Traveling with kids: ETCH doctor shares common problems and solutions

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – We are nearing one of the the busiest travel times of the year – with many of us traveling over the holidays with kids in tow.

Children can be more vulnerable to travel-related problems.

Dr. Katy Stordahl with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to offer tips on traveling with kids.

What are the most common travel problems?

Jet Lag

When flying across time zones, it can take your internal body clock time to catch up to local time. Kids will be extra tired and cranky if their sleep routines are messed up.

Try these tips:

  • Try to adjust your family’s sleep schedules 2-3 days before departure by moving bedtime back slowly.
  • Get plenty of rest before trip.
  • Drink lots of water and other non-caffeinated drinks.

Ear Pain

It’s common for kids to experience ear discomfort during a plane’s takeoff and descent. Infants are helped by nursing or sucking on a bottle. You can encourage older children to swallow, yawn or if old enough- chew gum. It can also help to give a children’s pain reliever like acetaminophen 30 minutes to an hour before the flight.

Motion Sickness

Kids are more susceptible than adults, and motion sickness can happen by plane, boat or car.

Try these tips:

  • Have kids eat a light meal or snack before departure.
  • Try to avoid eating during short trips.
  • For longer trips, sip drinks and eat light, small meals and snacks.
  • Encourage kids to look outside rather than inside, they should focus on still objects, not moving ones;
  • Keep window open a little for fresh air.
  • Make frequent rest stops.
  • Ask doctor about medicines to prevent travel sickness.


Can be caused by bacteria and other germs entering the digestive tract. This can be a more serious problem for babies who can become dehydrated really quickly.

Try these tips:

  • Consider drinking bottled water when traveling.
  • Remind kids to wash hands well & often.
  • Use hand sanitizer when soap-and-water combo is not available.
  • Keep pacifiers & infants toys clean.

What should parents pack?

In general, there are some things parents can pack for traveling with kids that could help with possible ailments.

Here’s a checklist:

  • Medicines your child normally takes.
  • Don’t forget your child’s Epi-pen for allergic reactions or insulin- for example.
  • Over-the-counter OTC pain reliever like acetaminophen.
  • Small first-aid kit that includes antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, bandages and other OTC medications recommended by your doctor.

Also –

Don’t forget to buckle up! Whether driving your own car, riding with family or getting a rental, be sure your child is in a proper car seat and buckled up every time you hit the road.

MORE | View more Caring For Our Kids segments here

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter