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Any moms have great tips for making plane rides, roadtrips and other forms of travel pleasant with young children?

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This is from a blog I wrote for the site a few months ago. It has to do with air travel. Good Luck!

• My best advice is to bring the car seat onboard. Even though they’re considered “lap babies” until two years old, you have a better chance of scoring a vacant middle seat if you lug the car seat. Unless you’re traveling at peak holiday season there’s usually one available spot and people are willing to swap seats to avoid sitting next to a crying baby. Once you have that extra space, you get your lap back at least while the baby is sleeping soundly. If the flight attendants can’t find room they can always check the car seat in at the gate.

• If you’re traveling with an infant, try to reserve your seat in the bulkhead row. All airlines provide bassinettes as long as you’re sitting in this row. My son slept comfortably for several hours but he was a little big for the bassinette.

• Have snacks on hand for those cranky moments, such as waiting in line to board the plane. Bring plastic baggies of cut fruit, crackers or baby biscuits that in a pinch work miracles.

• Carry on a small bag of tiny toys and books. During the non-sleeping hours you’ll want to have some entertainment options when the in-flight headphones and cutlery grow old. If your child is attached to a blanket or stuffed animal, don’t forget to bring those too!

• Make friends onboard. You’d never know that grumpy guy two rows down is crazy about kids and will spend ten minutes playing peak-a-boo. Take walks up and down the isle, it’s a great time killer and you get to stretch your legs. On international flights, the crew is much more lax about letting you hang out near the restrooms or emergency rows where there’s a little extra standing space.

• Start feeding your baby during take off and landing. Either nurse or bottle-feed them to prevent the painful pressure in their ears. The flight attendants are more than willing to warm up bottles for you. The combination of the engine noise, flying vibrations and a warm meal is the quickest way to get your bundle of joy into a comatose slumber.

• Check your stroller at the gate before boarding the plane. That way you’ll have it on hand inside the airport. If you check it in with your luggage you won’t see it again until baggage claim. I bought an umbrella stroller for under $20, which worked great for travel. It’s much lighter to carry and I didn’t have to worry about damaging or losing the more expensive stroller we use at home.

• Keep your diapers/wipes and a change of clothes in an easily accessible spot to avoid a mad dash to the overhead bin in the event of a messy mishap.

• If you encounter extreme emotional turbulence with hours of traveling to go… you may need to turn to desperate measures. I recommend a dose of Baby Benedryl. I realize there are many parents who may oppose this method. My pediatrician said it was okay. The antihistamine kicks in after about 15 minutes and will help Jr. sleep for several hours. Make sure to test-drive this option of last resort before reaching 30-thousand feet because in some cases, the over the counter drug can cause hyperactivity in kids.
iPod. LoL. My son likes music, a lot. So we have a playlist of his favorite songs on iTunes and when we went on a flight to visit his grandparents we let him listen to it the whole time. We fell asleep, he is sitting in the middle dancing to his A is for apple. The flight attendant had a good chuckle and was amazed he was so quiet.
This was from an article of mine about car travel with little ones(which I do ALOT!)
10 tips:

1) Drink water only in the car and not too much of it. Stopping every 2 hours at a rest stop is great , but you don't want to do it more often than that. which leads to number 2 :

2) An empty plastic coffee can or small beach bucket can serve many purposes in an emergency(think being stuck in Brooklyn roadwork or at a toll booth).. a mini potty, a barf can, a garbage can.....

3) Have plenty of DVD's ..better than just the ones you own , go to the library and rent a whole bunch of ones they have never seen before..I find it keeps my kids quieter much longer.

4) If you are stopping on the road at a hotel for 1 or 2 nights before you reach your final destination, pack clothes and toiletries for everyone for just that one day (or 2), in a community bag...then save the big luggage or individual suitcases for when you arrive and are settling in for an extended stay.

5) Snacks good...too many bad. Endless munching leads to tummy trouble, more potty stops, more crumbs in the car and less real food. Plan a healthy sandwich and fruit for your rest area stops if you aren't going to buy. Oh, and lollipops are such a lifesaver, I just cant believe that they can calm a fussy 2 year old, and excite a 6 and 8 year old so much , but they do and they are not usually messy. I'll worry about the cavities later. However, snacks are a necessity because gnawing hunger can take its toll , so packing some nutritious ones like nuts, granola bars, bananas and apples will take the edge off until mealtime.

6) Designate quiet time. Song time. Movie time. Game time. Often I will I designate the next, say, 30 minutes, or until we reach the next stop, to be quiet time. Or we play a license plate or I-spy game . Then a movie, then quiet time again. Then we blast out some tunes and have a singalong. It really helps break up the trip. And it's fun .

7) Travel kids all travel in sweat pants( who wants tight jeans when you are sitting for so long?) and no shoes.They have small lap blankets too in case they get cold or that can be rolled and used as a pillow. I also wear sweats (but with my most comfy driving shoes). I can't drive in shorts because my legs stick to the seat. and my hair is in a bun so its not hanging in my face. Just a personal preference , but whatever works for you. Be comfy. Be happy.

8) Sunscreen! What? In the car? Yes. Imagine the poor child whose arm (or cheek) will be in the sun for the next 5 hours as you are on one road for the entire afternoon. Another great idea are those child window shades you can get a baby stores. Helps with naps too.

9) A little surprise never hurt! I pack my kids 1 or 2 surprise bags....a new activity book, a small candy, maybe a toy car or doll(small), a new DS game, a small handheld game, a letter from Grandma,pen and notepads, anything they will like ..... this is fun to break out when they get bored. If you go to McDonalds during the year, get a happy meal and save the toy for occassions like this.

10) Thoughtful packing helps. Large plastic bags packed in the suitcases are great for throwing dirty clothes in . Disposable sample size skin care and toothpastes are great. (less to bring home). Books for bedtime and favorite stuffed animals. A small extra pillow or 2. A battery charger for the camera . All medicines, vitamins, and extra bandaids. Kids seem to fall more on vacation for some reason. A nail file, hair brush, razors. A book light helps me read when the kids have gone to sleep already.

And lastly, a great sense of humor will make your trip a happy one to remember! Life's really about having fun, so don't stress. Just enjoy the sights and scenery and the precious time with your family.
I wrote a guest post for a blog a while ago about flying with toddlers. I have 2 year old twins who have flown domestically as well as twice internationally.

You can find the post at: Double The Adventure
I was a military wife and had to travel to Germany along with three children ages 5, 3, and less then 1. I also had a VERY large Golden Retriever who I had to claim along with my baggage before I could go through customs. Even though my children were young I got them involved in every move. They knew where we were moving and they did some research about the place. They had puzzles, coloring books, and travel books to review on the plane. Involving children in every aspect of travel has been the best way to keep them engaged.

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