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5 Crucial Tips for Flying With Kids

Airplane travel can be tough. The flight delays, cancellations and uncertainty of it all. Add a couple of kids to the mix and it can seem outright impossible. So, here are my top five tips for airline travel with kids:

1. Tell them what's up

Kids do well with routine. And unless you're some jet-setting movie star, your kids probably aren't that accostomed to travel. So, let them know what's going on. Explain the details: when you are leaving, what's expected of them on the plane (lots of sitting, very little screaming), how long the flight will take and what happens when you land.

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When my kids understand their schedule for the day, they are calmer and happier. And when I task my big one with helping mommy take care of his little brother, he gets excited about the idea of travel.

2. Always travel with an extra set of clothes

I haven't learned this one first-hand, but a friend of mine did when her tot vomited all over himself (and her) on a 3-hour flight and she had nothing for either of them to change into. Pretty much a nightmare, right?

Now when we travel, I always keep a change of clothes in a Ziploc, along with a few extra Ziplocs (for dirty clothes) and a muslin (for quick cleanups). When we get to our destination, I just throw the Ziploc into the trunk of our rental car so that I have it for any day trips we might take.

Air travel is unpredictable.

3. Protect ears

A few lollipops or gum for older kids can be a godsend when the pressure changes on the airplane. The sucking motion will help them pop their own ears and keep themselves comfortable. Plus? Candy!

4. Bathroom breaks

Make sure your kids use the potty before you board the plane, and then again before the plane's descent (usually about 30 minutes before your arrival time). If you're unsure of when the plane will begin its descent, it's a good idea to ask the flight attendant about timing on your little one's bathroom break before the "fasten seatbelts" sign comes on, and you get stuck in your seat. You want to avoid this at all costs.

5. Get something to eat

Air travel is unpredictable. On our last visit to see my mother-in-law, our flight got diverted just before our descent, due to weather conditions. That meant an extra hour on the plane, and then another two hours to get our baggage, since the airport wasn't expecting our flight. And then a very long drive home through ice and snow. We should have been home at 3 o'clock. Instead, we pulled into our driveway at 7. Luckily, I'd stocked up on bagels and bananas at the airport café before we left. So, while our kids were cranky, at least they weren't starving, too.

Airline travel with kids can be tough. But with preparation, you can make it a bit easier on yourself.

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