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Best Tips for Traveling with Your Child During the Holidays and Keeping Them Healthy

December 8, 2021

I’m Dr. Lindsay
I'm a naturopathic pediatrician based in Colorado Springs offering primary care, chronic care & telemedicine appointments. I'm so glad you're here!
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Don’t you just love traveling with an infant?

Said no mom ever! All kidding aside – while most of us have our fair share of horror stories… (stomach bug on a road trip, crying all flight long, unwillingness to wear a mask at the airport…) with the right planning and a healthy dose of patience, traveling with your child can be enjoyable!

Let’s talk about how to set yourself up for success while traveling with your kiddo over the holidays: how to support your child’s immune system, healthy snacks to have in your purse, natural medicines to carry along, and tips to calm your child’s anxiety while traveling. 

Support Your Child’s Immune System Before Traveling

Traveling takes a toll on the body – our sleep is often thrown off, we’re away from our kitchen and stash of natural medicines, and we might be exposed to more germs. This much has always been true. But since going through a global pandemic, it’s never been more important to stay healthy before traveling. Support your child’s immune system and keep them healthy over the holidays by doing the following:

  1. Served balanced, nutrient-dense meals in the days leading up to travel. I recommend serving whole foods – focusing on leafy greens, berries, and other veggies! – and limiting sugar as much as possible.
  2. Water, water, water! Be on top of your kiddo’s hydration. Staying hydrated is essential for detoxification and flushing out harmful invaders from the body. (1)
  3. Encourage a good night’s sleep the night before. Sleep and mood are strongly connected. Getting high-quality sleep the night before a big travel day is likely to help prevent anxiety. (2)
  4. Give your child immune-boosting supplements. Here are my favorites that I recommend to my patients: Elderberry syrup, Vitamins A, C and D, Zinc

The keys to staying healthy (and sane) yourself is to focus on what’s in your control and be kind to yourself, mama. You do A LOT – and you’re doing your best!

Healthy Snacks to Pack for a Travel Day

Aren’t all of us organic mamas just waiting on the day we see healthy options for our kids on the road and in the airport? There are slim pickings. It’s really up to us to arm ourselves with healthy on-the-go nibbles while traveling. If you’re looking for ideas, check out my go-to travel snacks: 

  • Veggies and hummus
  • Sliced apple and nut or seed butter
  • Whole grain bread or crackers and avocado
  • Homemade trail mix
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade sandwiches
  • Dried veggie snacks – there are lots of wonderful options at the store, just make sure to check the ingredients list for additives.

We can’t control the lack of nutritious options around us, but we CAN show up prepared on a travel day!

Motion sickness: Natural Medicines and Remedies for Nausea and Vomiting

Nothing makes for a miserable travel day like nausea. Or worse: a vomiting child. The good news is I’ve never met a motion-sick child I couldn’t help naturally – and you can help your child too! Whether you’re getting in a plane, car, or boat, throw these natural medicines in your purse in case motion-sickness disrupts anyone in your family:

  • Ginger: Many people report that ginger helps relieve feelings of nausea. You can use ginger root gummies, supplements, or a tea bag (1).
  • Aromatherapy: Peppermint, spearmint, ginger root, and chamomile are some of the best essential oils for motion-sickness. *Keep in mind: essential oils have a different effect on everyone. I recommend keeping a few rollers in your purse and seeing which is most effective.
  • Wrist acupressure: Purchase a few acupressure wrist bands before traveling if you’re worried about motion-sickness. These are inexpensive and can be effective for some kids. If you don’t have bands and find yourself in a pinch, you can help your child stimulate pressure point P-6 just above their wrist, which may provide relief.
  • Guide your kiddo through deep breathing. Slowly in through the nose, hold the breathe for 3 seconds, and slowly breathe out. This often helps get through the discomfort of nausea.
  • Homeopathic Motion Sickness tablets like these, are always in my glove box or carry on.
  • Chewing gum (for older kids) works well to calm a nervous stomach and doubles as an anxiety reducer. I confess, it’s not the most natural in terms of additives and sugars – but it sure beats over-the-counter options. BONUS: it keeps kids from asking for snacks every 3 minutes.

Experiencing waves of nausea is no fun at all. In fact, it can be down-right miserable. Practice patience, re-assure your child that this feeling is temporary, and pull out your on-the-go natural tools.

Tips to Calm Your Child’s Anxiety While Traveling

Traveling tends to cause anxiety for adults and kids alike – it can exacerbate these feelings significantly for an already anxious child. Throw on a mask mandate and a tough situation becomes that much more difficult. Take these few steps to lessen your child’s anxiety on a travel day:

  1. Prepare your child. Talk about what will be happening that day so they understand what to expect. Then remind them of what’s going to happen next as the day goes on.
  2. Trial the mask they’re going to wear the day before. If you’re getting on an airplane, they could be wearing a mask for a long period of time. Practice a day or two before and again, help them know what to expect on travel day.
  3. Keep what you can the same. Packing your own food is a great way to keep things consistent. If they have a water bottle or bowl they always use, bring that along to help them feel comfortable.
  4. Help them feel in control. Give them choices like, “would you rather sit by the window or in the middle?” and “would you like to read a book or play a game?” A sense of control helps them feel less vulnerable.

You can find more tips on how to help your child cope with anxiety here.

Final Thoughts: Plan Ahead and Practice Patience

Traveling with kids – particularly young ones – can be exhausting. But typically traveling, especially around the holidays, means you’re off to do something fun – like seeing family, escaping the cold weather, or heading to the mountains. My advice to you is to be prepared: plan ahead, practice patience (a lot of it), and enjoy traveling with your family! Did you find this post helpful? Give it a ‘like’ below so I know I’m not alone! 

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