Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness–and of patience.  Below are some helpful hints for traveling with children.

suitcasesBEFORE LEAVING: Build anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar and by explaining the travel day occurrences. In a carry-on bag, strategically pack snacks, gum, pacifiers, bottles, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers, games, and perhaps a surprise toy for each child. You are allowed to carry on one one-quart Ziploc bag filled with three-ounce containers. (Remember 3-1-1)

AT THE AIRPORT: Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last-minute delays and confusion, especially with the new security regulations. Review screening procedures with children before entering security checkpoints so they will not be frightened by the process. Everything MUST go through the security checkpoint. To speed the process along, remove children from their strollers/infant carriers and collapse/fold the equipment. You should also pull out any DVD players or computers and take off all jackets and shoes. When going through metal detectors with an infant, have one parent hold the baby and walk through the machine. Children who can walk should pass through the metal detector independently.

ON THE FLIGHT: Bring a child/infant seat on board for children weighing less than forty pounds. Place children away from the aisle, preferably between responsible adults. Also, remember to get up, stretch, and walk around with kids several times during the flight, but do not allow children to walk around the plane unsupervised.

CAR RENTALS: Plan ahead with the rental company to make sure it offers car seats and installation. If not, you’ll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller.

IF TRAVELING BY CAR: Make car travel comfortable by bringing pillows and blankets. Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and use the bathroom. Play games like “I Spy.” Make sure the car is stocked with paper, pencils, plenty of engaging toys, and tapes or CDs of their favorite songs or books.

ONCE THERE: Have a daily schedule planned with some flexible, free time for each family member. Provide friends or relatives at home with phone numbers and addresses of hotels where the family will stay, plus transportation and emergency contact information.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Maintain a good sense of humor while traveling to give your children a vacation to remember in spite of any unforeseen obstacles. Remember that problems do arise and accidents do happen, but being prepared and keeping these travel tips in mind may help avoid hassles and undue stress.

Kathy Bennett has been traveling since she was born. Her passion for travel and her knack for being organized, as well as a desire to work from home to be with her young children, prompted Kathy to start Ticket To Travel, a Rhode Island-based, full-service travel agency focusing on providing clients with a carefully planned, enjoyable, and memorable vacation that is as stress-free as possible.