10 ways to stay sane while traveling with kids

Britain’s Prince George made his first public appearance since his birth in July this week, right before embarking on his first world tour with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Traveling with kids can feel like the end of the world, and at least Kate and William don’t have to deal with keeping an unhappy toddler busy on a packed cross-country flight. Absent a royal entourage, here are tips from our Facebook fans that can save your sanity while traveling with tots:

Plan your flight around your kids’ naps

Sometimes flying at an inconvenient time will save you hundreds of dollars, and if that’s the case, it might be worth it to deal with a grumpy tiny human for a few hours. But if the difference is slim, paying a bit more to fly during nap time could save a major headache.

Prepare your kids for what to expect

Parents are generally so used to flying, they forget how unfamiliar an experience it is for kids, even if it’s not the kids’ first time on a plane. Explain what to expect before, during and after the flight — but also explain specific behaviors that are just not OK in such a cramped area (here’s looking at you, seat kickers).

Dress your kids for travel

Children 12 and under are allowed to leave their shoes on at airport security, but there are still things you can do to make the trip as easy as possible. Don’t put toddlers in shoes that can be easily kicked off and lost in a crowded airport, and think comfort over style. Airports are one of the least judgmental places in the country because everyone would rather see your 5-year-old wandering around in mismatched PJ’s than hear him complaining about how his pants are making his tummy hurt.

Think safety first

Make sure your kids’ names aren’t visible on any of their clothing or backpacks. It may be tempting to label everything in site, but a label on the inner lining of a jacket or backpack is safer than a gigantic, easily readable luggage tag or piece of masking tape.

Get plenty of snacks

Are snacks normally only for special occasions in your house? All bets are off when it comes to travel. Having a good variety of snacks — both healthy and less so — means you won’t be stuck begging the flight attendant for a few extra pretzels when your 4-year-old suddenly realizes she’s starving because she refused to eat lunch before boarding the plane. Gum or chewy candy will help your kids adjust to an uncomfortable altitude adjustment they may not have experienced before.

Pack flight-friendly toys

You know what’s not flight-friendly? LEGO blocks that are guaranteed to explode all over as soon as your first-grader opens his backpack. Pack toys that won’t leave you trying to juggle the pieces or digging around under the seat in front of you to find that “one piece” that your child absolutely has to have right then.

Keep a secret weapon handy

Sometimes, it’s OK to hide things from your children. Pack a special snack or toy that’s a guaranteed showstopper and don’t tell your kids about it. Pull it out as a last resort when all other distractions have failed.

Make sure your electronics are fully charged

It’s another of those cases where all bets are off on a plane. No one’s going to judge you for letting your kid watch that third full-length movie or play one more round of Candy Crush. But your phone will never last as long as you think it will, so plug it in as soon as you get to your gate and don’t unplug it until you’re ready to board.

Get on the plane last

If your airline does reserved seats, skip family boarding and get on the plane last. Why would you want to spend any extra time packed into a tiny, closed area with no way for your kid to run off energy? The less time spent on the plane, the better.

Find balance

Kids aren’t going to be perfect on flights, and you’ll always find those couple people who can’t believe the audacity some people have by daring to fly with children. Most people are pretty patient, though, and are happy to help parents who need a hand. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to an offer of help.

On the flip side, you don’t have to be “that parent” — the one whose kids “will be kids” and end up running up and down the aisle or kicking the back of the seat in front of them for three hours straight. Everyone appreciates when an effort is made.

What’s your best travel tip? Let us know on Twitter: @reviewjournal

Contact Stephanie Grimes at sgrimes@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @stephgrimes