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Traveling with Kids

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Collection maintained by: Diane Lin,
Last updated: 11/7/96
Copyright 1995, Diane Lin.  Use and copying of this information are
permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for
use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright
notice is included intact.
To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address
given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on
Traveling with Kids.  Please try to be as concise as possible, as
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file, so that interested readers may follow-up directly for more

For a list of other FAQ topics, tune in to or

This file is organized into four major topics:  

     Miscellaneous Travel Tips
	Overseas Travel with Toddler
     Airplane Travel
     Car Travel
     Train Travel
                   *** MISCELLANEOUS TRAVEL TIPS ***

Hi!  I belong to a mailing list made up of about 100 parents of children
born in 1994 and early 1995.  Recently I put together a summary of ideas for
surviving long car trips using some info from the, but most
from our group.  Our group is called OURKIDS.  If you feel that any of this
information is useful, please feel free to include it in the FAQ.


1.   Travel late at night or very early in the morning while they are still
     SLEEPING.  Pray that your child will sleep.

2.   Bring lots of SNACKS to keep them eating - this usually keeps
     them quiet.  Be careful that your child does not choke as it is
     pretty difficult to stop the car and get them out of the car seat
     quickly.  Try and bring along non-messy snacks. (ie. juice boxes,
     gold fish, rice cakes, cheerios, cheese, cut up fruit, teddy
     grahams, pretzel sticks, sliced grapes, raisins)

     Spread a large towel over the entire back seat to catch thrown

3.   Bring TOYS that your child has not seen before - something that
     will catch their eye.   One person had great success with a mini
     photo album of various family shots.  Another person suggested
     wrapping them up in pretty paper and letting the child tear the
     paper off.  Avoid toys that make noise that would irritate the poor
     driver ie. nothing with batteries or flashing lights.

     Another toy suggestion is a role of clear tape.   Apparently they
     love to tape themselves the seat, you etc. Also, a ball made of
     sticky tape.

     A Magna Doodle.

     A paper cup from McDonalds with a plastic lid and straw -
     apparently hours of entertainment 8-)

4.   Stop for a BREAK every 1.5 to 2 hours and let your child burn
     some steam running around.  Stop at rest areas where there will
     be room for your child to run around - restaurants may not allow
     for this (unless it's a McDonald's with a play area)  One ourkidder
     suggested avoiding stops because of the difficulty of getting ourkid
     back in the car seat!  Blow some bubbles at the rest stop.

5.   If the trip is very long, (ie. more than 6 hours) stop and stay the
     night somewhere - maybe at another ourkids' place :) or in a hotel
     with a swimming pool and playground that your child would enjoy.

6.   If possible, sit beside your child in the vehicle.

7.   Take extra bags for dirty diapers just in case there is no place to
     put them.  Plan on how to change the diaper in the car if there is
     no place convenient to do so.  Bring some water just in case the
     diaper is *really* messy and you need some extra water to clean it
     up.  Use a nose clip.  Change the diaper often because sitting on
     a wet diaper for long periods increases the chance of a diaper
     rash.  Use a good barrier cream.

8.   Point out passing vehicles (ie. big trucks)  or bridges to keep them
     focussed on something.

9.   Sing songs - finger play songs are a big hit with some (ie. Itsy
     Bitsy Spider)

10.  Books!  Small, easy to handle.  New ones that they haven't seen

11.  Stuffed animals and puppets.  One ourkidder has success playing
     with hand puppets from the front seat.

12.  Use car shades to keep the sun out of their eyes.  Sun glasses
     work too if your child will wear them.  Take sun screen and a hat.

13.  Pack tylenol for yourself   :)  

14.  If your car has a cassette or CD player, bring along familiar music.

15.  Bring your good humour and lots of energy.  Try smile.

16.  Don't go - stay home instead.  :)
17.  Avoid travelling during rush hour so you don't get "stuck" in traffic.

18.  Give them a little Benedryl to help them relax!

19.  For an older ourkid, take a potty just in case.

20.  Buy a van.

From: Ellen M. Stier (estier@polyslo.CalPoly.EDU)

"California With Kids" is the best book investment we've made since we
became a "family". It gives lots of general travel tips in the beginning
(what to pack, what to eat, schedules, hotels/motels, camping, flying,
public transportation, etc.), then goes into detailed descriptions on
all kinds of places in California -- small town rural to big city centers.
We visited San Diego for the first time last month, and this book was our
guide. Everything is written from the perspective of what your child(ren)
will think about it. Tells what restaurants are family-friendly. Invites
reader input (if you visit places in this book and find that what is
written is no longer true, write and tell us). When I first saw the book
I read the section on our part of the state (San Luis Obispo and the
central coast). I found out things I never knew about things right "next
door". It was really up-to-date (had the children's museum in it that
opened less than a year ago). I figured if it did that good of a job on
our little area, it would do a good job on others, too. We haven't been

There's so much I like about it, it's hard to remember it all, but one 
thing we found particularly useful was that it includes phone numbers, 
price ranges, and hours things are open.  It's published by Frommes. I 
guess they do a lot of travel guides. It's written by two moms.
From: Susan Gauch (

For those who are not opposed to the occasional use of drugs with
children, here are suggestions passed on to us (from doctors, by
the way).

1)  For older children (>1?) you can use pediatric (i.e. liquid)
dramamine to calm them.  This is available over-the-counter in
some drug stores in the States.  It is WIDELY available in
Canada under the brand name Gravol.  I found that it is more
effective on my daughter now she is 2.5, and that it will make
her somewhat more relaxed if she is wide awake, and make her
sleep if she is already tired (i.e. an hour past her regular
nap/bedtime).  It had no visible effect when she was 1.5.  

2)  For young children, our pediatrician said that benelyn cough 
syrup should make her drowsy.  Warning:  it has the opposite effect 
on some children, so try it at home one day before you
go on a trip.  This also had no effect on our daughter.

3)  When things get really serious, you can get, by prescription,
chloral hydrate (knock-out drops).  This tastes bitter, so use
it in orange juice.  This definitely works, but seems drastic.
We used this at one a.m. on a 1.5 year old that usually went to bed 
at 9. 
From: Judy Leedom Tyrer (

General travel tips:  

If the trip is a long one, purchase several new toys (we use one an hour for 
airplanes, but that would be prohibitive for long car drives) to take with 
you.  New toys are special and played with most when first purchased.

Be sure and take lots of snacks and drinks and spare changes of clothes
which are handy.  Anything you might need, you probably will need.

Long trips are easier at night so the children can sleep (it they will)
part of the time.
From:  Diane C. Lin (

Tip for Hotel Stay with Infant:

On a recent trip to the Bay Area with our 10-month old son, we
booked a hotel room with a crib.  Luckily, our room also had two
king-sized beds, because Dylan would not sleep in this unfamiliar
crib!  We ended up with Dylan sleeping with me in one bed while my
husband slept in the other bed.  (He can't ever sleep with Dylan in
the same bed--Dylan makes him too nervous.)  It worked out
wonderfully well for us, as Dylan and I like to cuddle and he gets
the reassurance of having mommy right next to him in a strange
place, and Gary got a good night's sleep!

We were also lucky enough to have a small refrigerator in our room,
so we always had some apple juice on hand, and some cheese for

[Note:  These were sent in response to a request for tips on
overseas travel with an 18 month old toddler.  The original
requestor's summary of her trip is at the end]

From: (Karen Guthrie)

Try some liquid dramamine before you go to see if it makes her sleepy.
Then after the new has worn off the trip give her a dose and put her
to sleep for a while.  If she is like mine, without it she will not
sleep hardly at all and you will end up with the most tired child 
you have ever seen.  Here liquid dramamine is an over the counter
drug.  We did this with Chelsea when she was 3.5yo because we had
VERY bad memories of a trip from LA California to the Bahamas when 
she was 17 months.  It worked like a charm.  She was still tired 
but nothing like she would have been.
I flew from Zurich to LA and back with Daniel who was 14 months at the
time, and we're going to LA again in a couple of weeks.  The flights
weren't bad--one was during the day, one overnight.  Just have enough
toys, a few familiar, a few new, snacks, juice, etc to last the time.
We also spent some time walking the aisles.  Its good that there are
two of you.  We had much more problems with jet lag.  Toddlers don't
understand jet lag and the need to overcome it, when they are wide 
awake, there is really nothing to do but play with them--even if it is
3 in the morning.  Daniel adjusted at the rate of about an hour a day.
A friend of mine who regularly flies back and forth between LA and
Paris with her small children gives them sleeping pills the first couple
of nights and claims it works well.  I'm probably going to try this
this time as well.  


Congratulations!  I hope it is fun.  My husband and I took our 17 month
old son to Paris for 12 days this past April.  Unfortunately, I can tell
you that the flight was not a whole lot of fun.  Going over we took a
red eye, going back we flew during the day.  The red eye worked out well,
but the return during the day was extremely difficult.  However, it is
survivable.  We did some things right and some wrong.

First, the things we did right.  We *insisted* on bulkhead seats at the
window and aisle in Paris (Orly).   Believe it or not, this was a huge
effort.  First they couldn't believe we wanted to be ticketed for a
window and aisle.  Then they tried to insist that we had to purchase a
ticket for my son.  Fortunately, we speak French well enough to get the
point across and were adament and offered to speak to a supervisor to
settle the issue.  Then when we left, we realized that they had not
ticketed us in the same row as going over (it was the same type of
plane and we had checked where the bulkhead was) and had to go back to
get bulkhead seats.  Most other parents were not so fortunate and most
of the bulkhead row was filled with elderly folks who could have cared
less while we had arrived three hours early to get the seats we wanted.

We brought a number of toys to play with, all wrapped individually, none
over $3.  This really helped.  I planned for a toy an hour and then over-
bought so that we could be sure to have enough.  This was good since some
things were duds and others were great.  Little cans of playdough were a
messy, but favorite choice.  I just tried not to think about the mess we
left (I hate to do this and have been known to pick up the floor in
restaurants after my son).  (I wrapped them in left over Hannukah paper
and he didn't know the difference at all.)  This was a net idea that helped.

We brought Cheerios in individual bowls and juice boxes and bananas.  These
are among my son's favorite foods, but were a mixed blessing.  Eating in
Paris with a young child is difficult.  Many restaurants don't allow kids
this young and restaurants don't usually open until 7 or 7:30 pm so my son
had had more than he liked of Cheerios, apple juice, bananas and any other
variation we could come up with in a small local market.  But since the
airplane food wasn't really acceptable for him, we made do just fine.
Needless to say our carry-on backpack was quite full.

I let him walk up and down the aisles, not stopping unless other adults
stopped him.  Few folks seemed to mind, and one of the stewards was
delighted with him and stopped to play whenever he had a chance.  One
older gentleman did approach me, look me in the eye, announced just this,
"He's too young," and stomped off.  I was already beyond my limits, so I
just ignored it and turned back to the steward who was there at the time
and shrugged.  I also let my son do things I wouldn't otherwise do, like
play with the small cans of juice left out for passengers by the bathrooms
during the flight.

We let him sleep on the floor in front of us on one of the airplane blankets
with a blanket over him.  He was comfortable and we just had to find room
for our feet.

Now some of the mistakes.  We hoped my son would sleep a lot on the return
flight and so got him up very early (5:30 am for a 10 am flight), fed him,
let him run all over the airport and otherwise amuse himself and use as
much energy as possible.  Big mistake.  He slept the same length as usual,
1 and 1/2 hours right after we boarded, woke up as lunch arrived, and then
was as cranky as he ever was through the flight.

We resorted to spanking him when our frustration and exhaustion got to us.
We have almost never resorted to this in the past (maybe a light tap on the
bottom once in a month or two).  He just became more difficult and unhappy
and then resented us for the treatment.

We hoped that the airplane would have more food that he could eat in our
lunches.  Except for the bread, there was almost nothing for him.

We didn't press hard for seat assignments to be given to us here.  We got
our tickets through a consolidator (for the first time) and didn't really
give this a lot of thought.  I'd bet that we could have gotten assignments
if we had worked hard at it.

Anyway, I certainly have rambled on more than long enough!  Although it was
difficult and I'm sure that I won't remember as much of the sights as I
would have if we'd done this trip B.K. (before Kyle), I will never forget
his face as he chased as many pigeons, dogs and babies as he saw throughout
Paris.  And we did some things we wouldn't have done without him.  The parks,
local as well as large attractions, were delightful!  We saw some incredible
parks just because whenever we had a minute we tried to hit one for him to
get some running around time in.  We did a lot of window shopping on the way
between things since he walked so slowly.  And we just generally did things
at a different pace in a different way than we would have done otherwise.
I'm not exactly sure that I'd do it again between a year and 18 months, but
I wouldn't give up the experience for anything!

subject: Overseas travel - report

We took our 18 m onth old daughter, Taisa, to France (one week in the
Alps and another on the coast in Provence) last month.  Things went
very well.  Here are some of the things we did (or lucked into) that
went well.

Basically, we had a great time, Taisa was healthy and happy the entire
two weeks, and even the plane travel went well.  We tried to get Taisa
to sleep on the plane (11 hrs) but were pretty much unsuccessful, even
having given her some childrens dramamine and some phenergen,
suggestions from reponders to my request and our pediatrician,
respectively.  However, Taisa was happy the entire time and made up
her sleep upon arrival, so it didn't really matter.  We had plenty of
new books and lots of paper and markers to draw with.  That and lots
of interaction with other people passed the time on the plane.  

It took her about 3 days to adjust to the 9-hr time change.  Two
nights were tough (she'd wake at 10:30 after sleeping a couple of
hours and want to play for a couple of hours).  We'd take her to bed
with us to try to sleep ourselves (I was working the first week).
After two nights of this, she was back to sleeping through the night
and regular nap time.  The hotels all had decent cribs and we wished
we had left the porta-crib at home because she happily slept in the
hotel cribs.  

The French love dogs and they are everywhere - Taisa, the dog-crazed
child, had a great time with them.  Everyone was very nice to her and
gave her chocolate all the time (the baby who had never had even a
cookie before! - oh well, when in Rome...) Of course, mama had to
confiscate some of that chocolate :-).  She loved the baby pools
(they're great - only about 6 inches of water so the little ones can
run around and, as in T's case, pretend to "shveem") as well as the

Taisa is very social and was disconcerted the first day when people
didn't respond to her 'hi!".  I told her that she needed to say
"bonjour" in France and soon she was off, saying bonjour, bonsoir,
merci, au revoir, ca va, beaucoup, and cinq (high-fives).  Incredible
how they soak up language at this age (she is already bi-lingual in
her current vocabulary, as I talk to her only in Ukrainian, perhaps
that helped her to pick up the French words easily).
Other things we did/had done:

* Didn't buy a seat but were lucky enough to get a free one each way
on the plane;

* Didn't take a car seat and let Taisa be held by one of us the small
amount of the time we were in cars (no idea whether we broke any laws
but I suspect not since the rental co (Hertz) had no seats available
for rent);  (we explained upon arrival that we were back home now and
she needed to be in a carseat at all times as well as not eating
chocolate - I think she wants to defect :-)

* Traveled by train in France, and bought a "Carte Kiwi", which is a
card that entitles those traveling with children to tremendous
discounts on the French trains (all systems);

* Got a suite as often as was available.  Had the crib in the bedroom
so that we could stay up and read and talk in the "salon" after she
went to bed.

Basically we were very lucky that she stayed healthy and had just
finished her last (bicuspid) teething bouts before we left.  But I'd
like to encourage anyone who's considering such a trip to go for it -
we were all much happier for having made the trip together.

Marta Kosarchyn

                              *** AIRPLANE TIPS ***
From: (Deb Galdes)

I came across an article in the May 1995 edition of BayAreaParent magazine
concerning car seats and airplanes.  Some of it goes against the common
thinking that children who use car seats in automobiles should also use car
seats on airplanes.  The article is by Susan Kerr.  Here are the major

  "Buckling your child up in a car or booster seat on board an airplane
may seem the safe thing to do, but it could be more dangerous than just
using the seat belt.
  This was one of several surprising results of simulated airplane impact
tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration utilizing six
categories of child restraint devices and four types of child-sized crash
test dummies.  What the experiments revealed is that children age 3 and up
can use regular seat belts and be offered the same level of protection
provided to adults.  Infants weighing less than 20 pounds should use
backward-facing car seats.   
  Unfortunately, no clearcut advice exists for those in-between
children -- babies and toddlers who typically use forward-facing car
seats or sit on an adult's lap on the plane.  Car seats provided less
than desirable protection, and seat belts were inadequate for any child
under age 3."

  "The biggest loser in the tests was booster seats.  The potential for
abdominal and head injury was severe enough for the FFA to say that any
child large enough for a booster seat is protected just as well by the
airplane seat belts.
  Forward-facing car seats got mixed reviews.  Many proved difficult to
install and adjust properly in the cramped aircraft setting."

  "Furthermore, because airline lap belts and seat backs operate at
different angles and positions than in cars, often a car seat cannot
operate properly."

  "And once installed, the forward-facing car seats performed poorly.
In tests of eight different forward-facing seat models, all resulted
in the dummy's head hitting the seat in front of it.
  Also unacceptable is the common practice of holding the child."

From: Susan Gauch (

1)  Fly on red-eyes for long trips.  Your child should sleep (see
above).   Be sure there is someone else to care for him/her
when s/he wakes the next day as you will be beat.

2)  Use car seats on planes.  Safety aside, children are used to
sitting still/sleeping in them so they put up with the confinement

3)  Board the plane at the last possible moment.  You may choose
to pre-board one person with the gear, but put the child on the
plane at the last possible moment.

4)  Bring lots of finger foods.

5)  Have babies nurse/drink a bottle for takeoff and landing.
Feed dry foods during the flight so the child will be thirstly
upon landing.

6)  Bring one or two new toys for long flights.

From: Steve Wincor (

We have gone on many trips over the years and have taken or sons with us.
The trips have included cruises, plane trips, and long car rides.  About two
years ago we went on a six week trip to Europe.  A friend of mine gave me
this Jet-Lag diet which really worked.  As an aside the only problem on the 
flight itself was our 4 yr old son wanting to sleep sideways on the airline
seats...a painful experience for us.  Other than that he was kept busy on
the plane with various toys.  The trip itself was great; we were worn out,
but he was going strong till we got back.  He did not speak any languages, but
made many friends (kids seem to speak a universal language!).  Here is the
Jet-Lag "diet".

Here is one version of the Jet-Lag diet.  The concept for most are the same.
I have also typed in part of the article about this diet.  You may want to
ask your pediatrician if it's OK for children.

This is a diet that has nothing to do with making you skinny; it makes you
timely!  This diet is based on a three day feast and fast cycle to help
reset the body's internal clock to a new time zone.

* THREE DAYS BEFORE DEPARTURE.  Eat heartily. Breakfast and lunch should be
  high in protein, dinner rich in carbohydrates.

* TWO DAYS BEFORE. Eat only 700 calories: juices, salads, light soups.

* ONE DAY BEFORE. Eat heartily.

* DEPARTURE DAY. Don't eat at all on the plane UNLESS the meal is cued
  to the time zone you are traveling to.  Don't drink alcoholic beverages.

The pattern of fast-feast-fast will lead your body to anticipate change. 
In particular, the lack of carbohydrates on day two seems to help the
body clock adjust to the new zone.

Excerpts from a Chicago Tribune article.  The Jet Lag diet was developed
by an Argonne National Labs scientist.  Years of research on circadian
rhythms, the body's internal clock have produced a method of avoiding
jet lag by changing meal times, food eaten and environmental influences, 
said Charles Ehret, an Argonne biologist.

The Army recently used his jet lag diet to keep troops alert after a 14hr
flight from Fort Bragg, NC to Egypt to participate in maneuvers.

(article talks listed above)

Feast days should consist of three full meals. Breakfast and luch should be
high in protein, which helps the body stay awake, dinner should be high in
carbohydrates, such as pasta, which stimulate sleep.

Fast day meals are low in carbohydrates and calories.  A typical meal would
be about 700 calories, such as a skimpy salad, thin soup, and half of a slice
of bread.  Coffee and other drinks containing caffeine should be consumed
only in the afternoon.

On the trip,, such as a nine hour flight from New York to Paris that crosses
six time zones, a traveler should time meals so that the last meal eaten on
the plane is appropriate to the most recent meal in the new time zone.

If the traveler arrives in Paris during the day, he should eat a high protein
breakfast or lunch to keep awake. If the traveler lands in the evening, he 
should have a high carbohydrate meal to induce sleep.

All the info contained in the article, and diet need to be followed to the
letter.  This really works.  I know many people that fly to Europe 
regularly and use this, and they say it works.  So good luck!

From:  Judy Leedom Tyrer <>

Get the bulkhead.  The extra leg room can be used for the child to play on
the floor or sleep (infants only).  The disadvantages come in that you don't
have a tray and if the child is on the floor, you have to curl your feet
up in your lap or lean them against the wall in front of you.  But by an
large I have always preferred the bulkhead to seats further back.

Preboard.  A lot of people will advise against this as it means you are on
the plane longer.  However, on a busy flight, without preboarding you may
not be able to put your baggage in the overhead directly above you, in which
case getting at the diaperbag, etc is much more difficult.  

Even though children under 2 don't need seats, I highly recommend buying a seat
for a mobile child (car seat safety issues aside).  My toddlers have never
been great at being held once they could walk.  But somehow sitting in their
own seat is not as confining as sitting in Mom's lap.

If possible, get a layover on long cross country flights.  Two 2 hour flights
with lots of time to run around and play in the airport (and, of course, buy
a new toy for the next leg of the trip) is far easier than one 4 hour flight.

Don't feed your child pickles for lunch before a flight (;-)
From: Susan Carr (

Couldn't remember who's keeping the file on this stuff, but somebody 
recently mentioned tape for airplane travel.  My husband just went
round trip portland to Rhode Island with David, who's 3 1/2.  The most
popular (infact, almost exclusively played with) toy was the "office
supplies".  This included a whole roll of scotch tape, a large pack of
colored post-its, stapler & lots of extra staples, paper punch, paper
clips, scissors, rubber bands, glue sticks, markers, crayons, a lined
tablet, and a pile of construction paper.  The airline crew probably
spent hours removing the resulting mess from the walls, but as people
were deboarding several complimented us on what a well-behaved child
David was on the plane!  He has continued to play with this stuff in
the month he's been home - it's still one of his favorite toys.
From:  Bob Lipman 

We (me, wife, and 2 kids (2 and 4 years old)) flew from
Palm Beach, FL to Washington, DC changing planes in Atlanta.
We bought 3 tickets and took the car seat on the plane
for the 4 year old.  The almost 2 year old sat on my lap.

In the past, when we traveled with only one infant the bulkhead
seats were OK.  It gave us room to put the infant on the floor,
however, now we don't request those seats.  To our horror, we
were assigned those seats on the Atlanta to Washington part of the
trip.  That presented several problems. (1) Getting the car seat
in was almost impossible.  The armrest for the bulkhead seats is
unmovable, making getting the car seat to fit very difficult.
(2) Once the car seat was in place, the tray table, which stows
in the fixed armrest, could not be used because of the car seat.
(3) The tray table at the bulkhead seats is lower than a regular
car seat, making eating with a child on my lap impossible.

Fortunately, Delta was able to switch the three of us with the
three people behind us who agreed to move.  In return, they got
free drink coupons. We didn't.  Oh, a fourth reason the bulkhead
seats wouldn't have worked out (4) No place to leave carry-on baggage
at your feet or at least very cramped.

Even with the non-bulkhead seats, with our carseat (Fisher-Price)
and the seat spacing, the traytable could not be used on that
particular flight.  We could use the tray table with the carseat
on the the legs of our flight.

For meals on the plane we had one regular meal, one kids meal
(hot dog or hamburger), and one fruit plate.  This gave a lot
of variety and kept everybody happy.  The best eating seating
arrangement was put the 2 year old in the car seat, put the
armrest up between my wife and I and squeeze the 4 year old
between us. She's small.  One meal one one tray table, two meals
(with trays turned 90 degrees) on the other tray table.  The only
thing I didn't have room for was my right arm.  It was up on top of
the seat or on my wife's shoulder.

Anybody else with any other airplane travel tips?

I must also put in a word for my kids, they were real troopers.
Between going to the airport, waiting to leave, changing planes
and waiting in Atlanta (the longest walk to change gates I've ever
taken), waiting for our luggage (it came out almost last), and taking
a taxi home was 8 hours.  Funny, in that time we could have driven
almost halfway home.
From:  Diane C. Lin (

Tips for Long Plane Trips with Infant:

1.  Buy a ticket for your baby, and bring a car seat on
board.  Not only is it safer (especially during rough
turbulence), but it's almost impossible to deal with a
squirming baby for long trips.  Our trip was 13 hours flight
time, and it wouldn't have been manageable without a car

2.  Put the car seat in the window position so that you can
use the other two seats to change diapers (assuming both
parents are traveling together).  This made things so much
easier than trying to figure out how to change a poopy
diaper in the cramped lavatory space.

3.  Order special meals for each leg of the journey.  Not
only will you get something of usually higher quality than
most, but you will get your food first!  That is a real plus
when you have a hungry child on your hands.

4.  Bring a bag full of new or seldom-seen toys/books for
entertainment.  We wrapped each toy/book so that there would
be at least a few seconds of entertainment in unwrapping the
toy.  We doled out a new toy/book whenever Dylan seemed to
get really restless.  

5.  Bring a thermometer and a full bottle of infant Tylenol
(or whatever you use) that is *not* expired.  We found out
the hard way that the bottle we normally keep in our diaper
bag had already expired.  
From: Ellen Stier (

Just returned from a brief trip from San Jose to Milwaukee, Wisconsin
and back, with our son, who turned two during the trip. He did great!

I followed (your?) advice about wrapping treats during the flights.
We wrapped snacks as well as new books, etc. It really helped break
it up. By our last (fifth) flight, he just wanted to unwrap things
and didn't care much what was in it. The wrapping still entertained
him, however.

The plane flight entertainment that was the most effective was:

I had taken about a dozen business cards and drawen primitive things
on the backs (triangles, squares, circles, shirt and pants, flowers,
etc. -- I'm no artist!). I put them in one zipper pocket of his new
fanny pack (also a hit). He ended up using the air sickness bag as a
new container and spending a long time transferring little items
(especially the cards) from his pack to the bag and back and forth.
He also colored on the cards, and enjoyed naming them and trying to
find the matches (I'd hand him a circle and he'd look through the
other cards for circles.) 
From: (Lynette Cooper)
Subject: Trip Report: 1 yr old on plane

   I flew cross-country with my 13 mo old daughter for the Thanksgiving
holiday.  I was VERY nervous, but everything turned out fine.

   We flew American, and I didn't buy a seat for her.  Nor did I carry
on a carseat.  I did reserve the bulkhead window seat for all flights
though.  The first leg of the journey was 2 hours, then a 1 hour layover
in Chicago, and 4-1/2 hours to Seattle.

   The only carry-on I had was Melissa's diaper bag (stuffed to the
max!).  I carried her because 1) she likes to be held, especially in
strange places, 2) I didn't want to fool with an umbrella stroller,
although it does fit overhead, and 3) she is small for her age; less
than 18 lbs.  I brought her crib blanket, teddy bear, and binky.  I thought
these would make her feel more inclined to sleep.  She did nap during
the 4-1/2 hour flights, once on the floor at my feet and once in my
lap.  I just laid our coats on the floor and put her blanket over her.
She did take-up some of the adjoining floor space, but my father was
next to me so it was ok.

   I brought plenty of juice (three 8 oz bottles) and enough food to
make a meal for her.  As we were taking off and landing I gave her some
crackers to make her thirsty and some juice to help her ears adjust
to the pressure.  She had no problem with the pressure change; probably
because she sucked on her bottle just at the right times.  It's next
to impossible to eat the meals they serve if you have no extra seat
for the kid.

   Of course I had diapers.  Only enough for the flights though.
Thank goodness didn't have to change a poopy diaper during the flight,
that would have been extremely difficult.  She pooped just before we
disembarked one flight!  I did the old diaper change while she stands
routine otherwise.

   I bought new toys before the trip, just little gadgety things at
the five and dime.  That is what she likes best.  I tried to get SMALL
things, so as not to take up too much room in the diaper bag.  She didn't
really play with the toys, she was much more interested in looking at
the person next to us and the people in the seat behind us.

   She was really very good and easy to handle.  She did get over tired
on the 4-1/2 hour flight home and when I tried to lay her on the floor
to sleep she just started screaming (my worst nightmare!) and continued
for about 3 minutes, then fell asleep in my arms.  But considering how
long the flight was, I don't think 3 mins bothered anyone too much:-).

   Not buying a ticket for her worked out very well at her age.
Only because 1) she's little enough to hold on my lap for a long period,
2) she would prefer to be held than to sit alone, 3) she hates being
cooped-up in her carseat for too long, 4) she was small enough to sleep
on the floor at the bulkhead, and 5) she's not really rambunctious.
I would however, buy a ticket for her if she were much bigger.
From: ( Jim Pieronek )

We have traveled by plane with our son at ages 6mo., 9mo., and 20mo.
He did great on all three trips!  The deal with babies on planes is
that they are free under age 2 as long as you hold them in your lap.
You have to pay for the seat if you want to have a reserved seat for
the car seat.  So here's what you do: 

1.  When you make your reservation tell them that you are traveling
    with an infant.  The bulkhead seats (up front, behind first class)
    that babies usually wind up in are not assigned until the day of
    checkin on most airlines, but if you tell them early they will have it
    in their record on the computer.  Bulkheads are really not
    necessary for an infant, they become important when your child gets to
    the age where smacking the head of the person in the seat ahead of
    them would be amusing.  On the other hand, there is a little more
    floor space in that row and you can use it for a changing area. 
    The other way to do a change is to flip up the arms on the seats -
    you will get more than enough room for an infant.

    If you make your reservations directly with the airline, call them
    at off-peak hours.  They will be under less pressure and will be
    able to spend lots of time answering your questions.  They are
    usually staffed 24 hours a day.  

2.  Request a flight that has low traffic - don't get on a flight out
    of Cleveland at 5PM on Friday; it will be packed.  The reason to stay
    off of a heavy flight will become apparent below.

3.  If there are two adults and one child traveling, request a window
    seat and an aisle seat in the same row with an empty seat in
    between.  Most airlines will do this for you.  That middle seat
    will be about the last one to be filled, because nobody wants to sit
    next to a potentially screaming baby in a packed row.

4.  Get to the airport good and early, (an hour or so) and ask the
    ticket agent how heavily the plane is loaded and find out if
    anyone was placed in the middle seat.  If the flight is light and
    no one is sitting in the middle seat you should have no trouble
    wandering on to the plane and using your car seat.  If someone does
    show up to claim the seat, you can pop the car seat in the overhead
    bin and hang on to junior.

5.  I fly in and out of Boston a lot.  The ticket counter people are
    always taking a lot of guff from the customers.  If you approach
    them pleasantly and politely and present your requests with an
    attitude of being happy with whatever you get, they will generally
    do their best to help you out - you could be the best customer
    that they will see all day.

6.  Since you mention that your child is 5 months old and doesn't take
    a bottle, I assume he is breastfed.  When you get on (preboard)
    have a stewardess get you a blanket.  My wife nursed our son on
    the plane with a blanket over him and no one was the wiser.  It
    might help at takeoff and landing.

7.  Be friendly with the people sitting around you.  Introduce
    yourself and introduce your child - most people like babies, some
    just don't know it.  If your child starts to cry and they have
    seen you to be a pleasant individual they will tend to be 
    sympathetic rather than annoyed.
From: ( Rolf Eberhardt )

I've returned from a US trip with my (now) 11 month old daughter.
I'd like to thank everyone for their helpful hints. Now my two cents
worth: When flying *always* take extra clothes for yourself along.
In the flight to the States my daughter waasn't feeling well so I had
her lying on my stomach. All of a sudden she descided to throw up...
(We had been seated in Business class because the plane was overbooked 
and you should have seen the faces of the businessmen around us when
they looked up from their PowerBooks :-)

The stewardess suggested we should be seated next to the emergency hatch
(on a 747) as there would be enough room to let the baby lie on the floor.
I can't recommend this seat as it's very drafty there.

Otherwise I can only recommend travelling with small kids. Americans
absolutely adore small children, they aren't too mobile yet (and they fly
and sleep for free ;-)
From: (L.E. Chirlian)

	We recently took a trip to West Virginia (Trenton - Pittsburgh
- Charlston) and back on US Air.  We took our small stroller (Aprica
Mini-go-Lightly which I believe has been replaced by the Citi-mini
which looks about the same) and were able to wheel it right down the
aisle of the plane to our seats.  We stored it in the overhead bin on
three of the four legs of our trip.

	On one leg of the trip the plane was packed so while we still
could wheel Libby onto the plane, the flight attendant took the
stroller and checked it.  It was waiting for us when we got off the
plane so it wasn't too much of a hassel.  The stroller was easy to
open and close (it has a one handed mechanism) and is very light so it
was easy to throw up into the overhead bins.  I was quite pleased
(note, I have no affiliation with Aprica).

	Having the stroller made it very convenient changing planes
and we also just used it for walks around the airport (we had a 2.5
hour layover on the way home :-().  We also had our car seat (infant
type with a carry handle), a diaper bag, a brief case, a carry on bag
and a pocketbook, not to mention a baby.  Whew, looking back I can't
believe we made it.  I don't know if US Air just has pleasant staff or
if it was the baby but everyone was very helpful.  People carried the
stroller up the stairs to the plane  (Trenton doesn't have jetways) so
we only had to carry Libby, the car seat and the rest (Jerry looked a
little like a pack mule).  

	I hope this information is helpful to anyone contemplating a
plane trip. 
From:  Betsy Hanes Perry (

Betsy's Golden Rules of Sane Air Travel with Toddlers:

1.  Don't leave home without a Travel Magna-Doodle.

2.  Order two kids' meals -- one for you!  My husband and I agreed
    that Ellen's USAIR kid's meal was MUCH more appetizing than
    our lunches.  (Macaroni & cheese, chicken fingers,
    grapes, and Oreos versus Mystery Stuffed Chicken,
    Greasy Rice, Tossable Salad, and Spice Cake.)
    Call the airline 24 hours in advance and tell them
    you want a special meal; they'll do the rest.

3.  Make sure the people who issue your boarding pass know you're
    travelling with an infant seat.  On one leg of our flight,
    we had to move, because the infant seat would have prevented
    use of the emergency exit in the row behind.  Fortunately,
    the row ahead was happy to swap with us.

4.  Make sure there's a complete change of clothes in the
    diaper bag.  (I know, you knew this anyway.)  
From: Vicki O'Day (

I haven't been reading for awhile, so I don't know if this
has been discussed recently.  But we had a reasonably good travel
experience with Emma (3 1/2) and Patrick (5 weeks) and I wanted to
pass on a couple of things.

My husband had the great idea of buying a disposable camera for
Emma to use.  It took her about 7-8 shots to become comfortable
with holding the camera so her fingers could easily press the
shutter, but once she got that down pat, she had a great time
with it.  She made a very personal trip record, and since it turned
out that we adults never got around to taking pictures, her photos
are all we have.  The trip was to Amsterdam, and we mostly have
pictures of trams, ducks and duck nests and other park animals,
and people riding bicycles.  This was a great success - it made
her more interested in her surroundings and less cranky when events
were moving slowly for her.

We travelled on KLM Royal Dutch Airline, and they were very
kid-friendly.  They provided a bassinet for Patrick in a bulkhead
seat, a kid-sized mat for Emma to use lying on the floor, good
kid meals, and lots of toys.

Interestingly, Patrick had no trouble adjusting to the time change
on the way to Amsterdam.  It seemed that at 5 1/2 weeks, the cue
of light/dark patterns was more important to him than his own
newly-developed night/day sleep habits.  But when he returned
at 7 weeks, habit was stronger than light, and it took 5-6 days
for him to get back to this time zone.  There was a 9-hour difference
between the two time zones.
From: dmusican@cvbnet.CV.COM (Diane Musicant x4140 5-2)
Subject: Summary - Flying with 19-month old
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1993 12:26:04 GMT

I would like to thank everyone who responded to my request about
air travel with a 19 month old. I tried to thanks everyone by
e-mail, but I know I missed a few people.

I've summarized here, and then I listed the actual e-mails I

For those who missed the original post, I am flying from Boston
to San Diego with my 19 mo old daughter. I would like to carry
on only a backpack with food, toys, and diapers. The question 
was what  toys to bring that are inexpensive, small, and will
occupy as much of my daughter's time as possible.


Diane Musicant


	Interactive books (with flaps or "feelies")
	Crayons and paper 
	Baby doll or teddy with clothes, bottle, spoon, etc
	Air sickness bags can be used to color on to make
		goodie bag or hand puppet.
	Wrap up surprises to open up throughout the trip
	Small toy cars
	Plastic figurines (animals and people)
	5 - 10 Duplo Blocks
	Roll of tape, magazine pictures, stick glue, child scissors
	Pics attached to cardboard
	Stacking containers filled with odds and ends
	Baby wipes to play cleanup
	Costume jewelry and mirror
	Dressup toys w/ zippers, buttons, hooks, etc
	Small puppets
	Wind up toys

******* ************************************

	Hi, Diane. Isabel's a month older than your daughter,
	and I'm trying to think what I'd take. Maybe:
	books, especially ones that have flaps and
	things to pull (the Spot books come in miiature
	versions now, and there are others)
	a smallish baby doll with clothes/diapers to change -
	Isabel's into doll stuff in a big way right now -
	oh also a toy bottle and little spoon to feed the doll

******* Joanne.Araki@Eng.Sun.COM ******************************

	I recall watching a morning show and this was suggested:
	Use those air sickness bags they have on the airplanes and have your
	daughter color on it and use it put her "goodies" in.
	Or make a hand puppet and color on a face.  Then the 2 of you could
	stage a puppet show for each other.  

	I've also heard of people wrapping up "surprises" for their kids to
	open throughout the trip.  Makes it kind of interesting.

******* ***************************************

	I flew from North Carolina to LA with my 21 month old one Xmas.
	I bought a bunch of cheap little toys (at our local Dolllar Store)
	like a couple of little books, some little toy cars, what ever
	looked iteresting.  I then proceeded to distribute these one
	at a time about every hour.  That way he had something new to
	play with.  He also loved listening to his tapes on my walkman.
	Other passengers would walk by and start laughing to see him
	sitting there plugged into a walkman.  Meal time took up about
	45 minutes an dhe had a great time eating off the tray.

******* heather@binky.ICS.UCI.EDU ******************************

	I flew from California to Texas last month with my 32 month old son 
	and my 16 month old daughter with me.  Our flight had two stops on the
	way, so we spent plenty of time on planes.  
	*brag on*
	The kids were great, extremely well behaved, 
	*brag off*
	but afterwards I was exhausted anyway!
	They didn't play much at all, really, just looked out the window and slept.  
	Except, of course, when we were on the ground during the stopovers, during
	which my daughter screamed.  Presumably she just wanted to get going, since
	as soon as the plane moved, she shut up.
	The crayons and travel etch-a-sketch were pretty much ignored, but the 
	new books were a hit (little 99 cent paperbacks).  I found something made 
	by slinky that they both enjoyed.  It was made of plastic and had lots of 
	little pieces shaped like macaroni (which my 16 month old did not know how
	to take apart).  It comes all in one piece, so if you don't take it apart,
	your daughter may not think to do it either.  It twists and bends into fun 
	shapes and cost about $2.  I wish I could remember what it was called!
	The other MAJOR favorite thing I took was food.  They snacked like
	they'd never been fed.  I got snacks they rarely have like cheese cracker/
	peanut butter sandwich things, and pepperidge farm goldfish.  
	I also got some flexible plastic figures (ariel, sebastian, the genie
	from aladdin, etc) which kept them entertained for a few minutes.
	They really liked being able to reach into the "goody bag" to select
	their own toys.  
	Oh, and they had absolutely no problems with their ears during any of
	the takeoffs/landings.  I guess they're old enough to correct for it
	without thinking.
******* *******************************
	I had good luck when my  daughters were young with stickers. 
	They are small and light, and
	you can let them stick them on a lot of things - your hands, 
	the seat, paper, etc.
******* ***********************************

  	A few things I remember being pretty successful at that age:

	  - 5-10 Duplo blocks.  Not really to make much with so much
	    as putting together and taking apart.
	  - Small rubber/plastic animals.  I think we had 4 cats and
	    a crocodile.  The cats fit in the crocodile's mouth, not
	    intentionally ;-)
	  - Interactive books like Pat the Bunny and Pat the Cat
	It's been quite a while, but mostly I remembered David wanting
	to watch the people, eat and sleep.  That was a 4 hour flight.

******* menon@Colorado.EDU *************************************

	When I travel with Ezra, I take:  a roll of scotch tape...he loves to
	unravel it, then uses it to stick pictures together...a bunch of
	pictures I have cut out of magazines that he can use to tape
	together...a stick of glue, just in case he doesn't want the tape...a
	pair of child's scissors....several tupperware/rubbermaid type bowls
	that fit inside eachother, filled with cheerios, crayons, other
	interesting odds and walkman cassette player and his
	favorite cassettes (a rare treat for him, but I take it away
	immediately if he messes around with the volume)...picture books...
	stickers...a teddy or doll and ME (his favorite toy;)
	When we get home, I load up the duffle bag and store it back in the
	closet. It is al ready to go the next time we're on our way.

******* ************************

	I like to take lots of books as that is my daughter's favorite.  
	Usually 3-4 work.  I can also give her a baby wipe and keep her 
	occupied for 20+ minutes "cleaning" the floor, wall, arm of the 
	seat.  A couple of old costume jewelry necklaces and a mirror will 
	also keep her entertained.  We are going to Hawaii over Thanksgiving 
	time and I figured that was the perfect time (she will be 23 months) 
	to teach her about dressing, so I am going to bring a piece of material
	with snaps, buttons, a zipper, hook and eye and velcro for her to 
	practice on. So far she's been a good flyer, but after 11 hours in a 
	plane overnight on the return from HI, we'll see!  Good luck.

******* **********************************************

	Hi-- around that age, we brought a tiny cloth puppet and small
	sesame St and mickey mouse character figurines and
	tiny plastic cars.  Someplace like Learning Express (don't know
	exactly where you live?) has a good selection.  I also got
	her a little plastic snoopy bag (ToysRUS I think has stuff like that)
	to put all her stuff into and she played with just dumping it out,
	picking up everything, etc.  She wasn't into the drawing toys
	like magna doodle yet then either btw; if your
	daughter isn't using them yet it may not be worth bringing.
	Also, mini boxes of raisins make nice toys as well as
	snacks, if you don't mind picking them up.

******* Annonymous ***************************************************

	i just went to england and back with a 17 month-old, and the 
	plane trips worked out wonderfully.  no crying whatsoever.  
	it was very easy.

	i suggest:

	  - nasal decongestant just in case the little chap develops 
	    a cold and his ears hurt.  i didn't need to this time 
	    because my baby has ear tubes now.

	  - pictures attached to cardboard with a see-through sticky plastic.
	    (laminating sheet?).  i did this with pictures of favourite 
	    toys and people and things and put the pictures on both sides.  
	    kept him busy for ages, and works in the car too.

	  - tiny pop-up books.  there's a lovely one called "dinner time" with 
	    animals in it.   for the night flight it was all i needed to 
	    keep my baby occupied.

	  - wind up toys.

	  - spot books with flaps and things behind the flaps.
From: (Beth Weiss)
Subject: Re: Traveling Tips Needed
Date: 4 Nov 1993 20:01:31 GMT (Teresa Creech) writes:

[lots of stuff I agreed with, so I hope she'll forgive me for having
a different opinion about one thing]

|> When the attendant calls for pre-boarding, they mean you, not all of
|> the business men crowded around the door waiting to get on.  You need
|> to get on the plane and settled so that you aren't blocking the aisle
|> when everyone else is getting on.

When I flew with Jordan to San Diego (just me and him, changed planes once
en route), we made a point of being the LAST ones on the place, rather than
the first.  I didn't want to deal with keeping him constrained while 
everyone else boarded, so we asked if we could be the last ones on.
The boarding-person said "sure", so we ran around the chairs while everyone
else boarded.  Then we boarded as the line was pretty much gone.  Since
we were on last, we didn't have to wait quite as long before he could get 
up and stand in the aisle.  

Obviously, YMMV, and this would only work if you travel light (all I had
was an umbrella stroller and his diaper bag).

BTW, the "last minute checking" of the stroller worked really well. I 
left it (tagged) at the door that goes down to the plane, and when I got
off the plane, it was waiting for me.  It was great--I had it in the
airport, but didn't have to maneuver it through the airplane aisle!  
(Some people have had less success with this--I was quite satisfied,

--Beth Weiss
From: (Mark Dolson)
Subject: Re: Traveling Tips Needed
Date: 7 Nov 1993 01:46:48 GMT

Beth Weiss ( wrote:

: When I flew with Jordan to San Diego (just me and him, changed planes once
: en route), we made a point of being the LAST ones on the place, rather than
: the first.

If you have two parents the ideal scenario is to have one parent
get on first with all the stuff, then have the other parent and 
child(ren) board at the end of the line.  We try to do this whenever

Laura Dolson
From: (Rupa K. Bose)
Subject: Re: Flying with 20-month-old - Help!
Date: 29 Nov 1993 17:09:02 GMT

In article <>, wrote:
 We're flying to grandma's house for
> the Christmas holiday.  This is three hours in the air and one plane change. 
> Any tip and tricks for keeping our daughter occupied, comfortable, and
> otherwise under control?  

A friend just told me what she did with her little son on a ten-hour
flight...she got ten little toys, wrapped them individually, and hid them
in her bag. She gave one to the baby to open every hour. It apparently
worked like a dream.

For the parent with the 4 and 6 year olds ... what worked for us on a 24
hour journey to India when our kids were that age was their own little bags
(backpacks would be fine) packed with games and toys that THEY WERE NOT
was a reader by them, so she got six books, and worked her way through
about five of them. My son wasn't, so I got him cheap electronic toys
(watch for noisy ones, though, even small sounds can drive fellow
passengers bananas if they go on ad infinitum). Little handheld electronic
games where the sound could be turned off were great. Also things like a
travel version of Magna doodle and etch-a-sketch. My son also liked various
monstrous plastic figures; if he has a couple fo them, he makes up stories
about them. Things to avoid are little, roly things that disappear and the
kids go hunting frantically and noisily for them all up and down the row.
It took me a couple of hours of shopping (actually, I just kept adding to
the pile any time I shopped the previous month) but it was well worth it. 

For sanity's sake - we made a rule that only one toy could be out of the
bag at a time, unless two were needed for the game. (this also prevents
instant boredom with the entire bagful.)

From: (Jennifer Gassman)
Subject: Re: Help - Flying to UK with 9 mo. old

When we fly, we always have
1) small hand puppets
2) small toy camera
3) receiver of small toy telephone
4) books
5) snacks
(I also bring matchbox cars for playing with at the airports.)

I had success with the puppets early on.  From age
1 to now (my daughter is 4), we get a lot of
use out of the camera (Let's take a picture of
the clouds!  Let's take a picture of the stewardess) and 
the camera (Let's call grandma and tell her we are on
the way!  Let's call Catherine and see if it is raining
at home!) And they are all good when the kid is stuck
in the car seat.  Books and snacks are necessities, of course.

When my daugher was about 13 months, I used the juice
and snacks too much and she vomited all over me at the
end of our first flight, just as we were deplaning.  
The stewardesses were helpful and thank heavens I was 
wearing a sweatshirt over a turtleneck, so putting the
sweatshirt in a plastic bag til I got to my destination
was okay.  You might want to consider dressing in layers...
Diane Dineer
Re: traveling with an active toddler

We just got back yesterday from a trip Miami-New York and back with Haley 
(23 mos). For the most part, she was an angel. The secrets were as follows:

1.  She had an ear infection and the doctor suggested giving her benedryl 
before the flight to make sure she was as clear as possible and wouldn't 
experience ear pain. This also made her drowsy. I would not have any 
qualms about a dose of benedryl even if she didn't have the ear 
infection. (I know I am going to get flamed!) It's not like you are 
flying every day and wantonly administering unnecessary drugs for your 
convenience. Having your child sleep for a good part of the flight can 
make the trip more comfortable for both of you.

2.  I bought a bunch of stuff and wrapped it up and put it in our 
carry-on bag, like stickers (Haley's a major sticker fanatic), play-doh, 
markers (washable, of course), coloring books, blank paper, etc. It made 
it a big treat when I gave her something and it provided necessary 
diversions when boredom set in.

3.  I brought an insulated bag with a mesh bag on top...sorry, I have no 
idea who made it or where I bought it...I think Toys R Us. Anyway, the 
insulated part stored her juice, yogurt, antibiotics she was on, gobble 
sticks and one of those blue ice things that keeps stuff cold. The mesh 
bag held all the goodies along with some normally forbidden treats such 
as gummy bears.

4.  If the flight isn't full and you can get seated next to an empty 
seat, bring your car seat aboard. It is safer for the child and can make 
it a much more comfortable flight for you. Our flight was full yesterday 
and sitting with a 27-pound sleeping child in my lap was not exactly 
comfortable, not to mention the fact that every move you make might wake 
the child.

On the four legs of our trip, Haley only really cried once and it as 
because she was really tired. After a few minutes, she found her thumb 
and was off to dreamland. 

I was amazed that I got *no* dirty looks from strangers when Haley was 
crying. Only concern and offers to help. A pleasant surprise. I have had 
more dirty looks in the grocery store when Haley has cried!

Diane (Mom to Haley b. 6/23/93 and ? due 1/8/96)

One of your contributors, Deb Galdes, submitted an item which provided
highlights of an alarming article about airplane safety which was printed
in her local magazine.  The article indicated that toddlers may not be
protected in a car seat due to the airplane seat construction and
arrangements.  Essentially, in a sudden stop (or crash) the child seat may
move sufficiently so that the child's head will hit the seat in front of

I followed up on this tip and obtained a copy of the study and the number
for the FAA subject matter expert on the topic.  The study  is
DOT/FAA/AM-94-19 by the FAA and the ccontact is John Petrakis, (202)
257-9937.  Petrakis informed me that there had been no further study on
this issue; however, he indicated that they tested under the worst-case
scenarios.  He also said that it would be virtually impossible to determine
in advance what plane and type of seat one would be flying on.  He said
that first class seats would probably be safe and bulkhead seats may also

Since these two alternatives were not an option for us, I pursued an
acceptable solution.  After consulting with various people, I determined
that we needed   to create a portable seat belt, which we could fasten
around the back of the car seat and the seatback to secure the seat if the
normal belt failed.  I located a leather/sadlery shop which had the
seatbelt material and buckle (like a giant shoe buckle).  He had a machine
which securely attached the buckle to the strap, and he used a heated tool
to melt small holes at 2-in. increments around the belt (since we did not
know in advance how long it should be to make it tight).  He only charged
us $20.  We used it on our flight and it worked like a charm.

Hope this is useful to some readers like us who can't bear to subject their
child to a risk we were not ourselves taking.

Thanks for providing this medium to share useful information.
From: Risa Bernstein (
Rec'd: November 5, 1996

I recently flew home with my 2 3/4 year old son, Colin, from Washington 
DC to Providence, RI.  Granted, the trip is only a little over an hour, 
and after reading everyone's articles about flying halfway around the 
world with their children, I'm in awe!  Anyway, this is actually the 4th 
time Colin has flown, but he's a year older now and I didn't know how 
he'd react to everything.  No problem - he was an angel both coming and 
going.  We boarded last (highly recommended).  I checked his car seat 
with the baggage because he's big enough to sit on a seat with a 
seatbelt, and also because the last time we flew and he sat *in* his car 
seat, he drove us crazy.  This time, I gave him the window seat and he 
stayed put the whole time both ways, no complaints.  I brought one new 
toy, a really neat pop-up book, plus another favorite book, and he read 
both most of the time.  I also brought juice and snacks (USAIR doesn't 
feed people on these short flights).  For some reason, only on this 
particular flight, my ears get very stopped up and *very* painful.  I 
was worried that Colin would have the same problem - but he didn't.  He 
pulled at his ears maybe once and I asked him if they were OK and he 
said yes.  No other comments - I was really amazed.  Coming back, I was 
totally deaf!  The worst (or best) part was when we landed in DC on the 
return - the plane couldn't taxi to the concourse and we sat for about 
an extra 1/2 hour on the runway.  Colin didn't even seem to notice - he 
just took turns laying down in my lap and sitting up and reading.  All 
in all, probably the best trip I've ever taken with him (although he did 
sit for a 5 hour trip down to NC this summer, also without complaint).  
We're flying back up in December and I can only hope and pray that that 
trip is as uneventful as this one was!  Thanks to everyone for all the 
great travel tips!


                                *** CAR TIPS ***

From: Steven List (

Recently, before a short car trip, I purchased a package at the supermarket:
a 3-D comic book and an audio tape of Rocketeer.  While I did it as a whim,
I am generally fond of books on tape and story tapes for kids.  My kids have
generally enjoyed them.  I was AMAZED at the success this combination had in
the car.  We took two or three short trips (<= 1 hour), and the kids asked to
listen to the tape over and over, and whoever had the book and the 3-D glasses
seemed particularly happy.  The kids are 6, 8, and 10.

Basically, I think story tapes are great in cars when all can listen, and
in other circumstances where headphones would be appropriate.  And when
travelling and staying in hotel rooms - bring along a tape player (a little
cheap one with built in speaker will do) and a few story tapes to settle 
the kids down at night - works great!
From: Jane Marcus (

We have 2 children, ages 1.5 and 3.5, and we have frequently gone on
day trips in addition to a couple of vacations by car.  Here are a
few things that we do to help everyone have a good time in the car:

-- Take food.  If we're on the road and the kids get hungry, we bring
   healthy snacks for them.  Since our youngest is now able to handle
   grapes, we found this to be the perfect snack since grapes don't
   make a mess, they help keep thirst under control, they can be stored
   for at least a day in the car without refrigeration, and are nutritious.
   Other snacks that are okay are cheerio's (good for babies who can't
   chew well), and raisins (although raisins can be sticky).  We also
   tend to take juice boxes in a cooler, although at this point we only 
   let the kids have these when we are stopped and out of the car.
-- Take music.  We have a supply of cassette tapes that we bring along
   on a trip.  Disney tapes with song classics are the kids' favorites,
   but they also like Raffi.
-- Take sunscreen, and perhaps hats and sunglasses, if your kids will
   wear these.  If the sun is strong and our kids are napping in the
   car, we hang a towel across the backseat window where the sun is
   coming in.  This helps them feel comfortable to nap and they don't
   get quite so sweaty in the summer.  
-- We use old crib blankets to cover the kids up in the car when they 
   are sleeping at night; these seem to be the perfect size for the car.
-- Take toys.  Our kids don't play much with toys in their carseats, but 
   many kids do.  We mostly get out the toys at a rest stop or when we 
   go into a restaurant.  In our diaper bag, we always carry some paper 
   and crayons; our youngest now is starting to like to color, but this 
   is mostly for our 3.5 year old.
-- Quite often when we travel, I put the contents of my purse into a
   backpack.  Then I have room to carry some important kid items in there
   so that I can always find them (important in cramped car conditions),
   and this frees my hands for other things when we are not in the car.
-- You may think about taking a potty for young kids.  Our 3.5 year old 
   is accustomed to using a regular toilet sometimes, but generally feels 
   more comfortable using her potty when we're on the road, especially 
   if the only place to go is an outhouse.  And a potty is great to prevent
   an accident, which is a semi-disaster in the car.  We have found that 
   we prefer to lug the potty around rather than put her down on dirty 
   toilet seats anyways.  But it is somewhat of a pain.  We put the potty 
   in a big plastic bag and take a separate plastic bag with toilet paper.  
   Then we get the fun job of cleaning the potty after each use, so we 
   bring lots of wipes...

I'm sure that there are plenty of other things that help, but these are
the most obvious ones that come to mind.
From:  G. Levine (

Submission for the Car Travel category, written by my wife. Mary

In response to Jane Marcus' suggestion:

Not wanting to insult anyone's intelligence, here's a warning
about grapes--they are one of the foods most frequently
associated with choking in children under six.  (Some others are
hot dogs, nuts, generally anything roundish and firm).  I may be
somewhat paranoid about this since I nearly lost my younger son
at the age of fifteen months when he swallowed a piece of a Lego
set, but we always cut hot dogs and grapes lengthwise in half,
and I would especially tend to do this ina moving car.  Anything
firm and chunky can be a hazard, for instance if the car hits a
bump while the child is eating.
From: Judy Leedom Tyrer (

Okay, this is terribly decadent, but we have a small portable VCR (part of
one of those old cameras with the VCR you carry on your shoulder - they're
so outmoded now because of camcorders you can pick a used on up cheap) and
a small portable TV.  We got a twin adapter cable and plug both into the
cigarette lighter and bring our video tapes with us.  This made a 9 hour car 
trip VERY smooth.  Of course, the driver went nuts ;-)

Stop often (every 2 hours) and give the children a chance to run around if
they are restless (obviously this isn't important if the kids are asleep
or happily involved in a movie).

Have a cooler with food and drinks easily accesible.

Buy a van.
From: Kate Gregory (

First, music. A 4 year old can listen on headphones, or the whole
car can listen and sing along. You know your friends. Standard kids
stuff, or perhaps a cause you like. If it's folky, a copy of Rise
up Singing goes too: it will have the words to most of the songs. Heck,
it's a pretty good stand alone item because of all the campfire songs
etc in it.

Nothing that beeps or flashes or does anything that the parents can't
figure out when to expect: a lot of battery operated games are
just *awful* if they are played behind you.

How about something with many parts (say a collection of miniatures
or a set of something) and you wrap each part separately, one per day.
Each day a new one is opened and it is exciting in its own right, but
after two or three days the kid realizes a set is being formed...
For example if the kid is "into" a toy that comes with mucho accessories,
the main toy the first day and accessories each of the next, with the big
glamour one saved for the end. Maybe even one in the morning and one
in the afternoon?

If you see them often enough to know what sort of gadgets they own,
you could pick up things they don't have but would like: a roll-up
sunshade for the kid's window; a juice-box-holder with rigid sides
so the kid doesn't squirt juice all over the car; a tray that attaches
to the window (works only if the back windows are roll-type windows
ie not in a minivan and maybe not in a hatchback); that sort of
practical staying-sane-in-the-car stuff.

If you know their route, perhaps a "book" of pictures for the child,
handmade by cut-and-paste from magazines and/or drawing. Skyscrapers,
cows in the field, mountains, that sort of thing. One or two pages
per day, so the kid can see "how much farther". Four year olds differ
but my younger sisters would both have grasped the concept. Perhaps
a companion blank book and a glue stick to fill a half an hour or 
so each day pasting in souvenir postcards, ticket stubs, interesting
feather found in the parking lot etc and creating an instant record of
a memorable trip.

Perhaps some of the stuff should be labelled with dates (open on Day
3) and some with locations (open in St Louis), again with the route
in mind, to get the kid involved in the process and see they are
getting there.

Gosh, I surprised myself. I'm going to a keep a copy of this
for when my almost two year old is bigger. Our favourite canoeing destination
is 17 hours from here and we've stopped going: maybe next year we'll start
From: Chris Himes <>
Subject: A successful long car ride (14.5 mos)

We just returned from a trip to the Grandparents for Thanksgiving.  We
actually had a very pleasant 10 hour car ride with Doug, so I thought I
would pass along a few things that worked (although I'm sure NONE of these
will work for us on the next trip :-().

1.  Doug's favorite toy in the car was a paper cup from McDonalds with a
plastic lid and straw.  He spent at least 1/2 hour putting the straw in and
pulling it out, taking the lid off and putting it on, etc.  We were sure to
get another one at the next stop!

2.  We had brought a small tote bag with some books and small toys.
Actually, doug enjoyed taking them out and handing them to me more than
looking at them or playing with them.  I think the next time I will bring a
few bags with all kinds of stuff--jar lids, film containers, plastic spoons,

3.  My sister gave him a circus train toy that makes animal and train noises
when you push buttons.  This was a big hit, partly since it was new and
partly since it made animal noises.  (What is it with kids and animal
noises, anyway?)

4.  Tapes--Raffi, Sharon, Lois, and Bram, and Doug's favorite "Songs for 1's
and 2's".  This tape drives me crazy, although my husband doesn't mind it.
The artist is, I think, Tom Glazer.  It has several songs about everyday
things in baby's life.  It is definitely geared to the interests of a 1 year
old, with short simple songs and melodies.

5.  Goldfish crackers.  Another thing for Doug to take out and put in, and
sometimes eat or offer to Mom and Dad.  Can you tell we are at the height of
the "in and out" stage!!!

Well, nothing very original, but the trip went very well (Doug did take a 3
hr nap, too) and we were very apprehensive before starting out.  
From: minett@seismo.CSS.GOV (Debbie Minett)

Driving 15 hours (each way!) with an 11 month old 

Here are some tips that might be useful to someone planning
a long car trip with a baby.

1) If possible, try to travel during the baby's longest
sleep cycle.  We left DC at 7:00pm and arrived at our
destination at 10am.  This worked really well for us since
Emily slept for most of the trip.  We also didn't have to
worry about how we were going to feed her a meal in the
car and we didn't have to stop to feed ourselves either.

2) Spread a large towel over the entire back seat to catch
thrown cookies/crackers/bottles.

3) We got a toy that attaches to the car seat that has
a steering wheel, horn, mirrors that kept Emily busy and
happy for quite a while. I also bought a few new small
toys but her favorite "toy" ended up being the map!! |-0

4) Bring a water proof pad to lay the baby on when changing
diapers.  Change the diaper often!!!!  Even though we changed
her diaper every few hours, Emily still developed a terrible
diaper rash so you may want to stock up on Desitin/Balmex stuff.

5) Bring a jug of water - it comes in handy for clean ups
and making bottles on the road.

6)  Bring finger foods for the baby (we brought crackers,
cookies and cheerios)

7) Be sure to have clothes handy in the car that are appropriate
for the weather you're heading for!  We went from cold DC to
a very unusually COLD Florida so I didn't need the sunsuit I 
had ready for her - but if it had been hot I would have hated
having to unpack the trunk to find it!

8) Bring some plastic bags to put dirty diapers in even if
you're just going to throw the diaper in a trash can at a gas
station - you'd be surprised what dirty looks you can get
from gas station attendants!

Happy motoring!!
From: (Beth Vail Jones)
Date: 5 May 93 15:13:50 GMT

We just returned from a 2-week car trip from Colorado Springs to Phoenix,
with extended stops at Canyon de Chelly and Grand Canyon.  This was our
first long car trip with our kids (ages 2 and 4), and it went well overall.

First, the Durango tip:  There's a wonderful playground at the edge of
  town, with a huge play-gym setup (3 slides, a bridge, stairs, chain-ladders,
  etc.).  There is also an old train engine nearby to look at, although you
  can't touch it.  My kids LOVED this playground; we went there 3 times on
  our trip and they cried every time we had to leave.  If you're going to
  Durango, Colorado this summer with kids, find the Visitors Center and
  check out the playground.

Take LOTS of different kids' music.
  We listened to kids' tapes nearly the whole time, so it was great to have
  some that were especially enjoyable by all (my husband generally
  dislikes kids' songs).  Our favorite tapes:
    Raffi, Singable Songs for the Very Young :  The song Willoughby Wallaby
      helped us out tremendously when we were hiking out of Canyon de Chelly
      and my 4-year-old didn't want to hike any more; we sang Willoughby-
      Wallaby-everything all the way up!  Spider On the Floor entertained
      my 2-year-old in restaurants; he even sang it himself, looking at the
      floor as if there WERE a spider :-).
    Kids' Songs, and
    Kids' Song Jubilee, sung by Nancy Cassidy : Her style isn't my favorite,
      but these tapes have some charming songs (like, I Wanna Be a Dog, and
      Mama's Soup Surprise) that even adults find hilarious.
    Disney Children's Favorites, Vol 1-4 : We've had these for a while.  I like
      the singer's voice and the song selection is great.  We've heard them
      about a hundred times, but fortunately we still enjoy them.
  We had several others, but these were our favorites.  I specifically DON'T
  care for the Wee Sing tapes we have.  We also had a few tapes of adult-type
  music, which was barely tolerated by the kids (don't ask me how they can
  tell the difference, especially with Joan Baez or Linda Ronstadt, but the
  kids knew that these were not songs they wanted to hear).  Ben did enjoy
  hearing Jean-Michel Jarre's "Rendezvous" while he napped, though. :-)

Take LOTS of small toys for in-car entertainment.
  For toys in the car, we had a small box with about 10-15 small toys,
  like rattles, small boats, cars, etc.  We also had a few books.  The
  toys were cycled MANY times, and we should have taken at least twice as
  many, maybe in two separate boxes so we could bring out a "fresh" set
  every few hours.  The Golden Book Sound books (or whatever they're
  called) provided many hours of entertainment for both kids.  These are
  large books with an electronic panel that has a column of picture-coded
  "buttons" to activate a corresponding sound.  I was amazed how much the
  kids enjoyed these.  I took along a small Etch-A-Sketch and a
  ViewMaster; when we brought these out on the third day, they amused the
  kids for about a half-hour maximum.  Neither could figure out the
  Etch-A-Sketch, and both had seen ViewMasters at daycare.

Take several toys for in-motel entertainment.
  We were woefully under-stocked on toys to play with OUT of the car, like
  at motels and at my parents' house.  Next time I'd take 3 or 4 sturdy
  toys for each child.

  We did take a few of their favorite videos.  They enjoyed watching them
  at my parents' house, and in Montrose, CO, we found a place to rent a
  VCR for $3, so they watched a couple of videos there.  Their vacation
  was FILLED with physical activity, so it was nice (for everyone) to have
  a little quiet time.

Don't drive too many hours in a day.  When you find your threshold, don't
push it.  Stop frequently.
  We never drove more than about 300 miles in a day - usually spending about
  5-6 hours buckled in per day.  This was about as much as anyone could stand.
  We made frequent stops to stretch and play.  I think we hit nearly every
  McDonald's and Burger King that had a playground (and we have about a dozen
  Kid'd Meal toys to show for it, too).  We also stopped at Meteor Crater
  (enjoyed by all), and saw dinosaur tracks (near Mexican Water, AZ, maybe?).

If you have specific questions about the places we went, send me email.
Beth Jones, mom to Ben (4/22/89) and Andy (4/3/91)
From: (Carolyn Peterson)
Subject: Re: car activities for 4-year-old
Date: 26 May 1994 16:50:25 -0700

We drove 3400 miles with our 4 and 6 year olds last month.  Activities
that helped us:

1.  A walkman for each child and a stack of cassette tapes.  They can
listen to Sesame Street, Barney, Wee Sing, Raffie, story tapes, etc.
They don't have to agree about what they want to listen to.  You don't
have to listen to it, either.  A friend loaned us 2 dozen tapes.  We had
some to start with.  More came from a neighbor's garage sale.

2.  Alphabet game

3.  20 questions.  The 4 year old tended to think of the same things
each time she was answering questions, but she still enjoyed it.

4.  Watch cars coming in the other direction.  Each person has a
different type of vehicle to look for.  They can be sorted by colors,
number of doors, type of vehicle, etc.  Just calling out yours and not
bothering to count can keep it from getting competitive.  
Another version of this is kind of like black-out bingo.  Prepare equal
size grids for several colors of cars and x out a square every time one
is spotted.  See which one fills up first.

5.  Lap desk, crayons and a coloring book.  Our kids have motion
sickness in the mornings, but not the afternoons, so this was an
afternoon activity.

6.  Chewable Dramamine helped with motion sickness and added a morning
nap to their schedules.

7.  We had a map of the US for the kids to mark where we had travelled
each time we stopped for meals, which seemed to help them understand how
much farther we had to go.

The longest days we drove were about 600 miles.  We had snacks in the
car.  Lunches were at fast food places with playgrounds.  For
the last 350 miles, we paid them 5 cents an hour not to fight :-)
Thanks so much to all who responded.  As promised, here is a summary of the
suggestions I received for travel with my 2 year old daughter:

1)  Most commonly mentioned was bringing music tapes along.  We don't have a
    tape deck but we do have a portable tape player and will bring it along.
    Some suggested Walkman's with headphones which may work for some 2 year
    olds (and save parent's sanity as they don't have to listen to the
    tapes over and over).
    A good suggestion was to borrow the tapes from the library rather than
    buy one to save on expense.  Possibly you could also trade tapes with
    a friend's family for the course of your trip.  

    Tape recommendations were:  Tom Chapin's Moonboat.  Trout Fishing in
    America's Big Trouble.  Sharon, Lois and Bram's Mainly Mother Goose.
    Raffi's Singable Songs.  Marlo Thomas's Free to Be a Family.

    I'll add:  Michael Martin Muphy's Cowboy Songs (Emma LOVES side one
    in particular) and any Ray Steven's tape (they never fail to crack us
    up :)   

    Kids books that come with tapes were also suggested.      

2)  Advice on places to stop:
    Most commonly mentioned were fast food restaurants with play places
    that are OPEN.  (never stop at one unless you can see ahead of time that
    it is indeed open!).  Ball pits were said to be especially effective
    in wearing out toddlers.

    And added advantage of fast food places is that they usually have kid's
    meals that come with toys...any new toy is a good toy in a toddler's
    mind :)

    If you stop at a rest area here are some activities to be done in nice
    weather and/or parts of the country that don't have cold weather:

    Bubble fluid (make your own if you wish by adding one cup Dawn dishwashing
    liquid and one tsp. of glycerin to one gallon of water.  Blow bubbles 
    and have toddlers chase and stomp on them.  Take a plastic berry basket
    to make tons of tiny bubbles.

    Soccer ball for kicking around.
    Frisbees to chase.

3)  Toys for the car:

    Nominated the most times:  Magna-Doodle, Travel Magna-Doodle (smaller
    size) and Etch-a-Sketch.  I am planning to get Emma one.

    Other suggestions:
    Mr. Potato Head, toy train engine, matchbox cars, books that make noise
    or play songs (Emma has two that are _great_ for after dark because they
    light up when pressed), a roll of Scotch tape, child-safe scissors and
    paper, finger puppets (bought or made), paper bag puppets, a lightweight
    blanket to attach to the back of the front seat and over the car seat
    to make a "tent", a hard-backed pad of paper for easier drawing, washable
    crayons or markers or pens, a book of family photos, a book with toddler
    finger-plays/rhymes in it (Emma loves "itsy bitsy spider" right now) to
    perform on the road, a feather to tickle with :)  Some make up word games,
    rhymes, etc.
    One person suggested 2 new small (under $3) toys per day of road travel
    to keep their attention.  

    Someone said their friend told them you could draw with dry-erase markers
    on car windows and they'd erase right off.  TEST this before you let the
    kids have at it :)  With a two year old I wouldn't let her use dry-erase
    markers because they are toxic and probably hard to get out of clothing.

    Colorforms on the windows got mixed reviews.  Some said they were great
    and some said the child couldn't reach them. 

    If your child has an "open" car seat (one without a tray in front) try
    using one of those lap-top desks with the bean bag bottom for playing/
    drawing activities.
    Make a "map" of the places you are going.  Depending on the age of the
    child you could have them look for things as basic as road signs or
    cows in the field to land-marks you're going to pass.  As kids my 
    brother and I had a Bing-o game that used various common things found
    along the highways and the first one to spot it got to mark it on
    his/her card (things like railroad tracks, a barn, a sign with the letter
    Z in it, etc.)

4) Snacks: 

   Generally the basic toddler variety of snacks such as raisins, cereals,
   crackers, cookies, fruit cut in small pieces, juices.  We usually buy
   a small container of milk at convenience stores for road trips rather than
   trying to carry milk in a cooler.  Someone suggested serving meals in
   the car as it takes up time but others said it was best to stop to eat
   so the kids could also run around. 
5)  About the best time to travel:

   Many suggested traveling after dark so the child would be asleep most or
   all of the time.  In our case this is a little difficult as I'm night-
   blind and my husband would have to do all the driving but we may consider
   leaving in late afternoon and reduce the amount of daylight travel.

   Some also suggested having your child nap a shorter time the day you
   leave or not at all so s/he will sleep longer once in the car.  

Hope this is helpful to all of you who might be traveling with little
ones!  I have gotten lots of ideas from this and hope you do too!
Subject: Re: ideas for long car trip w/kids?
Date: 9 Nov 1995 22:58:45 -0500

One brand of crayons (Rose Art, I think.....not Crayola) come in a 
white plastic package with some type of character logo on it (they come 
in several different character logos.......our package is Beauty and the 
Beast) and the package splits in half and *holds* each individual crayon 
in the package.  (So you don't hear, "MOM!  Junior just dumped the 
crayons on the floor........make him pick them up....." as often.

One other recommendation is to straighten up the backseat at each 
reststop.  That way you will nip certain problems in the can 
pick up the lost crayons that would melt on the carpet/upholstry, pick up 
the slow spilling drinks and retrieve the lost items regularly.

                               *** TRAIN TIPS ***

The summary that follows is from a person who was soliciting
advice on the topic, Andrew Lacher (
He then includes the responses he received after his posted
In general, most people seemed to feel that train travel and kids mix very
well.  Most indicate that paying the extra money for a sleeper car is worth
it.  For our purposes we have decided to fly.  The cost for the train was
close to the price of four plane tickets.  I think that in most cases a
sleeper car on the train would cost more then a plan ticket.  A train ride
could be a lot of fun however.

The beds on the train (in the sleeper car) are not wide enough (2-3 feet)
for an adult and one child.  They are made for one adult.  The private rooms
are small (made for two adults) and there are no rails on the beds.  We
thought that a moving train was no place to sleep in a narrow bed with a
small child.  We will look into the train again when we can get by with
going coach.  We would have to be on the train for two nights, perhaps our
decision would be different if it was just one night.

P.S.  Not all stations have checked baggage.  The station closes to us
(Mananas, VA) does not.  This also influence our decision.

Below are some of the response I have received.  Unfortunately I have all
ready erased a few but the were similar to the ones below.

From: Tiffany Frazier (tiff@CS.UCLA.EDU)

I've traveled from LA to Ann Arbor, MI 3 times.  (48 hour, 2 nights trip)
The third time was a couple weeks ago :-).  The 2nd time we had 1 kid -
6 weeks old, the 3rd - 1 kid 2 years old.  This last time was very nice -
much better than previous trips.

Coach will be hell with 2 kids and only 2 tickets.  Coach wouldn't be
much more pleasant with more tickets.  We went 1-way with 1 6-wk old -
with 2 coach seats.  We bought an upgrade for the trip back.  It is _very_
hard to sleep unless you are the sort of person who can sleep anywhere.

I'm only really experienced with the SuperLiners (West Coast-Chicago
trains) - which are two-story cars.  We always road coach for the 6 hour
trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor.  All following info applies to those trains.
I highly recommend a private room - with 2 kids I would almost "insist"
that you need the "deluxe" room.  The _economy_ sleeper room has
two seats facing each other that fold down into a single bed.  It
also has an upper bunk with a "catch net".  When the beds are down there
is barely enough room for one person to sort-of stand (not really) in
the rest of the room.  You probably would not stay there during the
day.  My restless 2 year old would make sleep in such a room impossible -
with two kids you'd have to sleep them both together on bottom bed
(but it is possible to fall off onto the floor ~6-8 inches unless blocked
somehow) with 1 adult or both adults up above.

(There is a large window in both rooms, of course)

The _deluxe_ room is as follows:  It has a couch and a single foldable
chair (plus fold down small table).  The couch folds out to a double
bed.  There is a single bunk above.  We folded out the couch for ourselves
and took the mattress from the bunk and put it on the floor (and the
foldable chair up onto the bunk) where our 2 year old slept.  Worked
like a charm.  The room has a stall which is a toilet and a shower.
There is also a sink/mirror/trash bin/towels area on own side (outside)
of the stall.

Kids 2 and under are free.  They price rooms as ($for 2 coach tickets) +
(extra particular room cost).   For example - we just went and it
cost us $1460 for the deluxe room round trip (incl. coach cost to get to
Ann Arbor).  This is _slightly_ more expensive than the three of us in
three seats on an airplane.  (I think American Express is offering some
sort of deal right now - I'm not sure).

Meals are included with sleepers (not coach).  e.g. you'll get two meal
tickets.  We had no trouble feeding ourselves _and_ our 2 year old with
the food that comes with the meal tickets. (We bought her a separate
meal once and she didn't need it/eat it).  So, food includes breakfast,
lunch, and dinner which includes beverages.  You buy your own soft drinks
or alcohol.   I think dinner costs like $7-11  (vegetarian - NY steak)
for coach people.  Meals have improved a lot recently!

Whew - this is getting long.  We checked a booster seat - no problem
at all.  Besides coach and sleeper cars there is one lounge car and
one dining car.  The function of the latter is obvious.  The former
has great viewing.  Depending on the age of the car they have tables
(older) or just swiveling seats (newer).  There is room to walk around
and there are _always_ young kids on the train for interaction.  Movies
are shown in the lounge car and the first floor is for smokers and for
buying "nibbles" and alcohol.  There is no smoking anywhere else (except
private rooms).

I really like train travel and our 2 year old really liked it too (though
she was tired of vacation by the end).  My husband thinks it's "ok" but he
gets a little antsy.


I did this. Many years ago, with three kids, then 7, 5 and
8 months, going from Chicago to New York. It was an over nite
trip. Then I did it again with the same three kids, 9, 7 and
1 1/2... It was pretty good. Meals in the dining car on a
train can be pretty pricy. The regular cars on the train
provide a lot of running up and down and climbing space,
most people are fairly tolerant of the kids I've found.
The trains have all sorts of storage areas for car seats,
some even check your luggage all the way through. Trains
usually have a 'club car' where you can get drinks and sandwichs
but again this can be pricy. Alot of people bring there own
food and as far as I know this is not a problem. Usually the
sleeping cars are more expensive, but do give you some
privacy. Bring books, games, puzzles, just about anything.
There is little or no restriction of movement on a train.

Enjoy. I did and it really was pretty easy, even doing it
by myself!

From: Nate McConnel (nate@grmail.Central.Sun.COM)

If you really want to take the train, my suggestion would be to definitely
get a private room.  It is going to take forever to get to Colorado from
Virginia and the seats in coach just aren't comfortable.  There won't be
a bit of space to stretch out once you get on the train in Chicago.  You
will be lucky if your family will all get to sit together.  The conductor
tries to get people to move around to accomodate the families, but some
people are just creeps and just won't move once they plant their butts.

Take lots of snacks.  Maybe you could even try to take one of your meals
along with you.  The dining car is really expensive.  The dinner was
worth what we paid for it, but for breakfast and lunch, it was just a little
more than I would have liked to have spent.  Sodas were like 75c a can,
but if you were driving on the turnpike or flying, you would run into
that anyway.  They have snack cars too, and they had danish (Dolly Madison
I think) and snack cakes and then just chips and junk like that.  Those
are all things that you can get before hand and you will save money that
way.  You should probably plan to take stuff in case of an emergency too.
One of our engines conked out along the way and there wasn't enough
or whatever for them to make lunch.  We were stuck on the track for 2 1/2
hours right during lunch time and they ended up going out and getting
everyone stuff from KFC.

My trip wasn't a good one.  I didn't enjoy it like I thought I was going
to, so I won't get into my ordeal.  You could try posting to rec.railroad
(it might be railroads).  There are lots of people who travel by train
who read that group and they could probably tell you more about it than
I can.  Maybe someone could even tell about the scenery and what to look
out for on the way.  If you go beyond Denver, I hear that it is beautiful.
I guess you go into the mountains.  That would be something to see.

Sorry I couldn't give more information about what there is for the kids to
do.  Since Syd was so little, all he did was drink bottles and sleep.  He
was really a good boy.

From: Kevran Day (

We did this a few months ago when my son was 14 MO (and walking since
10MO).  It was GREAT!  There was room for him to sleep on the floor in
front of our seats.  The seats are much roomier than plane and recline
better for mom and dad.  He was able to get up and walk around (with me
running after him).  And the dining car worked out just fine, there are
only booths.

I heartily recommend it.  We dreaded having him in a car seat for 5 hours
so we decided the train was better even though it made a longer trip.  They
did check the car seat and the stroller went aboard and stored in the hand
luggage area.

From: sequent!!carolp@uunet.UU.NET (Carol Peterson)

We looked into taking a train from Oregon to visit relatives in
Colorado this year and decided to wait until they're older.  We have
a 2 year old and a 4 year old.  From what we heard, entertaining the
4 year old for a couple of days wouldn't be too bad, but the 2 year
old would probably be quite difficult.

The clincher came when we checked into the cost of getting a sleeping
compartment on the train.  For the route we would be on, the sleeping
compartment added several hundred dollars to each direction of the trip
and moved the train cost for a family of 4 pretty close to the cost
of plane tickets for all of us.

If you fly you might try to find out how often the flight you will be
on is booked.  The flights we take to Denver are usually full and the
odds of getting a "free" seat are quite slim.
From: (Cindy Ptasnik)
Subject: Re: Amtrak With a Toddler -- Suggestions?
Date: 1 Feb 1994 19:10:21 GMT

>I'd like to hear from anyone who's taken a longish (including one overnight)
>train trip with a toddler, two yrs or under.  Any experiences or suggestions
>will be appreciated.

In November of this year, my husband and daughter (16 mos. old at the
time) and I travelled by Amtrak from Seattle to Central Illinois.  This
trip took 2 days.  We spent two nights and two full days on the train.  We
had a "family cabin" for pretty much the entire trip--just had coach for a
short leg from Chicago into downstate IL.  The family cabin suited our
needs fairly well.  It had two adult bunks (a lower andan upper) which ran
the width of the sleeper care--about 8 to 10 feet, I guess).  There were
two bunks for kids which formed an "L" with the adult bunks--they were
about 4 to 5 feet long.  Since there were just the three of us. we stored
our luggage in the top bunks and used the bottom bunks for sleeping, I
ended up jack knifed on the bend of the "L" as our daughter felt more
secure sleeping with me in a strange place.  There was also no real way
of keeping her from rolling out of the bunk and under the bunk.  By the
way, the bunks convert to "chairs" for use during non-sleeping hours.  We 
joked about our cabin being a closet with a bed.  But it's probably more 
accurate to say that it is EITHER a closet OR a bed, because once the 
bunks are set up there's not much room for anything else.  But it was 
room enough for Kate to play.  There was no bathroom in our cabin (have 
to get a deluxe cabin for those facilities :))  But there were toilets in 
our car.  Depending on which train you're on, there may or may not be a 
fold down changing table/platform in the toilet (very much like those on 
airlines).  On one train that we were on, there was even a shower!  We 
weren't brave enough to try a shower with all the rockin' and bumpin' 
going on.  The dining car was an interesting experience with a baby.  
Kate objected to the use of tablecloths, which were there to keep cups 
and plates from sliding everywhere, but she preferred to watch her meal 
in motion!  They have kids meals called "choo choo chewies" some were OK, 
some were vile,  and they were usually served too hot to eat for about 
5-10 minutes, which made for a cranky and hungry kid who couldn't 
understand the wait.  We found the lounge car very pleasant.  Kate could 
"roam" a little bit between our seats and look out the panoramic windows 
at the scenery going by.  All in all we had a good trip, but I wouldn't 
take such a long trip the next time.

From: robert@weitek.COM (Robert Plamondon)
Subject: Re: Amtrak With a Toddler -- Suggestions?

I really like Amtrak.  I like the trains, and I like the staff.  I
like the idea of going on long trips without strapping down an active
kid for unnaturally long periods.

One of the best things about the train is that kids can move around.
But they WILL move around, so don't expect to be able to sit and read
the whole time.

The Western long-haul trains are all double-deckers, will spiffy
observation cars and everything.  Coach seating is almost all on the
second level, while compartments are all on the bottom level.  Only
"deluxe bedrooms" and "special bedrooms" have toilets.  Eastern trains
are single-level, with a very different set of sleeping compartments
to choose from.

Compartments are expensive.  In the one trip where I compared prices,
a family bedroom would have doubled the ticket price.  We traveled
coach. (I didn't sleep well on the trip up, did much better on the
trip back, and would probably sleep soundly if I did it again.)
Coach has incredible amounts of legroom (at least on Superliner
coaches).  Even if the train is "full," there are lots of seats in
the observation car and the snack bar, allowing you to move around
freely on a full train.

There are lots of kids on the long-haul trains, and they are tolerated
very well by the other travelers.

Make full use of the dining car, even though the prices are unappealing,
because the snack bar fare is questionable.  (Microwave pizza is the
best kid food in the snack bar.  The snack bar pastries are terrible.)

Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL.  I've found the people at the other end
to be very helpful.  Ask them to send you a copy of AMTRAK'S AMERICA,
which describes all their routes and services.

Diane C. Lin			"For these are all our children...		 We will all profit by, or pay for
(Dylan's mom, 6 years)	  	 whatever they become."  James Baldwin

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