.
Car rental in my opinion is just a safer alternative for travel, especially during this time.
I would suggest limiting as much public transportation as possible. Public transportation is limited in most areas and is restricted to the number of people that can travel during each trip.
On our trip, we decided to stay locally with our family instead and did a mini one-day-only road trip to our chosen destinations.
If you do decide to reserve hotel accommodations during your trip, I recommend researching ahead of time what are the covid-19 policies and restrictions at the hotel, and what policies are in place to ensure the safety of their guest?
Also, check what amenities are open for guests as well. Most restaurants and public areas such as the swimming pool or gym may not be opened to the public. That can sure limit the hotel getaway experience you may have been looking forward to.
PACK ENOUGH SANITIZING PRODUCTS
Pack enough sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizers for everyone. I like to have the small portable clip-on hand sanitizers available for when there is not enough access to public sanitizers at your location or destination.
It's good to have as much as you may need for your trip to avoid having to purchase anything because of a possible shortage in supply that can happen in the busy tourist season.
PACK EXTRA MASK
Make sure to pack extra masks for everyone, especially the little ones. Don't forget that restrictions vary at different locations. Some may require masks to be worn for everyone ( not age-specific) both indoor and outdoor, while some only allow adults or children over the age of 2. Make sure to therefore have a well-fitted mask for everyone traveling with you, especially the little ones.
I prefer getting disposable masks for my kids because let's face it, they drop their masks oh so often. Also, the mask gets dirty easily from eating food, sneezing or coughing, etc.
We purchased a box of disposable masks from our local Costco or on Amazon, and it helped a lot during our trip. You can also get lanyards that can help to keep the mask from falling on the floor, especially for the younger ones.
PACK ENOUGH ENTERTAINMENT FOR KIDS
This time will require more entertainment for your kids. The reason why this is different is that you want your children, especially the younger ones to stay in one area as much as possible, than before where you would have probably allow them to run around a lot more.
Because we want to restrict our kids from running around too much and touching everything around them, we have to find more engagement for them in one spot.
That will mean having more activities that will keep them in the same area for a longer period of time, especially during the flight, when it is a bit more restricted with movement. That may include, electronic devices, coloring books, small handheld games or toys, etc.
PACK YOUR OWN BLANKETS AND SUPPLIES
Before covid-19, blankets, and supplies were readily available, especially on international flights. Now, this may not be the case anymore. Many airlines are offering limited services aboard their flights and as a result, you may have to bring whatever you need onboard.
I, therefore, recommended packing an extra small blanket for travel and your own supplies (e.g. earphones, toiletries, etc.), especially for the younger kids.
DURING YOUR TRIP
ARRIVE EARLIER THAN NORMAL
If you are like me, sometimes as a mom we may get the timing wrong and get to the airport just in the nick of time before a flight. Trying to pack, get ready and run to the airport with two active boys, who want to go potty right after driving off is the norm for getting to the airport just before the gate closes.
This time, however, make every effort to get there on time just to be able to relax and breathe right before take-off. The processing timeline for flights at the airport may be longer as a result of social distancing, taking precautions, etc. To avoid any unnecessary hassle, I would advise all moms to get to the airport a lot sooner especially with the little ones.
It is way much better to wait at the airport with an hour to go than to find yourself running through airport security with strict social distancing protocols in place. There is no jumping over anyone to catch a flight anymore.
You have to stay in your lane and obey the regulations, due to social distancing. This will probably be even worse as we get closer to the summer months with more crowds. So plan accordingly.
CHECK FOR RESTROOM ACCESS EVERYWHERE YOU GO
I don't know if this is my mommy instinct that kicks in, but everywhere I go, I check my location for the nearest restroom and the ease of access as soon as I arrive.
Now it is twice amplified during this time as it provides easier access to frequent handwashing. It also allows the younger kids to have much more time to go potty so that it reduces the stress of always having to go on a treasure hunt for a bathroom nearby.
MAKE USE OF HAND SANITIZERS AVAILABLE AT ANY DESTINATION
My hubby is not a fan of hand sanitizers everywhere especially if they are not the best smelling ones, but personally, I am happy they are now available in most places. I would have wished they were there before covid-19 for all the kiddie mishaps that we oh so dread whenever we take them out.
This however makes it so much easier to get a quick sanitizing of the hands, especially if you are not near to a bathroom. You know and I know that kids just touch everything and anything they can get their little hands on.
It also allows you to save some of the ones you brought along so that they will last longer on your trip anyway.
BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS AND WATER
I don't like traveling with any liquids for my kids, especially if we are short on time to catch a flight. You are allowed to bring liquids for younger children but be reminded that it has to get checked thoroughly and will therefore take up much more time getting through the security checkpoint.
We also usually just get snacks wherever we travel to just for its convenience and reduce our travel load and pounds (I refuse to pay for overweight baggage). This time around however was an exception and I did pack enough snacks and water to avoid having to purchase too many things in different areas, especially when we got to New York and Washington DC.
Be reminded that some convenience stores have not re-opened as yet to the public, or are only opened for a limited time. Therefore the grab-and-go snacks or food are not as convenient anymore. You may have to get to a grocery store to do most of your shopping.
Pack as many snacks or food that you may need for your trip. Otherwise, visit a local supermarket or gas station grocery store and get the foods you may need upon arriving at your destination.
MAY HAVE LIMITED RESTAURANT AVAILABILITY AND SEATING
Depending on your location of choice for travel, expect that there may or may not be restaurants fully opened and functioning. Some restaurants are still temporarily closed while others may be opened only for take-out or contactless delivery.
Some open restaurants, only provide limited seating, therefore expect major wait times and also longer service times. That is definitely a hassle especially with younger children who may need to eat more frequently. This is where my suggestion to have more than enough snacks at hand available when this happens.
When visiting the major cities that have more popular restaurants, I would suggest finding more restaurants outside of the city that may not have a longer wait time based on the capacity for seating guests.
That was the case for New York City. We were excited to visit one of our favorite New York City restaurants at the time but the lines and wait time was pretty long, especially having the kids with us. We opted instead to visit the same restaurant in another part of town in the not-so-busy area and had less of a wait time and also long lines. The food arrived at our tables quicker than we expected and we were oh so happy.
AFTER YOUR TRIP
As soon as you get home, just throw everything into the laundry and wash it right away or just store them in your laundry room until you have the time to wash them.
The key is to not mix the clothes that you have traveled with along with your regular clothes by repacking them. Just wash everything and repack them later.
SCHEDULE A POST-TRIP TIME OFF
Schedule the time off for no travel after your trip for a day or more preferably, just to get your children settled back in and also use it as a time for them to rest, and recuperate from any jet lag.
It can also give you some time to check for any temperature changes, sniffles, stomach issues, that kids may experience. You don't want to just go back into your normal routine right away.
Also, make sure to get some post-vacation rest for yourself as well, and check out my blog post on A Mom in need of a TIME-OUT.
LIMIT VISITS FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS
I know this is very difficult to do at times, but it is necessary to just take a momentary break from everyone especially after traveling for just a while.
It is a precautionary measure that should be done to ensure everyone's safety and that includes your loved ones as well.
If you are planning an upcoming trip or family vacation, I do hope that this blog post will be helpful for you. I really want you to be aware of everything that I can help you with based on my own experiences to ensure a smoother transition during travel with younger kids.
Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.
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