Summer 2021 Travel: A Psychologist Shares 6 Tips for Traveling With Kids During an Evolving Global Pandemic by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist

Traveling With Kids
2 years ago

Summer 2021 Travel: A Psychologist Shares 6 Tips for Traveling With Kids During an Evolving Global Pandemic

For adults, traveling in an evolving-COVID world requires guts, patience and immense flexibility. For children, however, it can be outright scary. Traveling with kids, in general, is difficult  traveling during a pandemic is a whole new experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling with kids in 2021:

  • What doesn't bend breaks. Traveling during a pandemic means making plans A, B, C, D, E and F. With restrictions constantly changing and shifting, it's almost like pitching a tent in a raging river. It might be easier to actually walk slowly along the river bank sleeping under the stars. Make sure to keep a level head around your kids when plans shift so you can model flexibility in the face of adversity. Have a few “backup plans” and off ramps in case “the main event” doesn't happen.
  • Don’t forget your flood book. What this means is make sure you have activities (that don't require batteries) to keep the kids engaged if (God forbid) you run into delays in travel. This could be a canceled flight, a traffic jam on the highway or finding out your perfect “getaway cabin” doesn't actually have Wi-Fi. My kids have recently gotten into doing Cat's Cradle, which is a great way to pass time with a string. A deck of cards can always help to pass the time (providing you know a few games). Even Googling "old-fashioned games" and printing off the rules will help when you’re in a pinch and all you have minimal access to “stuff.” Sticks and stones were the original LEGO set don’t overthink it too much. I even created a kids activity book for travel that focuses on mental health. Print it off and have it ready for when you need it. (Here are more free printables!)
  • Extra is the new black. Since the pandemic, our house has been a bit “extra.” Extra TV, extra treats, extra self-care, extra emotional, extra over-it-all, etc. You get my point. If you are planning on traveling, don’t use this moment to “downsize.” Take a few extra masks, underwear, socks and patience. I would also have a pack of emergency mints/candies in your bag. Grab some surface disinfectant wipes as well as hand sanitizer.
  • Set the stage for success. Talk to your kids ahead of time about expectations. This could be as simple as mentally preparing (or literally making) different types of foods they may be exposed to and expected to eat. Or it could be preparing a child that the stuff we “always do” (water slides, amusement parks, tourist attractions) may not be open or available on this trip.
  • Check the rules daily. Whether you’re driving, flying, walking or running to your destination, the fact remains that you will more than likely “pass through” several different “regulation zones,” which means making sure you have the “right stuff" ready. My wife recently flew home to the UK to visit her family and this calm, organized and capable woman found the additional “tests” and requirements for travel overwhelming, exhausting and expensive.
  • Be open to the idea of canceling your plans. The airlines or government rules may make the choice for you, but if you are planning a trip, make sure you are open to the possibility of canceling. This way, you won’t book a trip that is “over the top” because you wouldn’t want to “waste” money on such an expensive trip. Also, new cases and variants seem to pop up seemingly overnight, which means, remain flexible. 

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Cat's Cradle $6 & Up
Playing Cards $4 & Up
LEGOs $7 & Up
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Elisa Schmitz
Great tips for traveling with kids during the ever-changing pandemic. Thank you for sharing your insights with us, Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist !
I'm all about the extras, too. Even if you don't think you need it, you need it.

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