Travel Tips--Kids  |  Children                Back to Travel

Kids Traveling Tips Children
Traveling with children can bring special challenges and provide wonderful opportunities. It can also provide your whole family with wonderful memories to last a lifetime, but you have to live through it first. A little research, discussion, planning and preparation can go a long way in improving your familyís trip. We can help you make these steps so every member of your family can enjoy a happier, safer and healthier trip. In addition to reading this section, you should also read our other travel tips sections since many of those tips apply both to children and adults

What should I bring along on the trip?

  • Pediatricianís name, regular and emergency phone numbers.

  • Extra eyeglasses or contacts if you have them.

  • Medications and prescriptions. Be sure to carry the generic names of medicines with you since the brand names of many medications may vary by region.

  • An address book with your childís friendsí names and addresses so they can send out postcards.

  • A nightlight to help light up an unfamiliar room.

  • If your child uses a step up to see the bathroom mirror in your house, you might bring it along.

  • Items to childproof a room, such as outlet plugs and pipe cleaners. Use pipe cleaners to hold up curtain cords or close cabinets.

  • If you are traveling with an infant, donĎt forget to bring a bottlebrush and some dish soap.

  • Baby wipes are good to bring in the car, as well as little bottles of water.

  • If itís small enough, bring along your childís favorite toy.

  • Their blanket, if they are still of the age where a blanket is a close personal friend.

  • Updated pictures of your children in case they wander off. Youíll need recent pictures so others can help you look for them.

How should I pack for my children?

  • Consider packing each complete outfit in separate clear trash bags. Keeping an entire outfit in a bag will allow them to pick out one complete outfit so theyíll have everything they need to get ready in one place. This will help you to organize your packing for them, and also save them time getting ready on the trip. The plastic bags will help with wrinkling. Since all their items will be together, it will help keep them from digging through all your clothes looking for parts of their outfits.  They can then use the plastic bags to collect their dirty clothes.

  • Use freezer bags with a seal for all their little stuff so it doesnít end up mixed in all your clothes.

  • Put some of your items in their luggage and put some of their items in your luggage. This will give you both something to fall back on in case either of your bags goes missing.

  • Just as you should with your own, make sure you completely label the inside and outside of their luggage with complete contact and itinerary information.

  • Extra shoes and an extra swimsuit.

    Picking A Kid Friendly Hotel

    What should I find out about special rates or deals for children?

    • If a free breakfast is included in your stay, does it have items your children will want to eat for breakfast?

    • Do kids eat for free in the Hotelís restaurant?

    • Do kids stay free?

    • What are the conditions of the free stay program?

    • Do you get an extra discount if you book more than one room?

    • You might be able to get an even cheaper rate by booking two separate adults in adjoining rooms with one child each, than booking two rooms as a family of four.

    How can I find the best Hotel for my kids?

    • What type of pool does the Hotel have?

    • Does the Hotel have a kiddy pool?

    • Does the pool have a lifeguard on duty? When is a lifeguard on duty?

    • Does the Hotel have a common play area? Is this area supervised?

    • Are nonsmoking rooms available?

    • Can you book adjoining rooms?

    • Are rental cribs available?

    • Does the Hotel have cots or rollouts available for rent?

    • Does the Hotelís restaurant include a kidís menu?

    Do Hotels offer babysitting services?

    • Yes, many Hotels offer a babysitting service.

    • Some will have facilities for childcare on the property.

    • Other Hotels will bring babysitters that are provided by an outside agency on property.

    • In some cases, the children are taken to an off-property location to provide childcare.

    Should I use the Hotelís babysitting services?

    If itís a special night out for adults, then make it special for the children. Maybe they can enjoy an in-room movie, a new game to play and pizza delivery. If you have teenagers with you, donít always use your teenagers as babysitters. Itís a vacation for them too. So, what can you do? Theyíre your children, so youíll have to decide whether you feel comfortable enough to leave them with the Hotel. Youíll certainly want the answers to some questions before you decide.

    • Does the Hotel have an internal babysitting service or do they recommend any?

    • What are the hours of the babysitting service?

    • What is the cost of the babysitting service?

    • What are the time limits on the length of stay allowed at the babysitting service?

    • Are there any other restrictions on placing a child with the service, such as they must be potty trained, present certain vaccination certificates, or meet certain age parameters?

    • What qualifications and training requirements must their staff meet?

    • What are the ages of the caregivers?

    • Are criminal and other background checks done on the service employees?

    • Are caregivers trained to perform CPR on children and infants?

    • Can they take your children to the Hotelís pool?

    • If it is a common area provider, what is the caregiver to child ratio?

    • Is the center and/or their caregivers properly insured?

    • What security measures are used when a child is picked up from the center?

    What should I do if the Hotel uses an outside supplier for its babysitting services?

    If it is an outside sitting agency get their number and call them directly. Youíll want to ask them the same questions you would ask if the Hotel had its own center, to satisfy your concerns about your childís safety. Youíll be able to better evaluate their program if you call them directly than if you just get your information through the Hotel.

    How can I make our room safer for my children?

    • Check the safety of the rental cribs. Do they have weight restrictions? Do the widths of the bars meet federal safety requirements?

    • Can the Hotel childproof the room for you? If not, can they provide the materials such a plug inserts so that you can childproof the room yourself?

    • Ask the Hotel to remove any questionable movie advertising from your room and block those movies from your room.

    • Be the first to look through any brochures or coupon books that are left in your hotel room since some accept adult advertising.

    • Although the Hotels clean the sheets each day, even the best Hotels find it too cost prohibitive to dry-clean the bedís comforter with each guest. Since you donít know what previous guests have done on your comforter, you might want to avoid lying on top of the comforter. Pull the comforter off and if you brought your childís blanket, place it on the bed. It will help your child feel more at home.

    • Make sure your windows and balconies are always locked.

    • Evaluate the railing on the balconies. Would it be easy for your child to climb over, could their head get stuck between the rails? These risks are why you might consider requesting a first floor room.

    • Inform your child of the Hotelís name and address. Many major chain hotels have several locations along the same street in tourist areas. Place a "Iím staying atÖ" in their pocket.

    • Many hotels can provide printed cards or postcards that you could use for this purpose.

    • Teach them how to stay safe if you have to leave them alone in the room.

    What should I do if I have to leave my child alone in the room?

    • If you leave your child in the room by themselves, tell them to always keep the door closed and locked.

    • Tell them they shouldnít identify themselves as being alone in the room.

    • They should ask the name and purpose of the person knocking on the door.

    • Teach them how to call the front desk to verify the identity of anyone knocking at the door before they open it.

    • If the person is not a Hotel employee and is dropping off something unexpected for someone in the party, tell your child to have them drop it off at the front desk. This could merely be a ploy to get the door open.

    • If the person is trying to deliver something and says that they must have a signature, tell your child to instruct them to deliver the item to the front desk. Have them tell the person that they are calling the front desk now to authorize the delivery. Again, this could merely be a ploy to get the door open.

    Why should I take my child on a Hotel tour when we first arrive at the Hotel?

    • It will help them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.

    • Itís a good opportunity to introduce them to the people at the front desk, who could help them if they have a problem. Let them know the people will change, but someone behind the desk can help them if they need it.

    • To help them to not get lost and make sure they know their way back to your room.

    • So you can show them the fire exits, stairs and fire extinguishers.

    • You can explain the pool area safety rules to them.

    What does my child need to know about the Hotelís bill?

    • To avoid surprises at check out, explain how the roomís mini-bar works, their use of in-room movies and telephone calls.

    • If you donít want these services, you can ask for the items in the mini-bar to be removed and in room movies to be blocked. Make sure the front desk is aware that the Hotelís staff has removed the mini-barís items.

    • Tell your children that if they try to sneak something, the Hotelís billing system will catch them and that youíll find out about it.

    • If you have older children, come to an agreement on how to use the phone, specifically long distance calls.

 

How can I prepare the car to provide a better trip for my children?

  • A clean car will make everyone more comfortable.

  • Try to remove any odors that will bother noses. Be careful not to over scent to cover old odors, you may just pick new annoying ones. Check the back seat ashtray for ashes.

  • Fill the car up before you pack everyone in. A gas stop will delay your trip and gas fumes can upset little noses.

Do we all have to wear our seatbelts?

  • Most states have passed mandatory seatbelt laws for the driver of the car.

  • In many states, such as Florida, both passengers in the front seats are required to wear seatbelts, regardless of age.

  • Not wearing a seatbelt could be a violation of your personal automobile insurance policy.

Should I use car seats?

  • Yes, use car seats and put your kids in the backseat.

  • In Florida, as well as most U.S. States, children three and under must be secured in a child seat that meets Federal safety standards.

  • Some states may require even older children to be placed in car seats, and youíll be held accountable to the laws of whichever state you are traveling.

  • If you have an infant seat, be sure to see that it is balanced properly. Most have a level so they can be balanced to avoid choking.

Do I have to bring my car seat if I am planning on renting a car?

  • Many major rental car companies have child seats available for rent, check with your company about cost and availability.

  • Many Rental Car companies do not carry booster seats. You may want to check and see if you need to bring your own.

Can I leave my child in the car while I run into the store?

  • State laws vary, but under Florida Law you may not leave a child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle if the vehicle is running or if the health of the child is in danger. Also, you may not leave a child under six years of age, unattended or unsupervised for a period of time in excess of 15 minutes. Since you must turn the car off and that will mean no air-conditioning, you may end up risking the health of your child in much sooner than 15 minutes.

  • It is best to avoid leaving your child unattended or unsupervised in the car for any period of time.

What should I consider before taking the scenic route?

  • The adultís idea of scenic, might be the idea of boring for your children.

  • The scenic route might not be the best route for the youngest travelers. They may be strapped in and too short to see much out the windows.

  • The scenic route will usually have more curvy roads making carsickness more likely.

  • This route is also usually the longest and may stress your child even more with the length of an already long trip.

How can I make our time together in the car more enjoyable for everyone?

  • Check out the route, know what roads you are planning on taking and find out if you need to avoid any road construction so you can avoid unnecessary delays.

  • Find some areas to take breaks along the way so your trip is less tiresome.

  • Play games in the car to help shorten the trip. Hunt for different license plate numbers, see who can add up license plate numbers of the cars that pass you the quickest. Kids get a head start since they are in the backseat. Play "I spy". See who can find the most out of state license plates. See who can find the most models of cars.

  • Bring along games or toys to help shorten the ride. Avoid items with lots of small pieces.

  • You might also consider small prizes or presents at regular intervals along the trip. New toys often receive the most interest and will help keep your child occupied.

  • If your children are old enough, give them a map of their own. Have them keep track of your progress by making them the navigator.

  • Schedule a quiet time for everyone in the car to enjoy. But, enforce the rules so adults are included and must also obey this rule.

  • Buy some new interesting audio books for a story time while on the trip.

  • If your music interests are vastly different than your childrenís, you might consider getting them a portable CD or tape player and bring lots of batteries. But, agree in advance about its usage times.

  • Take advantage of this time together and talk to your kids.

  • Wake up sleepers a few minutes before you arrive at stops. This will give them time to adjust and be ready to get out as soon as the car stops.

What snacks should I bring for the road trip?

  • Bring along plenty of water and munchies in the car. It will be much cheaper to buy these at the grocery store than pay the convenience store prices. It might also save you some extra stops.

  • Sticking to water will be much easier on your body than drinking lots of cola. Remember to avoid large amounts of caffeine. Caffeine can wear on your nerves. If the driver needs large amounts of caffeine to stay awake then itís time to pull over for the night.

  • Have the adults keep control of the munchies so mealtimes arenít ruined.

  • You donít want to get yourself sick with all the junk food along the roadside, so you might want to consider eating a healthy meal or at least bring some healthy snacks.

  • If it has ever made them sick at home, there seems to be a guarantee that it will make them sick on the road.

Where is a good place to take a break on a road trip?

  • Now, after talking about eating healthy, remember that some of the fast-food restaurants now have play areas. McDonaldís and Burger King both are offering free play areas at many of their restaurants. These can be a good place to stretch those legs and burn off some energy along the road. The adults can take their time eating without the little ones getting fidgety at the table.

  • Be careful when using rest stops along the road. Pass them up if they arenít well lit or seem unsafe. Remember to lock your car doors when you go inside. Since many rest stops suffer from criminal activity, you should always accompany your children into the restroom at a rest stop.

  • Well-lit, busy gas stations can provide a safe place to take a quick break.

  • Truck stops are designed to provide a safe place to take a break. Just be warned that you can run into some inappropriate adult items in their gift shops.

How can I find information on road conditions, construction and rest areas?

Go To:  Department of Transportation Links

Check out the roads before you go. This page contains links to the Departments of Transportation for all 50 States. Each stateís site is different, but most sites contained detailed information on highway construction, road closings, rest areas and maps. Many of the sites also contain links to major cities within their own state.

How can I pick the best Airline for my children?

  • Check for special rates for children. Generally children under two fly free, but that usually means on your lap. Youíll have to purchase a ticket to guarantee them a seat.

  • Check to see if the Airline has a childís menu available. What types of selections are available? The Airlines generally do not provide baby food or formula, but check to see if they will have the ability to heat formula if you provide it.

  • Donít expect the Airline Stewards to help you change diapers. Since they handle food, they are restricted in what they can handle to keep everyone on board safe.

What is the Airlineís baggage policy for childrenís tickets?

  • Are they allowed baggage if they are traveling for free?

  • Do they have the same checked baggage and carry-on allowance on a childís ticket as a full fare adult ticket?

  • Do they count a diaper bag against your carry-on allowance?

  • Do they allow strollers as a carry-on? If they donít, ask for a gate check for the stroller so you can use it in the airport. Umbrella type folding strollers are the most likely to be allowed on board.

How can I find out about my Airline's luggage restrictions and limits?

Check out their web site for information.
Go To: Airlines Links

What should I pack in my childís carry-on luggage?

  • Pack your childís carry-on as carefully as you pack one for yourself.

  • Include their medications, pediatricianís name and phone number and any other items they need to make it for at least 24-hours in case your luggage is lost or delayed. Although, you may want to put their important medical information in your carry-on luggage.

  • Consider bringing some of your childís favorite munchies along on the trip since the airlineís donít serve meals immediately and may not have exactly what your child wants. Remember that with international travel, you may be limited on items such as fresh fruit that wonít be able to pass through customs.

  • Pack an extra shirt for your child and yourself, accidents do happen.

  • Check to see if the airline has any packets or gifts for your child. Airline wings have become standard, but some provide entertainment packets with games, puzzles or coloring books. Youíll want to provide plenty of entertainment to keep your child happy.

  • You might also include a swimsuit or other appropriate recreational clothes to give your children something to do in case their checked luggage goes missing or is delayed.

Can I enroll my child in a frequent flyer program?

Yes, most programs accept children as well as adults. Enrolling your child in a frequent flyer program will earn them points for every paid ticket. There is often no cost to join so you may as well get them started early earning those free points.

Where should we sit?

  • If you have small children, see if you can reserve a bulkhead seat. Those seats have more legroom and provide more of an area for your child to move around. The only real negative of the bulkhead seating is you wonít have under seat storage in front of you.

  • If you have a baby, check to see if the Airline can provide a bassinet for you to place in the bulkhead area.

  • Only one child is allowed to sit on an adultís lap for every three-seat row because of the limited number of oxygen masks available. If two adults are flying together and both are planning on having a child on their lap, youíll need to book seats in different rows of the plane.

  • If you are planning on using a car seat for your child, it must have a Federal Aviation Administration approval sticker. You must also purchase a seat to guarantee that you will be able to use their car seat, otherwise you can only use it if the flight has empty seats available. Many booster seats are not FAA approved for use.

  • Booking a seat in the middle of the plane near the wings will provide the smoothest ride.

  • With all the activities in the aisle, and potential for items to fall from the overhead storage, it might be best to place yourself between your child and the aisle.

  • Children are NOT allowed to sit in the planeís exit row seats since passengers in those seats are called upon to provide assistance in the case of an emergency. This ban includes children sitting on the lap of an adult passenger.

Where can I find information on using a child seat on an airplane?

www.faa.gov/apa/publicat/crstips.htm

This Federal Aviation Administration site contains tips for parents using child restraints on aircraft.

What can I do to help prepare my child for their first experience with flying?

  • Since a first flight can be a scary experience for anyone, spend some time preparing your child for the trip.

  • You might consider role-playing games. Take them through a check-in and a security check. Set up a row of seats and run them through a take off. Make sure you include engine noise and turbulence in the games so they know that these things are normal and will be comfortable when they experience them on the plane.

  • Read them some books with traveling themes. Theyíll be more interested and at ease with the whole process.

  • If you fear they will suffer from motion sickness, see if your pediatrician can provide something to help.

  • If you fear flying yourself, try to buck up and not pass that fear onto your child. If they see that you are scared, they may also develop a fear of flying that will stay with them as adults. Your childís first experiences with flying will probably help or haunt you both on future trips.

How can I reduce the negative effects of flying on my childís ears?

  • The planes are pressurized, but your ears are still sensitive to the change in altitude.

  • If your child has a head cold, try anything that has worked before to clear it up before you travel.

  • If your child has an ear infection, youíll want to discuss the trip with your pediatrician. Ear infections can be extremely painful for those traveling on an airplane.

  • Children and some adults are particularly good at smuggling hotel pool water home from their vacation. Buy some drops and get it out before you fly.

  • Children and adults both find relief from sucking on candy or juicy chewing gum, the act of chewing and swallowing relieves the pressure on the ears at take off and landing. Be careful when choosing the juicy treat for small children to avoid the possibility of choking during turbulence.

  • Nursing a baby can be used to help the babyís ears.

  • Yawning is also a good way to relieve the pressure on your ears.

  • If your child is sleeping, you should consider waking them up before you begin descent. The landing is usually harder on the ears and since you swallow less when you sleep; your child may wake up on the ground in pain.

  • Whatever method you use, do it all through take off and landing so you can adjust little by little.

When is a good time of day to fly with children?

  • Consider your childís habits. Like adults, children tend to be morning or evening people. If you try to travel too far away from their daily schedule, you could both suffer.

  • Check into flying during non-peak hours, which are usually late midday and midweek. Youíll have a better chance of getting the free separate seat for your child, and you might also find more room to stretch out.

  • Consider booking a flight during the childís naptime so some of the flight will pass while the child is asleep. But, the timing is critical. Youíll want to make sure naptime hits when youíre already on the plane. Delaying naptime can cause a real headache if you are trying to make it through an airport with a fussy child.

  • If you have a long flight, consider an overnight flight. Maybe your child will be able to sleep through the flight.

Where can I find information to help me plan an easier trip through the airport for my children?

Go To: US Airports & Foreign Airports Links

This page contains web links to many major U.S. and foreign airports. Although, each airportís site is different many contain airport terminal layouts and features, parking information, flight delays and other items that could save you time and help make your visit a safe one. This links page also lists many airport codes that can be helpful when making Airline reservations so you and your luggage will be heading to the right airport.

What type of documentation will I need if Iím taking my child out of the country?

  • They usually need the same identification that is required of an adult. If the travel requires an adult to have a passport, the child will also need a passport.

  • If a child is traveling out of country with only one of the childís parents, youíll probably have to provide written permission from the other parent that the child may leave the country. Youíll probably need a notarized statement from the other parent, but youíll want to check with the Airline for their policy on this matter.

  • Without the proper paperwork, the Airline may refuse to board your child.

  • All travel documents are the responsibility of the passenger.

How can I find out if my children will need a passport or visa for their trip?

travel.state.gov/foreignentryreqs.html

The U.S. State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairsí Foreign Entry Requirements web page. This site lists the entry requirements of foreign countries. It also includes the addresses and telephone numbers of foreign embassies and consulates in the United States. This web site is a good starting point, but since the information presented is subject to change, you should also check directly with the embassy or consulate of the country you a planning to visit.

Go To:  Embassy Links

This page contains links to many foreign countriesí Embassies and Consulate Offices located in the United States. Each Embassyís web site is different, but they all contain contact information and other helpful information for anyone planning on visiting their country.

What problems may children have with security?

Donít let your child bring any toy guns, even an obviously fake souvenir pioneerís musket. They probably wonít be allowed through security. Youíll have to put them in with your checked luggage, all the way back at the counter with the long lines.

When should I board the plane?

If you are traveling with two adults, have one board first with all the carry-on bags and get everything situated while the other waits off the plane with the child. The other adult can then board later with the child to minimize the childís waiting time before take off.

How can I make my childís flight more comfortable?

  • Grab a blanket and pillow as soon as you get on the plane since they tend to go fast and may run out by the time you need one.

  • Even if they can sit on your lap for free, consider buying them their own seat. Youíll both be more comfortable. If you are not sure if itís worth the money, try it out at home. How easy is it for your child to sit on your lap for the same amount of time they will need to on the plane?

  • Request a childís meal when you make your reservation.

  • Ask the flight attendant to feed your child first.

  • Take a little bathroom break and stretch those legs. Remind your child that you canít always go to the bathroom when you need to on a plane. Explain that the seat belt sign could come on anytime and then everyone has to stay in their seats.

What do I need to do if my child is traveling alone?

  • Inquire about the Airlineís policies about children traveling alone.

  • Find out what kind of special paperwork and identification your child will need.

  • Find out the minimum age restriction for children traveling alone.

What type of flight is the best to book if my child is traveling alone?

  • If your child is traveling alone, try to book a nonstop flight. Direct or connecting flights both have stops and will only slow down and complicate your childís trip, which will increase the chance for problems.

  • Avoid the last flight of the day. Many Airlines ban children from taking the last flight of the day or connecting onto the last flight of the day. This is a good idea because a problem with the flight would result in a complicated overnight stay.

How will I know if my child will be safe?

Start by asking the questions listed below as well as those for any other relevant issues.

  • What special precautions does the Airline take to guarantee your childís safety?

  • Are the planeís personnel informed that your child is traveling alone?

  • Do they escort the child between flights?

  • Is there a separate and secure waiting area for your child?

  • Be sure to notify the airline of any special issues about your child such as medical conditions.

How else can I help prepare my child so they are safe and comfortable on the trip alone?

  • Taking time to discuss and role-play the whole flight process will be much more important if your child is traveling alone.

  • Read them some books with traveling themes. Theyíll be more interested and at ease with the whole process.

  • Make sure your child knows about the attendants, how they need to follow their instructions, as well as, being there in case they need help.

  • Tell them to keep their seatbelt on during the entire flight.

  • Make sure your child understands the whole process. Make sure they know who they are meeting, and where and when they are meeting them.

What will my child need to carry with them if they are traveling alone?

  • A valid ticket, identification and any other paperwork the airline requires.

  • Written contact names, phone numbers, and address at home.

  • Written contact names, phone number and address at their destination.

  • Complete written itineraries with flight numbers, flight times and gate information if available.

  • Include information on whom, when and where they are meeting at their destination.

  • Some cash.

  • A calling card or instructions on how to call collect.

  • On plane entertainment.

How can I make sure my child makes it safely on board the plane?

For security reasons, they probably wonít allow an un-ticketed passenger on board even if you are just going to get your child settled. You could request a flight attendant to come up to the gate so you can introduce them to the child. You also donít want to leave until a few minutes after the plane has left the ground in case the plane has a problem and ends up returning to the gate.

How can I find information on my childís destinationís airport so theyíll know where to go when they get there?

Go To:  US Airport Links & Foreign Links

This page contains web links to many major U.S. and foreign airports. Although, each airportís site is different many contain airport terminal layouts and features, parking information, flight delays and other items that could save you time and help make your visit a safe one. This links page also lists many airport codes that can be helpful when making Airline reservations so you and your luggage will be heading to the right airport.

THEME PARKS

What should I consider when planning a day at the Park?

  • Make a plan before you go and involve your children in the planning process.

  • Some of the Parks are so large you may not be able to see everything even if you have more than one day at the Park.

  • Some rides are so awesome you may want to try to ride them more than once.

  • Since you may have different ideas than your children about what will be the best rides, planning ahead will give you time to make compromises so everyone enjoys their time at the park.

  • Some rides have height restrictions and other health warnings for items such as bad backs or heart trouble.

  • Motion sickness and scare factors also need to be considered when planning your Park rides.

  • It is better to plan in advance that youíll have to skip a ride, than to build up a ride as a must see only to find a restriction that keeps some from going on the ride.

  • Remember that your children may find plenty of enjoyment in the simple pleasures the Park has to offer. Small ones may have lots in interest in the fountains, parades and the characters.

What should I plan if I donít think my party can make it for a whole day at the Park?

Plan an afternoon break and return in the evening when it will be probably be cooler and less crowded. Youíll all be rested up and can enjoy the parkís nighttime activities.

What can I do before I leave on vacation to help my child make it through a day at the Theme Park?

  • Make sure your children have well fitted supportive comfortable shoes to bring.

  • Buy the shoes in advance and give them time to break them in, so they are comfortable.

  • Bring a second pair for your children to switch into.

  • Begin an exercise program several weeks before you leave. Start your children on short walks around the neighborhood or at the mall if itís cold. This will help them prepare for all the walking at the Park.

What should we do as soon as we get inside the Park?

  • Check out the Parkís tip board as soon as you get inside the Park for information on parade routes, times, character appearances and other helpful information on rides such as wait times, hours open, scare factor warnings, height, age and health restrictions. This will provide extra, day specific information to help you make the most of your time there.

  • As soon as you have a map and are all still together, find a central meeting place for everyone in case you get separated. Remember some of the large easily identifiable landmarks cover large areas. Be specific about which side of the area you will meet on, such as on the side facing another landmark. Pick a landmark that everyone knows how to find, maybe something tall that can be seen throughout the Park.

How can I keep my child more comfortable at the Park?

  • Check to see about availability and cost of renting a stroller from the Park. Many have them available and even if your child hasnít used one in a while, remember that there will probably be much more walking and standing than in their usual schedule.

  • Cover your child in a strong sunscreen. Youíll be exposed to the sun much of the day. If you want a tan, build it slowly. A burn will ruin your whole trip.

  • Consider giving your child a fanny pack so they can carry some of their own items. You can also give them a small toy to give them something to play with while they are in line.

  • Go at your childís pace. Their little legs donít move as fast as yours and you donít want to tire them out too quickly.

  • You and your children will be tempted with tasty treats all day long, try to keep these to a minimum. Rich foods are harder to digest, and will stress the body even more with the walking and standing all day. Fill your hot and tired childís stomach with lots of ice cream, put them on a few rides, and youíll find out why itís a good idea to bring a second pair of shoes.

  • Take an afternoon break and allow everyone to cool off and rest. Mix some indoor air-conditioned and water rides in to cool everyone off. Donít save the water ride for the very last or youíll have a soggy ride home.

  • Give your child lots of water to drink throughout the day. It will be much more helpful for them to deal with the heat and stress of the day than sugar drinks.

  • Be careful not to push your children to ride on rides the say they are not ready for yet. It may only cause them to become even more cautious about trying the bigger rides.

How can the adults enjoy the big rides if they have an infant in their group?

Use the baby swap if you can. Certain Parks and rides allow one adult to wait outside the ride with the child while the other parent rides the ride. Then they switch, this way both adults get a chance to take advantage of the adult rides. Youíll want to check with the park employees at each ride to see if this is allowed and how it works for that particular ride.

How should we approach the Parkís characters?

  • Park characters in costume usually have very limited vision and can turn and knock down your child without ever seeing them. Guide your child so the character will see them.

  • Make sure to watch that your child is careful with the character. The characters donít make a lot of money and even a tight hug or a poke to get noticed can be painful to the character.

How can I help my child get the most out of meeting their favorite character?

  • The Parks provide opportunities for the picture of a lifetime, your little one standing next to their favorite furry character. Your child may rush the TV every time they see their furry friend, but it may be different in person. The big version of the furry friend can be scary for a small child.

  • Spend your time in line talking to you child about their furry friend and reassure them it is safe, especially if they see another child dragged off in tears.

  • If your child is shy, you might want to approach the character first and be the first to touch the character to help your child feel more secure.

What should I find out before I go to a restaurant?

  • Does the restaurant have a kidís eat free policy?

  • Does the restaurant have a kidís menu? If not, will the regular menu have items your child will enjoy?

  • Does the restaurant have booster seats or highchairs available?

How can I prepare my children for their first visit to a fancy restaurant?

  • Donít think you canít go to all those fancy restaurants just because you brought your kids. If your children havenít yet gotten used to fine restaurants, just prepare them.

  • Teach them how to order, sit and use the proper utensils.

  • Do a little role-playing to let them know what to expect. Switch roles and let them be the waiter.

  • Use games to teach them how to behave in a fine restaurant. Children love these kinds of games so it is a fun way for them to learn.

  • The games will also make it easier for them to remember how to act properly once at the restaurant. They can always remember how to play the game.

  • Bring something along to keep your child quietly occupied while you linger over a long meal.

How can I pick the best cruise for my children?

Just like with adults, you want to find the best match in a cruise for the kids. Some Cruise Lines specialize in programs for children to draw lots of families. Other lines are better for the adult crowd. Youíll have to do some research to find the best Cruise Line for your kids. Some Cruise Lines will have more for small children, while others will cover the full range of ages. Use the questions below as a guide to help you find the best cruise for your children.

  • Do the Cruise Lineís brochures and web pages look as if they were designed to attract families?

  • Do you see items on the shipís menu your child will enjoy eating?

  • Do they have a childrenís menu available at each meal?

  • What types of activities do they have planned for children?

  • Will the special services and events for children be available whenever I wish to cruise or are they only limited to a certain time of the year?

  • Does the ship have a pool just for children?

  • Will they show any movies or have special entertainment appropriate for children?

  • Will you visit any ports of call your children will find interesting?

  • Do they have any shore excursions designed to be fun for kids?

  • What types of discount programs are available for children?

  • How old can my children be and still be eligible for the childrenís discount?

  • Are discounts available for the 3rd and 4th passengers in my cabin?

  • Are cots or cribs available?

  • Can I book adjoining cabins?

  • What is the minimum age limit for a passenger?

  • Does the ship have a dedicated child care center or playroom?

  • Does the ship have a dedicated teen center?

What should I know about the shipís child care or teen center?

  • Are there any requirements on placing a child in the center, such as they must be potty trained, present certain vaccination certifications or meet certain age parameters?

  • Are childrenís areas supervised?

  • What is the caregiver to child ratio in the childrenís areas?

  • What qualifications and training does their childcare staff have to meet?

  • Are criminal and other background checks done on their staff?

  • Is the staff trained to perform CPR on children and infants?

  • Are they insured?

  • What security measures are used when children are picked up from the center?

  • What are the hours, cost and restrictions for these centers?

  • Do they have guardrails available on bunk beds?

  • Do they have babysitting services available?

  • What are the hours and costs for the babysitting service?

Can my whole family fit in one cabin?

That depends on how many there are in your family and how close you want to be. Most ships have two person cabins that can be booked with a 3rd and 4th person. But find out the square footage of the cabin, and see if you want to fit everyone into that space. Remember that youíll still only have one small bathroom.

Mommy, Iím hungry! What can I have to eat?

  • Check out the Cruise Lineís web page for menus.

  • Find out if the ship serves items that your child will want to eat.

  • See if the ship has a childís menu available at each meal?

  • Donít forget to pack plenty of formula if you are bringing an infant.

Which meal seating should I schedule?

You might want to book a meal seating close to the time they usually eat, but see what time the activities are scheduled for children so they will be available to take part in them. Late seating might limit the evening activities for your children.

What should I do if I am traveling with an infant?

  • Check with the Cruise Lineís minimum age requirements.

  • Pack the diapers and the formula.

  • Strollers can be difficult to use on the ship, but youíll still need them on shore excursions.

  • A baby pack will work the best on land and sea.

  • Check to see if rental cribs are available for the cabins.

What documentation will I need for my children?

  • They usually need the same type of documentation you are required to have. If you need a passport or visa, so will they.

  • If a child is traveling out of the country with only one of the childís parents, you may have to provide written permission from the other parent that the child may leave the country. Youíll probably need a notarized statement from the other parent, but youíll want to check with the Cruise Line for their policy on this matter.

How can I find out if my child will need a passport or visa for their trip?

Go To:  Embassy Links

This page contains links to many foreign countriesí Embassies and Consulate Offices located in the United States. Each Embassyís web site is different, but they all contain contact information and other helpful information for anyone planning on visiting their country.

travel.state.gov/foreignentryreqs.html

The U.S. State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairsí Foreign Entry Requirements web page. This site lists the entry requirements of foreign countries. It also includes the addresses and telephone numbers of foreign embassies and consulates in the United States. This web site is a good starting point, but since the information presented is subject to change, you should also check directly with the embassy or consulate of the country you a planning to visit.

www.state.gov/www/travel/consular_offices/fco_index.html

The U.S. State Departmentís Foreign Consular Offices web page. This site contains an updated listing of contact information for foreign countriesí consular offices in the United States.