Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 23, Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Travelling with kids

Last year Jakir Hossen and his wife Bonny took their two-year-old son for an overseas holiday. Everything was fine for two hours after they boarded the flight, but suddenly the child started screaming.

“Your child may be suffering from ear pain,” one of the fellow passengers said. Some passengers threw annoyed looks when they passed by their seats. The parents tried to pacify him, but the child did not stop until the plane landed.

After reaching the hotel, the parents realised that the child was suffering from constipation and gave his parents a hard time throughout the holiday.

“Taking a baby on holiday is like a nightmare and I'll not travel with him until he grows up,” said Bonny.

With the summer vacations upon us, many families are planning a family getaway. Travelling with children is fun but at the same time stressful, especially when the child is small. But with a little preparation, it is not as difficult as you think.

Ripon Ahmed, a businessman, travels frequently with his family. “Whether you travel with children by plane, car or train, you should always keep a few things in mind, so your journey can be a wonderful one. Don't over-pack and try to distinguish what is actually a necessity.

“Bring a small supply of medicines including cough syrup, fever reducer, saline and diarrhoea tablets etc. Sunscreen and calamine lotion are also musts for hot weather trips. Don't travel with severely sick babies. Mosquito repellent creams and mosquito nets should be used in mosquito-prone areas.

“Take a variety of things to keep the kids entertained -- books, colouring books, crayons, toys, IPods to help keep the kids occupied with activities. If your children are old enough to read and write, encourage them to start writing information they notice along the way and draw pictures.

“Take extra clothes for you and the child. They can spill food on themselves, so pack wet wipes or a moist washcloth into a sealable plastic bag to clean faces and hands easily while travelling. Be sure to take plenty of extra liquids for the kids to drink, plus finger food and fruits. Avoid sodas as they are rich in calories and sometimes cause stomach pain,” he suggests.

When you travel by air, you should remember the following tips:

It is wise to travel with a baby above three months for flying. If you have to fly when the baby is younger check the minimum age policy of the airline prior to booking.

Most airlines offer baby bassinets on long haul flights. If you need a bassinet, book early and specify that you require a bassinet at the time of booking. Bassinets are not suitable for children over about eight months of age.

Ask staff at the time of check-in if you are allowed to keep your pram or stroller with you until it is time to board.

Take an extra-large purse as a carry on, which should be filled with toys, snacks, a small pack of wipes, a tube of lotion, hand towel and two fresh diapers. If you are travelling by air, remember to check early, which of these you can carry in your bag through security.

Take your own baby food, bowl and utensils. You can ask for bottles and meals to be warmed well by cabin crew.

Always travel with a scarf or shawl to protect your kid from the chilled temperature.

Use the bathroom. Make sure to have little ones use the bathroom before boarding the plane.

Get older children to carry their own special totes with stickers, colouring books, reading books, toys, etc.

Bring chewing gum or hard candies for older kids or juice boxes for younger kids, and either breastfeed or give a bottle to babies during take-off and landing to avoid their ears from popping.

If you are travelling in a car, one very important part of any trip is the pit stops. Make an effort to stop at least once every two hours when travelling, and let the kids go to the bathroom.

Teach children not to put fingers anywhere other than the door handles and watch their step.

Train travel is a relaxing, economical alternative to flying or driving long distances with scenic views and a time to enjoy each other's company.

If the trip is longer than six hours, consider travelling at night and book a sleeper car. Reserve a window seat. Packing for a rail trip is similar to travelling by other vehicles. You may have a little more room if you book a sleeper car but most luggage should be stored in baggage. Limit each member to one carry-on piece.

Bring comfortable shoes and a change of clothing for each member of the family.

Pack a toothbrush for each member in carry-on luggage.

Delays can occur so be prepared, especially if meeting a connecting flight, bus or train at your destination.

Arrive at least an hour before your train's scheduled departure to check your luggage and give your family time to find the departure gate and familiarise yourself with the train station.

Locate the washroom facilities. Supervise young children when using the washroom. Children should never go in the washroom or sleeper car with another passenger.

Remind children to respect other passengers and service attendants at all times.

Take advantage of train stops that allow passengers to disembark for some fresh air and to stretch your legs but don't forget you reboard the train on time.

Teach children not to play with any emergency braking systems. Children should not play or touch any exterior doors or emergency windows. Use caution when embarking and disembarking. Take advantage of the assistance offered by service attendants.

Young children should not wander the trains at will.

Use caution when walking or moving in the train as a sudden stop can occur at any moment. Sudden movements can also occur after the train has stopped.

If children are sleeping in upper bunks, look for a harness or rail that will reduce the risk of falling out during the night. Some trains have a harness system. If a harness system is used that has openings, tell children not to put their head in the openings.

Bring your stroller.

While you are in train, never let children near the train wheels. The train can move at any time. Don't let your kid cross the rails or play on the rails. Teach children never to play on rail lines at any time or go on rail bridges. Teach children not to play with any emergency braking systems.

Children should not play or touch any exterior doors or emergency windows.

Have a safe journey!

By Farizaa Sabreen


Close to your stomach; closer to your heart

"I'll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today”, he pleads, unwillingly to pay. Popeye's friend, lazy Wimpy, almost always has a hamburger with him, even if he cannot pay. After all, he needs his hamburger; that's his comfort food!

You are no different than Wimpy.

We all need our comfort food. Comfort foods are those that you crave for on returning home after a long tiring day, during late nights when sleep is elusive, when you feel like eating all of a sudden and during so many countless times which is unique to each individual. These foods give us a sense of belongingness, make us feel “at home” and for some people not having their comfort food makes them feel like their day is not complete.

Comfort food pushes away negative feelings, and generates positive ones.

So, what kind of food can be labeled as comfort food? Scientists have done their homework and submitted their results. Although there's nothing called a “tongue-map” in reality; a taste zone does show more sensitivity to one particular taste than others. Similarly, can there be an emotional “tongue-map”, too?

There are foods which can make a person nostalgic, while others make them happy, yet some make them high, some low, blissful and so on.

Comfort food can be virtually any food; it all depends from one person- or group, or even culture- to another. One American study showed that males sought out warm, wholesome and meal-related comfort foods, like steak, whilst females opt for more snack related food.

But surely, one of the most popular comfort foods, that knows no gender or borders, is tea or coffee. Discoverers of these beverages probably did not realise, when they stumbled upon the recipes of these world-wide favourites, just how many people would get hooked onto these and once that happened would find it of utmost difficulty to get through a day without one sip of theses favourites of theirs.

Coffee and tea can probably be said to be the “socially accepted addictions”. It will be hard to come across a coffee/tea lover who has spent half of the day without having a cup and not complained about how sleepy they feel or how their head hurts. These people have to have their fancied alternative of the above mentioned drinks when they wake up, when they go to work, when they hang out, when they go back home and the list is endless.

A university student shares her thoughts, “When I rush through assignments throughout the night to submit the next day, a mug of coffee is a life-saver.”

Soft drinks such as colas are another beverage popular as a comfort food (or rather, comfort drink!). While there are some people who avoid these due to the detrimental effects on health, to the lovers of soft drinks it is absolutely necessary. These people have to have soft drinks be it Pepsi, Seven-up or Mirinda with every meal and almost every time they feel thirsty.

“For me, Seven-up is water!” says a soda fanatic.

If some comfort foods promote happiness, many others can engender nostalgia. Motin, a Bangladeshi expatriate living in the US, needs his regular intake of hilsha fish. “When I have hilsha curry, the scent and taste gives me a journey down the memory lane,” he says.

On the other hand, chocolates and ice-creams are hot favourites as comfort foods. Research has shown that sweetness promotes exhilaration and elevates our mind.

In one of the seasons of Friends, when Chandler talks about his failing affair, Rachel and Monica gave him a box of “low-cal, non-diary, soy milk” ice-cream. When he lost all hope once he thought his affair went completely down the drain, the girls brought out the real stuff for him- the box of high-fat ice-cream!

Chocolates and ice-creams are “happy” foods; they help people get over break-ups, they help people feel alive and warm even after a tiring day's work. Plenty of people stock their refrigerators with varieties of chocolate and usually can be observed to be going on a trip to the refrigerator, every few hours, and returning with a bar.

But this is no healthy practice. It can be argued that a food becomes comfort food through acquired taste. Perhaps it develops almost consciously, when you “decide” what your comfort food is.

Comfort foods such as chocolates lead to obesity. Comfort food, literally speaking, should make you feel comfortable and good! Unhealthy foods will do the opposite in the long run.

This is where the trick lies. Try to make a healthy or relatively harmless food your comfort food. So, instead of going with your instinct to grab a chocolate bar or a carbonated drink, go with black tea, or soup, or a low-fat sandwich.

By M H Haider and Karishma Ameen


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