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Tips for Travelling With Your Family

"He’s looking at me!"
"She’s kicking my seat!"
"Are we there yet?"
"I feel sick."

Ah, the family holiday. Whether traveling by car, boat, plane, train or even upside down roller coaster, my four children have kindly taught me to pre-plan (and in some cases prepare entire spreadsheets) to keep everyone entertained, happy, and feeling well. 

I’ve learned the hard way that the shortest car ride can seem like the longest trek if the kids are not happy. And if they’re happy, Mom and Dad are happy. But keep in mind that different types of travel require different preparation methods – remember, you can’t just stop the plane for a breath of fresh air.

When boating or sailing:

  • Start with short trips to determine the "sea legs" of the children.
  • Bring (and use!) the essentials: sunblock, sunglasses, a hat, drinking water
  • Motion sickness can also occur once you’re back on dry land - look for signs of nausea and take preventative measures.

When flying:

  • Read up on the rules regarding allowable carry-on items - specifically concerning liquids, gels and aerosols – when packing the basic onboard necessities.
  • For younger children, pack a change of clothes as well - spills and accidents do happen.
  • Pack some lollipops or chewing gum to make landings easier.
  • Consider bringing an atlas or map to show older children the route you're taking, or a book on your destination.
  • If your child is experiencing an upset stomach due to turbulence, consider giving them an antinauseant to keep their tummies settled, which will also aid in relaxation and sleep. Gravol offers a quick dissolve, chewable tablet as a convenient and portable dosage.

When driving:

  • Encourage them to enjoy the scenery or, in the case of kids, to play “I Spy” type games which will keep them focused visually outside the vehicle.
  • Those who have a track record of queasiness on the road should be seated up front.
  • Pack non-perishable snacks and juice boxes for quick treats or when going a long time in between meals.

If your trip includes action-filled days, especially those in an amusement park where the rides spin and fly and loop, ensure that nothing distracts the family fun by taking advantage of these tips:

Test out the smaller roller coasters first. Don't start on an empty, or an overly full stomach.

Take breaks with attractions such as mini-golf, movies, water parks, etc. to break up the potential for motion sickness or dizziness.

Plan your route to maximize the "must-see" rides first. Amusement parks require a lot of walking.

Each child is likely to have their own threshold for sitting still, playing "car games", eating snacks, and even motion sickness.  Start with small trips so you can establish what travel ammunition you might need before you venture forth.  And don't forget about that spreadsheet when you're trying to determine the crucial mini-van seating plan.


Kathy Buckworth’s latest book, “The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood” is available at bookstores everywhere.  Visit

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