Traveling to the Disney parks with children can be truly magical. There is nothing like seeing the Happiest Place on Earth through a child’s eyes. Here are some safety tips for traveling with kids for driving and flying to Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resorts, including airports, airplanes, shuttles, rental cars, and hotel safety.
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General Safety Traveling Tips
If you plan on flying or driving to the Disney Parks, there are some general safety tips for traveling with kids. Along with some tips to keep everyone in your group happy! Travel can be stressful with small children so be a few steps ahead to avoid it.
Pack snacks – Children, especially toddlers, can go from hungry to “hangry” in no time. Most airlines offer minimal food options, so packing their favorite snacks is helpful. Pretzels and juice are often not enough food to get by during a flight. Remember that travelers cannot pack beverages through security. Parents can bring their own refillable water bottles empty through security and then fill them up at a water filling station or water fountain before boarding.
Pack a first aid kit – Packing a small first aid kit can be helpful. Some basic items to include would be Band-Aids, Neosporin, children’s Motrin or Aspirin, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, lip balm, sunscreen, and any other medications that might be needed. Parents can purchase most of these items at gas stations or hotel gift shops but having them packed already is handy and cheaper.
Put identification on your child – Just in case a little one wanders off, it is helpful to have them wear identification. There are some clever ways to do this. Some parents put a sticker on their child’s clothes with the parent’s name and phone number. Some parents use a marker to write their information on the child’s hand or arm and then cover it with clear tape or a clear Band-Aid, so it doesn’t smear or wear off. Another option is pinning a piece of paper to their clothes with information.
Safety Tips for Traveling with Kids When Flying to the Disney Parks
When it comes to flying to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, preparing your children for their flight can be quite an ordeal- especially if it's their first time flying! Here are safety tips for traveling with kids to help you prepare your family for your flight and keep things stress free for everyone.
Book an early flight – Selecting a flight that is as early in the day as possible can make life easier. Parent and child are both fresher, there is less of a chance in flight delays, and flights can even be less crowded. If the flight is really early in the morning, the little ones might even nap on the flight!
Explain to kids about airport security – Parents should take a few minutes to explain to their little ones the airport security process and emphasize the need to listen well. The better the children listen, the easier going through security can be. TSA checkpoints can be a little intimidating (even for adults!), so describing the process beforehand can alleviate some fears. Also, parents should allow the family extra time to get through airport security so that they are not rushed. Click HERE for more information on what items, food and beverages can be brought through airport security. One benefit of traveling with children is that kids under twelve don't have to remove their shoes! That's one less thing to worry about.
Check strollers at the gate – For parents with infants or toddlers, it can be easier to navigate the airport with a stroller. Strollers are great for keeping children from wandering off, and they can also carry diaper bags, backpacks and carry-on luggage. Strollers can be brought through security and checked at the gate.
Arrange for or bring a car safety seat – Children under 40 lbs. are best protected in a child safety seat when flying. Parents should make sure the car seat has a label noting that it is FAA-approved. Most airlines will allow families to bring a child's car safety seat as an extra luggage item with no additional luggage expense. Travelers can check the airline's website for their specific policy.
Tips for When You're Airborne
It's also important to keep thinking about safety tips for traveling with kids when you're airborne along with preparing to have the most peaceful flight possible.
Seat small children away from the aisle seat – It is safer for little ones to sit in the middle seat or window seat. The beverage cart can bump their legs or arms if they are sticking out in the aisle. Additionally, they can reach for something on the beverage cart and possibly get burned by a hot beverage. Also, its easier to keep a little one from getting away if the parent is in the aisle seat.
Prepare for air pressure – It can be helpful to pack gum or something for kids to chew on if their ears bother them with the altitude. For babies, packing a bottle, pacifier, or planning to nurse during the flight can help with problem ears. Toddlers and older kids can eat a snack or drink a beverage to help their ears pop. If ears do start to hurt, parents can encourage their kids to take a drink of water or swallow a few times.
Have a plan for getting separated – It is helpful to point out airport employees to little ones in case they get separated. Parents can instruct their kids to find an airport employee just in case. We taught our daughters at a pretty young age to memorize one of our phone numbers. My number was the easiest to learn, and we would ask them to recite it for practice. This can be handy if your child becomes lost. They can give an employee your number to help reunite you sooner. This is an important item on our list of safety tips for traveling with kids!
Safety Tips for Traveling with Kids for Rental Cars and Shuttles
Once you get off the plane, your next step is figuring out the best mode of transportation to your hotel! Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World have a list of transportation options to consider. This part of the trip can often cause anxiety for parents traveling with small children for the first time so we've compiled some of our best safety tips for traveling with kids so you feel prepared.
Research car seat regulations for the state– Many rental car companies rent car seats and booster seats. Parents will want to research the car seat regulations for the state they are visiting. Here are the current car seat laws for Florida and California:
- Florida requires any child under 5 years old to be in a federally-approved child restraint system, and children 3 and under in a separate car seat. Click HERE to access Florida's DMV website with car seat information.
- California currently requires that under the age of 8 be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat. Children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall. Click HERE to access California's DMV website, which has more information.
Decide whether to bring or rent a car seat – Parents who pack their own car seat or booster seat can bring it on the plane, or check as a separate piece of baggage. Families that are renting a car can also rent car seats from the car rental company. It is recommended that travelers set this up in advance to make sure the rental company has one reserved for arrival.
Buses or Shuttles to Disney World – For those flying to Disney World, Disney offers the Disney's Magical Express ® from the airport to the resort areas. This complimentary motor coach provides transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, with complimentary luggage delivery. Parents will want to make sure their little ones are secured when riding on the shuttle, but car seats are not required.
Buses or Shuttles to Disneyland – There are several airports that guests can fly into for Disneyland. The Disneyland Resort Express transports guests from Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County to the resort area. Reservations are not required, but there is a fee to ride. Children are not required to be in a car seat on these buses. Guests flying into other area airports, such as Long Beach Airport, Hollywood Burbank Airport, Ontario International Airport, and San Diego International Airport can take shared-ride shuttles or taxis to the resort area. Car seats are required on taxis and shuttles. Note that these shuttles can be busy. Most people are understanding and will change seats so parents can sit by their children.
Safety Tips for Traveling with Kids for Driving to Disney
If a road trip is on your agenda then prepare yourselves for an adventure! When it comes to a road trip with small children there are definitely some safety tips for traveling with kids to consider!
Make sure your car is ready for the trip – Before you leave for your trip, make sure your car is ready for a road trip. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that travelers have their tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner checked by a qualified mechanic before major trips. Parents should also make sure their children's car seats are properly installed.
Consider a roadside service subscription – There are many advantages to subscribing to a roadside service organization, such as AAA or OnStar. These organizations can provide emergency roadside assistance, including towing, jumpstarts, tire changes, emergency fuel, and new batteries.
Practice safe driving – Parents should exercise safe driving tips on these trips. Safe driving tips include getting a good night's sleep, stopping every two or three hours for a break, not texting and driving, and taking turns driving if possible. Drinking water can also help keep the driver alert.
Pack extra food and supplies – Bottles of water and non-perishable food items can be easily stored in your car in case you get stuck in traffic or a storm. It has been known to snow over the Grapevine, and we have been heavy rains cause mudslides and delays. If you are traveling with infants or toddlers, pack extra formula, bottles, baby food, diapers, and snacks. Other recommended safety items include blankets, flashlights, jumper cables, and flares.
Rest stop safety – My family and I prefer to stop at convenience stores, gas stations, Starbucks, or fast food restaurants for bathroom breaks, especially when traveling at night If stopping at a rest stop, travelers should be aware of surroundings, park in well-lit areas at night, lock car doors, and accompany their children. Also, parents should use a family-restroom if it is available.
Hotel Safety Tips on Your Disney Vacation
It's important to still consider safety for your kiddos once you arrive at your hotel. Being in a new place with unfamiliar surroundings can be a recipe for trouble if you don't plan ahead. Here are our best tips for navigating a hotel safely with kids to complete your check list of safety tips for traveling with kids!
Become familiar with hotel – The hotel's website can provide a lot of helpful information before arrival. Parents can research their hotel become familiar with the room, lobby and pool areas. The website will also list hotel and room amenities. Travelers can contact the hotel's concierge to ask about baby proofing and the availability of cribs, highchairs etc. Check out our comprehensive guides to hotels at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to help you prepare.
Baby proof the hotel room – Some hotels offer baby proofing services, but parents can bring along some basic items to make the room safer for little ones. Some helpful items include plastic corner covers for furniture, duct tape, plastic electric plug covers, and drawer and cabinet locks. Upon arrival, parents can place certain items out of reach, such as glassware, vases, coffee makers, and trash cans. Parents should also check the floor of the hotel room to ensure there are no unsafe items left behind. Parents will also want to lock balcony doors and make sure the room door is closed at all times.
Plan ahead for baby gear – Most hotels offer crib, playpen, and highchair rentals, but may need to reserve these in advance. When we drove to hotels, we would pack our own portable playpen for our girls to sleep in. Parents can also look into nearby companies that rent highchairs, playpens, and baby bathtubs. Most Disney World and Disneyland resort hotels offer complimentary cribs and playpens, but guests should request these in advance.
Discuss hotel safety tips – Have a conversation with little one on do’s and don’t when in the hotel room and lobby. Parents can instruct their children to not open the hotel door, not run in the hallways, or not get in elevators without their adult. We had friends stay in a hotel with several floors and their toddler got on the elevator without them. They had a stressful few minutes figuring out which floor she ended up on. It is also helpful to point out hotel employees so children know who they are if they get lost. With older kids, the family can decide on a meeting place if separated, such as the hotel lobby. Parents can also teach older kids how to dial the hotel phone and reach the operator or 911.
Talk about pool safety – Parents will want to make sure their children know how deep the pool is. Most hotel pools prohibit diving, but kids should know if and where they can jump into the pool. Many hotel pools do not have life guards, however, many Disney resort hotel pools do have them. Parents will want to have clear rules for when their kids get in the water and to stay by adults if they cannot swim. Being a vigilant parent is one of the top ways to practice good safety tips for traveling with kids!
Plan Your Disney Parks Vacation!
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You can discover more about planning your trip to Disneyland from these links:
- Top 15+ Things for Teens in California Adventure
- Walt Disney World Lost Children: Tips to Avoid Losing Kids at Walt Disney World
- Top 25+ Things in Disneyland for Teens
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