Friday, August 1, 2014

Tips for smart, healthy holiday travel

Tips for smart, healthy holiday travel

–Buy a seat for the baby and toddler and bring their safety seats onboard. Yes, they can fly free until they are two, but everyone from the FAA to the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that young children are far safer — not to mention more comfortable — in a safety seat, especially when a flight hits turbulence. You’ll have a more comfortable flight too.

–Stash sandwiches, snacks and reusable water bottles that you can fill when you get through security. This way you not only feed the kids healthier en route but also save considerable money and time. You don’t want to have to run for the gate — as I’ve had to do — after being stuck in an interminable security line with no time to stop for food, while facing a three-hour flight with three kids, with only crushed Goldfish in your purse.

–Keep that hand sanitizer handy and use it often. “Parents should not be afraid to travel due to H1N1,” says Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a pediatrician and editor of www.pediatricsnow.com. We’ve just got to travel smarter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent guide for parents (www.flu.gov) and you’ll also find tips at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Website, www.aap.org.

“Cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow,” Dr. O’Keeffe says. And stay home if you are sick. Don’t go visit relatives who are sick either. Don’t share drinks or food, adds Dr. Chris Tolcher, a California pediatrician, medical school professor and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

–Just in case someone gets sick, bring along common over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, Dr. Tolcher suggests. Ask your pediatrician to recommend a physician in the area you’ll be visiting, particularly if any of your kids has a chronic condition. And consider travel insurance. According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, you’ll be covered if one of you gets sick away from home or if you have to cancel for H1N1 or other illnesses, as long as you have medical documentation.

–Make sure kids who are flying as unaccompanied minors know where they are going. (Yes, kids have been put on wrong flights.) Give them a cell phone and all of the phone numbers they might need. Teens need to know that if their flight is diverted or if they miss a connection, they’ve got to speak up and tell the gate agents and flight attendants they are alone. You don’t want them to get lost in the shuffle.

–Say thanks but no thanks to the relatives and opt for a hotel. Now through December 30, get a second night at half price as part of Omni Hotels new Spirits and Sprinkles deal.

There is one other bright spot. A new American Express survey reports that nearly 20 percent of those who traveled last year will be staying home. Maybe that will make it easier for the rest of us. And perhaps the airlines will offer a last-minute sale.

Pass the turkey.