Your baby screaming on a crowded plane. Your 5-year-old asking repeatedly, "Are we there yet?" Your tweens and teens fighting in the backseat. Not to mention, lugging multiple suitcases, bottles of milk, toys, snacks, strollers and more.
This is a vacation?
Jennifer Chung, a mother of one and co-founder of Kinsights.com, a parenting community and online destination that lets you track your children's health information, provided 10 tips to help make traveling more enjoyable for the whole family. Take a look:
1. Use the TSA pre-check line. "This rapidly expanding program costs $85 and allows you to speed through domestic security lines at airports without taking off your shoes or belts," Chung said. "Children ages 12 and younger can accompany parents who are part of the program."
2. Book direct flights. Chung suggested factoring in nap time and to try to book flights headed east during nap time to minimize wakefulness and take advantage of the time change. "Pack whatever lovie/blanket that will make it easier for your child to fall asleep on the plane."
3. Choose seats in the back rows of the plane. "This way you'll be surrounded by other families," she said. "Forget about airline status, when traveling with little ones it's much easier to have understanding people around you if your child gets fussy."
4. Encourage children to drink during takeoff and landing to help their ears equalize, Chung said. "Also, allow children to run around at the gate before boarding, if possible, to burn off extra energy," she said.
5. Make friends with fellow passengers early. "Pass out little goody bags to the people in your immediate vicinity and apologize in advance for anything that might happen," she suggested. "Bribing your neighbors with chocolates and ear plugs will get their sympathy early."
6. Take advantage of organizers and other cool products designed for easy family travel. Stroller organizers hold everything you could possibly need during travel when dashing through the airport, Chung said. If traveling by car, consider purchasing a backseat organizer to hold snacks, toys, juice cups or bottles. "Bringing comforts of home like a compact wipe warmer and on-the-go bottle warmers will help little ones feel less stress when traveling," she said. "Be prepared for the unexpected by preparing ahead of time."
7. Bring the comfort of home. If you're traveling with an infant, Chung suggested packing his or her bedding. "The familiar scent will help them sleep better. Also, pack infant items inside your suitcase so if a piece of luggage is lost, you won't be missing all of the baby's items."
8. Bring childproofing supplies. "Think electrical outlet covers and travel baby gates to protect your child in a new environment," she said. "Be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels (or the crib Grandma kept from when her kids were babies) may not meet current safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options, for example, put a mattress on the floor."
9. Have a plan in case you get separated from your children. Instruct them to go to an agreed upon safe place and stay there. "Dress your kids in distinctive or brightly colored clothes to make them more visible and write down your contact information on an index card and place it in your kids' pockets to make contacting you easier," Chung said.
10. Pack name tags. "Whenever you're traveling in a crowd (city, concert, theme park) or traveling away from home carry 'hello my name is' stickers to put inside of your children's shirt with all of your contact information, just in case you get separated."