With the holidays amongst us, many of us are boarding planes or loading up in our cars on our way to see family or head back home. When we become parents, traveling becomes a whole new ball game! Any of us that have had a screaming baby, or an ornery toddler on the plane or in the car can relate to those stressful feelings.

Sometimes there is just no way around a cranky child in the midst of travel, but the better prepared we are to deal with it, the better chance we have of curbing it.  I have traveled a lot with my boys, and have found the following to be helpful:

Snacks-Most kids love to eat. I have found it essential to bring a variety of snacks, especially those snacks that are a rare treat, like fruit leathers, juice boxes, cereal, chips, and crackers.  For babies, aside from appropriate snacks for them, it’s ideal if mom can wait to nurse or bottle feed during take off and landing as sucking eases the ear pressure associated with the drastic change in elevation.

Activities- Books, coloring paper and crayons, small toys, and travel games are great. Again, it’s helpful to bring something new or a variety of your child(ren)’s favorite toys. Kids love when we play with them, rather than expecting them to entertain themselves. If your child is old enough, let him help prepare for the trip and bring his own carry on; this is great fun for a little one and he can pick out some toys, snacks and books. While I am not big on my kids using technology, I have used it in a pinch while traveling if needed. The iPhone is a wonderful invention for such things (you can have a movie or two downloaded). Let your child run around before boarding the plane; some airports have an indoor play area.

Comfort-Dress your little ones in comfortable clothes. I’ve always found pajamas to be perfectly acceptable on the plane, or in the car. Have a change of clothes accessible in case you need them, along with wipes and diapers. It’s also nice to bring a blanket and small pillow or stuffed animal for them to snuggle up with.

While on vacation, we often want to pack so much in, but remember that children tire easily and veering too much from their routine can leave them wondering what is next, which is often the cause of undesired behavior. Try to keep it simple, and at their pace. Keep some unstructured time for them to explore their surroundings where they are allowed to be kids. Most of all, stay calm and enjoy your trip!

Tessa Munson Wood, Children’s Category Manager