If you are one of the very lucky to be headed anywhere on a family vacation, we have a few tips for you.  Planning ahead is definitely the cornerstone of traveling with kids.  That old Girl Guide/Boy Scout adage of ‘Being Prepared‘ can eliminate lots of stress… and there’s nothing quite like a good excuse to purchase mini makeup and a wrinkle-free dress for yourself..

Packing

1.  Make them carry a backpack.  Ski instructors make them carry their own skis.  Same thing.
2.  Diapers (if you need them) and wipes.  And extra wipes.  And some hand sanitizer.
3.  Pack a few ziplock bags and make sure your own toiletries and the kids’ stuff is in one that is at the top of your carry on, or packed into your suitcase.
4.  Write down all info for the family  – passport #s, expiry dates, places of birth, and keep it in a pocket in your purse with a pen for extra convenience when you fill out customs forms.
5.  Make identifying your luggage a game – put fun ribbons and tassels on your suitcases.
6.  Plan your equipment: will you rent or carry the carseat, stroller and pack ‘n play with you?  There are great rental agencies in many cities.
7.  If you plan on drugging your kids for the plane, talk to your doctor and try the drugs beforehand.  Some medicines act in the opposite way and make the kids hyper on the plane instead of sedating them.  (May peace be with you).
8.  Be prepared: gravol, lipgloss, hygene products, nail clippers (in the baggage), mini shampoo and Advil.
9.  Pack a tiny bottle of laundry detergent.  It’s easier to wash things than pack extra.
10.  This sounds kind of nutty, but make sure their clothes, gear or things you’re packing fit.  Ski gear can get expensive when you’re in Aspen with only a few kids stores..

At the Airport

1.  Use the priority check-in and lounge if you can.
2.  Put baby food and medications in an easy-to-remove bag, and specify that it is baby food and medication.
3.  Make sure your phone number, flight number and their name is in their shoe in case they get lost. An ID Bracelet is a great idea as well.  Also make sure you are clear on what they are wearing and have a plan in place in case anyone wanders off.  (One of the best displays I ever saw was a woman whose child had wandered and she screamed “MY DAUGHTER IS MISSING!  SHE IS WEARING A RED SWEATER, BLUE SHORTS and WHITE SNEAKERS!!”.  Everyone froze, listened, and then looked.  The little girl was found instantly.
4.  Going through customs?  Be prepared.

On The Plane

1.  Play a Masking Tape Game and put pieces all over them.  Make them peel it off.
2.  Snacks – make sure you have a huge variety.
3.  Now’s the time to invest in that laptop you wanted.  Use the DVD player in it instead of buying a stand-alone DVD player.  (Or put a few episodes of their favourite show on your iPod).
4.  Lego or other toys with a million pieces?  Not so much.
5.  Don’t be embarrased about bringing kids onto the plane.  Trust that they will behave and they will.  You have the right to take a walk down the aisle, use the lavatory as much as you’d like, and ask the flight attendant if juice or water is necessary.  You’re teaching the next generation the art of travel and it’s not easy.

Once You’re There

1. Relax
2.  Set up your space as soon as you can and help the kids settle and feel welcome in their new quarters: read a book, play hide and seek, get their bed and lovey in order.
3.  Take a walk outside and stretch the traveler’s legs.
4.  Drink loads of water and hit the sack.  You have lots of exploring to do tomorrow.

– Jill Amery is very much looking forward to her next family vacation.  And the shopping required beforehand.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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