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Tips for Traveling With Kids

Some of my most precious memories with my children have been on the beach, or on a ski lift, or in the streets of a new city we have not yet explored together. But some of my most challenging moments as a parent have been during the car ride or plane ride getting to those amazing places. Mostly the plane rides.

When traveling by car at least you don’t have an audience judging your every move. When traveling by plane, you know the other passengers are judging. Of course they are, because didn’t we all throw some side-eyed glances before we had kids? And now we wish we could take them all back, because we understand that traveling with children is an act of bravery. And the mother of the child who is crying in seat 5A really wants him to be quiet, too—more than any other passenger on the plane, in fact.

But kids are unpredictable, especially when you try to restrain them with a seatbelt. So the only thing you can do is be prepared and hope for the best. Remember, a trip with kids is not a vacation. It’s an adventure, and one that we should all embrace.

Here are some tips and reminders I use when traveling with my boys...

First and foremost, don’t be a hero. If you normally don’t let your kids use iPads, or watch too much TV, or eat so many snacks, etc., this is the time to throw those rules right out the window. Remember, there is no shame in using bribery and coercion.

“In America there are two classes of travel: first class, and with children.” –Robert Benchley

Tips for Long Car Rides

  1. Play a game together as a family. For example, play I spy or The Alphabet Game in which you all look out the window for each letter of the alphabet on street signs, storefronts, etc.
  2. Make a playlist of songs that both you and your kids love. Hint: If you don’t play kids' CDs in the car, they will never even know they exist. The Beatles work better anyway.
  3. Take pit stops. Research if there is a landmark or a fun restaurant along the way.
  4. Download new apps on the iPad and let them have free reign.

Tips for Flying

  1. Suck up to the flight attendants and the people around you. Just a smile and a hello go a long way.
  2. Bring something for them to suck on to help with ear pressure: a pacifier, a bottle, a straw cup for younger children and gum for older children.
  3. Once your child is old enough, have her pack a travel backpack full of toys and activities. Make sure you check that bag before TSA does.
  4. If your child is younger and needs more attention, have a new surprise for him every 20 minutes so he doesn't get bored: a new toy, a favorite book or a special snack.
  5. Pack antibacterial wipes, a few paper towels, and zip-top bags for quick and easy cleanups.
  6. Pack a change of clothes for each child and a spare T-shirt for yourself so you are armed in case of spills or accidents.
  7. Pack their favorite savory snacks. Avoid sugary snacks if you can. There are few things worse than a child on a sugar high in a confined space.

And, last but not least, things are not going to go exactly as planned. Relax. There is a mini-bar on the other side.

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