Oh, my heart… this is a topic that I don’t think any mom has down to a science. I’m well-traveled (as our my kids) but the occasional meltdown, the whining, and nagging is unpredictable and real life. When I travel, I want to arrive to my destination refreshed, and with kids that’s certainly more difficult. It’s never fun being too exhausted to appreciate the anticipated arrival. Consider the following tips to make your flight easier:

Bring Coloring Books or Games

I go to the Dollar Store several weeks prior to the trip, and let my toddler pick out an engaging book, color book, or some kind of small game which he’s excited about. I also purchase a new pack of coloring pencils or crayons. There’s something about a fresh pack of crayons, don’t you think? Once we board, I hand him the new color book or game (that he mostly forgot about) so it’s a big surprise, and poof, he’s occupied for a bit!

Bring Electronics

Download educational videos, or their favorite movie on your tablet and/or cell phone. I try to download a few kids’ movie on an iPad or tablet in case the airplane’s screen doesn’t work. Don’t forget battery chargers!!!

Feed the monsters

My kids get hangry! I don’t rely on the flight attendants to feed them for me. I try to keep favorite portable snacks, and purchase a juice or water for them once I’m past security. If your kids are like mine: they need food, sleep, and more food to keep up with me. If I have to pack a handful of fruit snacks and granola bars instead of extra lipstick, so be it.

Dress them comfortably

Make sure your child is dressed in comfortable clothes. If it’s a red-eye flight (which I recommend for sleep) they won’t be too embarrassed to wear PJ’s. I dress my toddler in footed PJ’s, and keep a change of clothes in a carry on bag. Upon arrival, I can always change him in the bathroom, or just wait until I’m to the hotel. I also take along a favorite stuffed animal, soft pillow or small blanket. For the teens, I make sure they are wearing clothing that they can lounge in. Leggings, t-shirt, sweatshirts incase it’s cold on the flight, and tennis shoes.

Stroller Check & Rolling Suitcases

If I’m connecting from one terminal to the other in a large airport, I bring my stroller, and check it at the gate. It’s a God send. The stroller goes under the plane, and is waiting for me on the ramp when I disembark. I also allow my child to use a rolling suitcase ONLY if they can roll it without my help. I see many children in airports who struggle rolling that cute Minnie Mouse suitcase and it’s all over the place, travelers are usually dodging them and the child ends up needing help carrying the suitcase up the escalator. Yes, they look cute, but they aren’t useful if you’re the one carrying them for your child, or maneuvering them out of the way of other passengers.

Keep medicines and hand sanitizers with you

Keep medicines in a carry on. I keep all medicines my child may need (yes, I pack Benadryl and motion sickness medicine) along with a portable first-aid kit and hand sanitizer for germs.

Find an airport play area

Some airports will have a area in a central part of the terminal for children to play. If time permits, I let my child burn some energy this way. Again, hand sanitizer after, ha!

Book a red-eye

I need sleep. You need to sleep. We all want to sleep. So, I try to book a red-eye or a later evening departure time that coincides with regularly scheduled bedtime.

Again, this is what has worked for me. Every family is different, and may know of some useful tricks that were not mentioned. I’d like to know what you do when traveling with kids! Feel free to share your thoughts with me.