Before you hit the road for a much-anticipated family trip, you may want to do some early planning and smart packing to make the ride less bumpy for you and your children. Whether you are traveling by plane, train, or automobile, these timely tips can go a long way to helping ensure a memorable vacation for everyone.

Prepare ahead of time.

If you are traveling outside the United States, talk with your doctor at least one month before you leave about any necessary vaccinations. Some vaccines require multiple doses over a period of days or weeks and need time to become effective in your body.

Learn to adjust.

If you are traveling to a destination in another time zone, start adjusting your family’s sleep schedule several days before leaving. Dehydration can contribute to the effects of jet lag so remember to drink plenty of fluids during your trip. Avoid caffeinated beverages. Follow local time after your arrival.

Pack wisely.

Pack all medications and other medical supplies, as they may not be readily available at your destination. Remember to include inhalers, insulin and allergy medications and to keep the bag handy. Do not check it if you are traveling by plane, and bury it in the trunk if going by car. Necessary items may include prescription medications in original bottles, over-the-counter medications, hand sanitizer, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment and bandages.

Know where you’re going.

If your child has a chronic health condition, locate the closest hospital or medical care facility ahead of time. Remember to bring a copy of your child’s health history that includes blood type, immunization record, doctor’s contact information, health insurance information, and lists of health problems, current medications and allergies.

Stay comfortable during the trip.

If your child experiences ear discomfort during take-off or landing, encourage them to yawn, swallow, or if they are old enough, chew gum. Infants can nurse, feed from a bottle or suck on a pacifier. If traveling by car, motion sickness can be relieved by eating a light meal, using a headrest to minimize head movement, making frequent stops or keeping a window slightly open to let fresh air circulate.

Drink bottled water.

Diarrhea is a common illness that can be avoided during travel by drinking only bottled water and practicing good hand-washing techniques. Other ways to prevent gastrointestinal distress include avoiding ice cubes in drinks and food from street vendors, as well as eating only properly prepared foods.

Planning ahead for a trip and being prepared to handle some of life’s little emergencies will help keep everyone healthy and happy. For more information about traveling with children, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov. Bon voyage!