I love to travel! I have been blessed with the opportunity to see different parts of the world throughout my lifetime.  Whether backpacking around Europe for the cultural experience or to work in a traditional hospital in Vietnam, I really love exploring new territory and learning new things.  I truly believe that this doesn’t have to change when you have children.  My 16 month old toddler wasn’t going to stop me from traveling to be with my sister when she had her baby.  And the fact that she lives in The Netherlands is just a bonus. 😉

No matter where you go or how you get there traveling can be a challenge for both parents and children combined.  You leave behind the comforts and routine of your home and this can really be stressful.  You have figured out how to make them comfortable and happy when at home, but when it comes to something new it may throw everyone out of balance.  Being that I recently experienced flying with my 16 month old son (solo!) fairly successfully I thought I would share my travel must have’s and health tips.

So away we go:

  1. Engage them in many different activities.  As a parent you know how much your child loves variety and perhaps you have also noticed that if you can provide enough variety for your child you can likely avoid most melt-downs.  Bring a few of their favorite toys and books and perhaps have a few new things in the mix to keep them stimulated.
  2. Try a natural calming formula.  There are so many great homeopathic and herbal combinations that encourage your child to feel relaxed or even encourage sleep.  These are safe, effective and well tolerated by most.  Be sure to work with an ND when selecting the right combination for your child.  If you have found homeopathics ineffective in the past it is likely due to it not being the best remedy for your child.  Homeopathics are based on similimum or essentially ‘like cures like’ so if the product or remedy selected is not the most appropriate for your child then it is likely going to be ineffective.  Take the guessing out of this by working with a qualified practitioner to help you be successful at giving your child exactly what they need.  Some products to consider are Rescue Remedy, Passifloriplex, Tiliacalm, Boiron Calm and Kids Relief Calm Syrup.
  3. Healthy foods & snacks.  Lets be honest, the packaged food served on the plane or offered at gas stations are not health promoting foods.  Pack delicious and nutritious snacks for the trip, perhaps even your child’s favorite foods to excite and distract them.  Some of the foods we brought were homemade cookies and muffins (gluten and dairy free), puffed cereals, corn chips, Lara bars, Baby Gourmet fruit and veggie packs, raisins, carrots and quinoa crackers.  I brought a lot of food which was something I thought was wise and then when we were hungry I didn’t have to compromise my nutritional beliefs.
  4. Support their immune system.  Protect your family by supporting their immune system.  Being in an airplane with recirculated air can make you more susceptible to infection.  If you are breastfeeding take echinacea before the flight or supplement your children with vitamin C, D and anti-microbial herbs to help them defend against infection.  A tip I heard from Bryce Wylde is to apply an ointment in the nasal passageway to trap the pathogens and prevent them from entering the body. I think this is a great idea!
  5. Nursing or bottle feeding with departure and landing.  The pressure changes can be quite painful for your child so have them nurse to help naturally adjust the  pressure in their ears  can be quite effective.  You can do this with a bottle to help them until they are old enough to handle it on their own.
  6. Beat the Jet lag.  Jet lag can really interfere with your holidays so it’s important to do what you can to support your body through this difficult time change challenge.  Try to plan many outdoor activities upon arrival as the daylight can help your body adjust.  Being barefoot and connected to the earth can also be quite beneficial (this is especially easy if it’s a beach destination).  Dehydration can make jet lag worse so be sure to hydrate appropriately before and during your flight.  Also avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will further dehydrate you.
  7. Pack extra.  This is more a mommy tip then a health tip, but I feel it is valuable.  Pack extra clothes, diapers, bottles, food, etc.  I find every time I travel I run out of clothes or my son wets through his diaper (which doesn’t happen otherwise) and I have been caught on a plane with soiled clothes with no other options.  It can be stressful and I think the way for parents to feel calm about the experience is to be prepared and when you think you have packed enough pack a little bit more.  Life experience has taught me that this is valuable advice.

Going on vacation is such an exciting thing, but I know the anxieties leading up to the flight or travel experience can be a bit daunting so I hope these tips help ease your mind and make your time on the plane a little less stressed or dare I say stress- free… 😉

Wishing you and your wee ones a comfortable travel experience!

In great health & wellness,

Dr. Michelle