Parents who travel with kids could probably write a thesis on it—the process can be long and arduous. Doing it during a pandemic isn’t any easier and can bring about unique challenges. Some relatable examples include trying to figure out whether you need a COVID-19 test, how you’ll get your kids to wear masks for the entirety of a flight, and how to keep them engaged. (Don’t get us started on the scene that occurs because of the ear-popping upon a flight’s descent.)
Now that the world is gradually finding its new normal, perhaps you’re ready to start traveling more frequently. What’s the least stressful way to do this with your kids?
ESSENCE spoke to expert travel correspondent and Clorox spokesperson Dayvee Sutton about how to make travel as a family easier, especially with the ever-changing rules and regulations. She tells us how you can streamline the process with kids, shares travel safety tips, as well as essentials.
ESSENCE: What is the easiest way to travel in this COVID-19 age?
Dayvee Sutton: We know traveling looks and feels a little different these days. Doing your research and being prepared is key to alleviating an already stressful situation.
To start, book with travel companies with flexible cancellation policies. Because things are changing all the time – whether at your destination, with the airlines or your own personal reasons – you want to be able to change plans at the last minute without a huge penalty. And as we head into spring and summer travel season, try to travel on off-peak days or times if you can. It can be hard during peak seasons when all the kids are off school, but think about traveling on other weekdays, early in the morning, late-evening or even flying overnight. Often those flights are cheaper, and the airport can be less crowded too.
What are some tips for parents traveling with young children?
Make a packing list! Many of us have been out of practice from traveling frequently so it can be easy to forget the small details with all the excitement for your upcoming vacation. By using a checklist, you can avoid forgetting things like your swimsuit, pajamas, or chargers for your electronics.
Your little ones have been living through the pandemic, too. So, just like you likely talked with them about staying safe and COVID-19 protocols for school, it’s also important to walk through with your family what the rules are for traveling. Making them aware that it will be necessary to wear their masks the entire time at the airport and on the airplane will save you from meltdowns and being embarrassed if confronted to follow the rules.
What are some travel safety tips for families?
About a week before your trip, double check all segments of your travel itinerary. That is everything from ground transportation to the hotel confirmation. I encourage you to check the news headlines at your destination, especially when traveling abroad. You want to make sure that you are not traveling into any unforeseen situations, like civil unrest or a new variant surge and possible shutdown.
After you’ve re-confirmed all your travel plans, copy those travel documents to your mobile phone or print it. (If you rely mostly on your devices, make sure that you are never without power otherwise you can find yourself in a situation where you don’t have access to any information or phone numbers in case of an emergency.) You can also share this information with close friends or family as a back-up.
I recommend trying to make all your purchases with credit cards, because you are protected in case of loss or theft. But don’t forget to carry some local currency in small bills for cash-only situations and tips.
What are travel essentials every family needs?
Disinfect On the Go: Whether traveling by car, plane or train, I always make sure to pack Clorox On-The-Go Disinfecting Wipes to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces such as tray tables, arm rests and steering wheels. Clorox also has a new travel-sized Clorox Disinfecting Mist (3.4 oz), which can be used to disinfect a variety of hard surfaces as well as sanitize soft surfaces – perfect for a hotel room as it can kill germs on everything from the TV remote to the bedding.
Self-Care Essentials: Between stress, dehydration and lack of sleep, traveling can certainly take a toll on our bodies. Make sure you’re adding self-care essentials to your carry-on packing list, such as an eye mask, ear plugs, reusable water bottle and any vitamins or medications you may need throughout your journey.
Pack Your Own Snacks: There are so many variables when traveling and sometimes you will not be able to stop to get a snack or food for hours. So, the last thing you want your family to get is hangry. I recommend you have an arsenal of snacks and pack empty water bottles so that in case there is a delay or stores are closed, you can eat a little something until you reach a place for a proper meal.
Travel Insurance: I think it’s essential to have travel insurance when traveling these days. There are so many factors that are out of our control and travel insurance can be the resource you need in an emergency. Sure, most of the time you will not need to use it, but should you be stranded in a foreign country or need medical attention while on an island, then you will not only have a help you can call, but it can save your budget from the unexpected costs.