As the holidays inch closer, so does travel season. You know, the time when every family in the nation picks up and flies across the country to meet with other friends and families. This year will be different though, because we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for all the tips, tricks and products you need to go from freaking out to chilling out.
1. Start Early: Depending on how many little ones you have to pack for, start getting your things together early on. Use this A+ list to pack efficiently, and don’t forget to always bring an extra pair of clothing for everyone in your family, yourself included.
2. Individual Backpacks ($44): Have each child bring their own backpack filled with their toys, treats and necessities. Trust us, throwing a few diapers in their bags will save room in your own and make your child feel like a big kid.
3. Your Bag ($118): Pack one small bag with all the necessities you need. If you’re having trouble organizing, invest in a slim organizer. If you have a baby on board, don’t forget to pack an extra bottle and extra formula.
4. Pack Snacks: A few items you shouldn’t leave home without include sippy cups for easy access to water (fill them up after you pass through security), two boxes of wipes for spills and clean-up, plastic bags for any soiled clothes or trash, plenty of snacks (even some sweets to give your kids a little something special), ear plugs to block out any unwanted sounds, gum for chewing during takeoff and landing and Airborne vitamins to help prevent catching an illness on the plane.
5. iPhone Case ($25): Protect your or your kids’ gadgets with fun, plush cases. They’ll think they’re getting a cool new toy, and you’ll know their expensive iPod won’t be easily broken by any unforeseen accidents.
6. Itinerary: Pack all the essentials — your itinerary, any emergency numbers you need and a map of your destination to avoid any confusion later on in the trip (when the kids have lost all patience and energy). Make sure someone on the ground has a copy of this info as well.
7. Kid-Friendly Camera ($40): Giving toddlers their own camera to play with makes them feel like they’re part of the adventure and encourages them to be observant and excited about the trip.
8. Travel Journal ($9): Get your slightly older kids interested in traveling by giving them a travel journal. Not only does this help them intellectually, it also serves as a great reminder of the places they saw, observations they made and food they ate.
1. Track Them ($13): Busy parking lots and airports are easy places for children to get lost, especially around the holidays. If your child does get lost, find them faster with DIY temporary tattoos, customized kid safety bracelets or Folr, a GPS tracking app.
2. Get All the Airline + Airport Info: Find out if your flight serves meals or if there are any baggage restrictions before you set foot in the airport. Download the airline’s app when you book to be able to call up that info easily at the press of a button if anyone needs it.
4. Pre-Order Meals: If you have a really long flight and want your little ones to actually eat their dinner, try to pre-order their meal. It’s especially important to pre-order special meals, since airlines usually only bring as many meals as ordered.
5. Wear Slip-on Shoes: With new security measures in place, make sure both you and your kiddies are wearing shoes that are easy to get on and off. That might mean flats for you and Velcro for them ;)
Airport and Boarding
1. Use a Baby Carrier ($160): If you have a baby with you, take the strain off your back and free up your arms with a comfortable carrier. These are especially useful when you’re running late for a connecting flight.
2. Check Your Stroller at the Gate ($600): Planning to use a stroller instead? Don’t check it when you arrive. Instead, most airlines will allow you to check it at the gate, right before you get on the plane, and then get it back when you deplane. Just don’t forget to get a stroller tag from the front desk, so you aren’t forced to ask for one while boarding in front of a crowd of anxious people.
3. Move Around: Play games, run around, do whatever you gotta do to tucker those tots out before boarding. May we recommend a rousing game of Duck, Duck, Goose?
4. Early Boarding: You haven’t been able to board early since that time you got bumped to business class, so take advantage of it now! Most airlines will let passengers with little ones board early, so have the kiddos ready — that means making sure everyone’s used the restroom pre-takeoff!
On Flight Necessities
1. DVD Player ($100): Don’t rely on any in-flight entertainment. Bring your kids’ favorite DVDs and a player to entertain them. It’s a great (long) distraction.
2. iPad ($499): A tablet is a godsend. Put books, activities, music and apps all in one, slim place. Not sure which apps to download? A few of our favorites include these 11 drawing apps, 16 science apps and 25 Christmas-themed apps.
3. Headphones ($20): These headphones are perfect for a practical, yet fun travel surprise. Plus, they’re designed to fit young children comfortably, while also allowing for individualized volume control.
5. Neck Pillows ($10): Help your little ones get some shut-eye while still staying comfortable, with quirky neck pillows that double as stuffed animals.
7. Drawing Utensils ($35): For the young Picassos in your family, pack a sketch book and some coloring tools to help them catch inspiration on the fly.
We shared ours, now what are your top tips for traveling with kids? Please share in the comments below!