Traveling with small kids in tow can be a challenge, at best. Here are a few tips for making the trip go more smoothly -- for everyone.
- Bring plenty of snacks. Dried fruit, tiny crackers, and other lunchbox munchies are perfect, but think about throwing some more substantial (but still portable) things into the bag as well: packets of instant oatmeal, beef jerky, and fruit-and-cereal bars are great choices, too.
- Help manage ear pain. Nurse (or give your baby a bottle) during takeoff and landing; it can help regular air pressure in the ears and minimize discomfort. If your child has been weaned or is too big for a bottle or a pacifier, consider EarPlanes air-pressure regulating ear plugs (you can find them for about $5 a pair at most major drugstores and online earplanes.com).
- Bring quiet toys. Any toy that can be reused -- draw-with-water toys like Aquadoodle, wipe-clean books -- is great for travel. Tuck a few new books or activity sets into the bag as well, to keep your kids interested (and quiet) for the long haul.
- Extra clothes are key. Keep a complete change of clothing for each child in your carry-on bag, and be sure to throw a T-shirt or two in there for you, too. Babies spit up, toddlers spill things, and older kids can get sick -- all over you.
- Bring your own earphones. No, noise-cancelling earphones don't magically make everything blissfully silent, but they do help your child hear the TV, music, or movie more easily (which means you don't have to crank the volume way up). Even airlines with in-flight entertainment are providing less equipment, though, and earphones from home are more likely to fit (and, therefore, stay on) your child.
- Make a quick-changing kit. Slip three diapers, a skinny pack of wipes, and a onesie or T-shirt into a plastic bag so you can grab it and go without having to take the entire diaper bag with you. Skip Hop offers a cool little clutch designed expressly for this purpose.
- Keep your carseat and stroller handy. You may want to use your carseat while you're on the plane; if you change your mind (or if there's no room), you can always check it at the gate. Take your stroller to the gate and check it right before you board; when you arrive, you'll be able to use your stroller to wheel your child to baggage claim.
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