My sister does not travel well. This is just a part of who she is, and anyone who knows her knows this about her. She is simply not a person who is going to be eager to throw some clothes in a bag and hop on a plane to destinations unknown. She doesn’t even want to carefully put together a suitcase and embark on a well-planned trip to a comfortable resort. So when she agreed to go with me on a girl’s weekend, I jumped at the opportunity before she had a chance to change her mind. We boarded our flight, and I could almost see excitement behind the fear in her eyes. This was until a mother climbed on board with two toddlers tethered to her with child leashes and a baby strapped to her chest in a sling.

My sister’s hand tightened around the armrest and I began planning how I was going to physically restrain her should she decide to make a break for it. The mother looked tired and nervous, obviously preparing for a long, unpleasant flight, though we were only traveling three hours in the plane. I wondered what kinds of plans she had up her sleeve to keep her children under control during the trip. I didn’t see any sign of a travel partner for her, so it was up to her to keep things calm. Was there anything she could do to make traveling easier for herself, her children, and everyone else on the flight?

There have been many times when I have heard an older mother recommend a younger mother give her children Benadryl before embarking on a trip. The medication would make them sleepy and the travel could pass without the mother having to worry about the children getting bored, antsy or frustrated. While this was once a suggestion commonly offered by pediatricians to mothers with active or nervous children, today’s medical community no longer offers this recommendation. Sedation is not considered a good idea for children who do not have specific medical conditions which would require such sedation to ensure their safety and well-being during a trip. For normal children, even giving a dose of Benadryl is considered a potential dangerous and harmful practice.

Giving medication when it is not medically needed is not a healthy practice. Medications are specifically designed to address medical needs, not to make life more convenient, and if they are used improperly, they can have a damaging effect on a child’s body. Parents planning travel with their babies are better off ensuring their little ones are dry, well fed, comfortably dressed and offered simple entertainment to help get them through the travel experience.

Source: Stauffer William et al. Preparing children for international travel. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 101-113, May 2008.