Welcome to Tuesday Travels, a summertime series at Traveling with Baby. This season, my son and I are excited about sharing some local daytrips and field trip ideas for families with little ones. This weekly series will also feature travel tips for families with kids-in-tow and related product reviews and giveaways. I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too. If you have an idea for Tuesday Travels, please e-mail me: drgarnecki[at]gmail[dot]com.
Whether you’re traveling solo for a business seminar or jet-setting with the entire family, no doubt that long hours on the road or plane can leave almost anyone a fatigued bundle of stress.
The Stress of Sitting
Here’s a few reasons why long hours of sitting feel less like rest and drain your body of energy and vigor:
- Sitting for an extended period of time (even if you’re flying or driving in plush seats) causes lack of joint movement and restricted blood flow to the lower legs which increases the blood pressure in the legs’ blood vessels. This effect is compounded while flying at altitude when cabin pressures often are at 8,000 feet above sea level and a jet is constantly pulling 1 to 2 times the amount of normal gravitational force (especially evidenced at take-off and descent).
- Let’s face it, almost all car seats and airline seats were not designed for ergonomic comfort, they were designed for safety. Most of the time, there is minimal neck and low back support, and usually the head rests angle your head forward instead of supporting your neck and allow your head to rest comfortably over your shoulders. Most car seats were designed for average-height males, so if you’ve got a shorter torso than the average male, then your car seat is probably not ergonomically beneficial. Airline seats (gah!) — need I say more?
Painless Airplane Travel Tips
- Check all bags heavier than 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. In other words, don’t pack the kitchen sink in your carry-on. While lifting your bags, stand directly in front of the overhead compartment. Do not lift your bags over your head, turn or twist your head and neck or low back in the process. If necessary, request assistance from a flight attendant.
- When stowing your belongings under the seat, do not force the items with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This jarring motion may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat, and gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you with your hands and feet.
- Support the curve of your neck and low back with rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain spinal support while seated. A rolled up magazine also works in a jiffy. To properly place the neck and low back pillow/blanket/Skymall supports, tuck a pillow behind your back in the area just below your ribs, and place another pillow across the space between your neck and the headrest located just above your shoulders.
- During the flight, change your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated, and sugary beverages. Instead, hydrate with water which will keep you muscles, discs, and joints feeling great during the flight and when you arrive at your destination.
- Do not sit directly under the air vents. A draft can increase tension in neck and shoulder muscles. Instead, tilt the air vent so it flows at an angle.
Painless Car Travel Tips
Sit as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible, with your knees positioned slightly higher than your hips. If able, lower the steering wheel so that your elbows and wrists are parallel to the ground, and you’re not straining your shoulders and arms by reaching up for the steering wheel.
Using a low back support may reduce the incidence of low-back strain and pain. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline. A rolled up towel also works as a low back or neck support. Secure the ends with rubber bands to keep it from becoming unrolled. For correct neck support placement, place the neck roll directly above the shoulders.
Occasionally stretch or exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue or discomfort. Splay your toes as widely as you can, and count to ten. Count to five while you tighten your calf or lower leg muscles, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal or buttocks muscles. Roll your shoulders forward and backward, while keeping your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. If someone is accompanying you in the passenger’s seat, kindly request a neck or back rub (you can ask, right?).
Loosen and tighten your grip on the steering wheel to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands.
While always being vigilent and keeping your eyes on the road, vary your focal point while driving to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and tension headaches. Use polarized sunglasses to prevent eye strain during sunny driving conditions.
Take rest breaks to avoid fatigue, no less frequently than every two hours. At rest stops, stretch and walk to increase circulation in your lower legs.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and comfortable.
- Following these simple tips will help you enjoy painless and safe travel to all of your destinations.
- If you do experience pain and stress from travel, doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat problems associated with the spine and nervous system. Find a chiropractor near you.
Traveling with Children
With small children, it’s tough to organize and pack all of their gear plus your own. Preparing for a trip is often causes me the most stress. I create packing lists for my son and me, so that I don’t forget anything essential while we’re out of town.
We’ve done numerous plane trips and road trips since our son was an infant, and I always split his gear between several bags which made it hard to find what I needed for him. Pajamas, cloth diapers, clothes, and toiletries were all crammed wherever they would fit between the multiple bags we’d haul around with us.
Recently, we went on a 5-day trip to visit Calvin’s grandparents and great-grandparents. It was such a hassle-free endeavor to pack up my toddler’s gear in his own duffle with its own separate bags and compartments. We were thrilled to review the organizationally-savvy My Bag by Kushies which has more pockets, compartments, and storage bags than a bento box.
I simply laid out each labeled bag, filled ’em up with what was needed for 5-days worth of travel. Voilà! I was done. I didn’t have to resort to a last-minute packing checklist that invariably always seems to forget something essential. Also, I could keep all of my gear in my bag instead of digging through my bag to find my son’s things–it usually looks like a clothing bomb exploded all over the bedroom whenever I travel with my son. Those days are now a thing of the past.
Calvin’s grandma was supremely impressed with this amazing bag which allows you to neatly stowe everything in one convenient duffle. There was room for his clothes, pajamas, bedtime book, a toy car, cloth diapers and covers, and Calvin’s toothbrush and vitamins. When grandma needed to step in to change Calvin’s clothes or diapers, she didn’t have to ask me repeatedly where each item was packed, the My Bag had that covered.
More Compartments than a Bento Box
This rad bag features two insulated neoprene boxes: one for snacks and one for medicine or vitamins. This was a great place to store his temperature-sensitive probiotics. Other labeled drawstring bags include a clean clothes bag and a dirty clothes bag which makes laundry so much easier at the end of a trip. There are also bags for shoes, and sleep gear which is the perfect place to tuck pajamas and the incredibly cute fleece blanket and pillow which will instantly be adopted as your child’s newest sleepytime treasures. There’s also a hook on the end to allow you to hang up the bag.
This fun and extremely functional travel bag is perfect for a long day trip, overnight stay with grandparents, or airline travel to a far away destination, and it retails for $79.99. It makes a fantastic carry-on with the personal blanket and pillow for your little traveler.
It comes in chocolate/blue as well as chocolate/pink. Although this bag is absolutely perfect for a toddler, it would work well as an overnight or travel bag for kids of all ages–including adults. Next time I need to travel out of town without my son, you can be certain I’ll be using it, too!
Note: The My Bag doesn’t feature a shoulder strap which would be the one addition that would make it easier for carry. Also, the zippers are a slightly delicate and need to be handled with care. I’d love to see more durable zippers in the future models.
Kushies My Bag is available for purchase through www.kushiesonline.com. You can also check out their swim diapers and other swimwear items for your next pool or beach excursion. When you place your order, don’t forget to enter code TWB10 to receive your 10% discount on any Kushiesonline.com purchase.
Check out previous editions of Tuesday Travels for more ideas on travel tips and day trips with small children.