Traveling with Tots

You’ve received invites from mami, papi, los tios and the in-laws all begging you to bring the family over for the holidays. Meanwhile, the mere thought of piling the kids into the car for a road trip or making them behave on a three-hour long flight makes you hyperventilate. Well relax (and while you’re at it, breathe). Here’s how to keep temper tantrums and headaches to a minimum when traveling with your children so you can go ahead and RSVP.

Consider your child’s sleep schedule. If you leave when she’s usually hyper, then expect to have her bouncing off the walls en route. Instead, head out when she’s ready for bed so she can zzzzz her way through the trip.

Be a light, but savvy, packer. Carry diapers, baby wipes, medicine, activities, sugar-free snacks and other necessities in your purse or carry-on. A change of clothes will come in handy when lunch ends up on his shirt instead of his mouth.

Keep them entertained. Take along their favorite movies, audio books and toys to distract them while you reach your destination. Turn road trips into a game by playing “I spy with my little eye,” spotting different license plates and asking younger children to identify shapes and colors through their window. Ask older ones to help plan the trip and then give them a map so they can keep track of the route.

Plan to make pit stops. Children can get fussy if they’re forced to sit in one spot for hours on end. And don’t lie; your butt was falling asleep, too. So give everyone a chance to get out and walk around and use this time to take care of your kids’ needs before hitting the road once again.

Safety comes first. Not only should your child be properly restrained in the car , but on the airplane as well! Follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines to make sure he’ll be secure should turbulence hit.

Carry the essentials aboard. The Transportation Security Administration now allows breast milk, formula, juice and baby food greater than three ounces on board as long as they’re declared at the security checkpoint. And to keep those tiny ears from hurting while taking off and landing, plan to give your baby his bottle or pacifier during those times while older kids can suck on hard candy or a juice box. And don’t forget to stow teething rings, liquid or not, in your carry-on to soothe the little one’s gums – and everyone else’s ears.