Traveling with Kids
Planning a trip with the children?
Relax! It's easierthan you think.

We asked theexperts--parents like you--about what works for them when traveling withkids. Again and again, we found that a little good planning made thedifference between a migraine and a memorable experience. Here's asampling of ideas with gathered--some rather out of the ordinary. Take whatyou need and have a great time!

A--Join AAA.Their roadside services are second-to-none. Receive many other benefitssuch as discounts and their valuable Triptic service which maps out yourentire trip and gives you great ideas for interesting side-trips.

B--Bulkhead seating. Be an early bird. Two great bits of advice for airlinetravel. Book those flights with kids as early as possible and requestbulkhead seating (the roomy seats at the front of a section). If not, besure to get on the plane during pre-boarding so that you can have firstchoice of the best seats.

C-- Careful eating. On a trip, everyone will need optimum energy, so pack healthysnacks for the car or plane like fruit, juices, whole-grain products, etc.Try not to indulge in nutritionally poor fast food. It'll zap your energyand your wallet.

D-- Drive at Night. Pack sleeping kids in the car around 3 a.m. and start yourtrip. You'll be amazed at how much ground you'll have covered by dawn.

E-- Ear Wisdom-- Kids have a hard time when planes takeoff and land. Packchewing gum for older kids. Let babies nurse during takeoff and landing.It relieves ear pressure.

F--First Aid-- Carry a first-aid kit in your car or at the bottom of yourairline carry-on bag. Pack it with essentials but also extras like a needleand thread, a pair of tweezers, and a pack of matches. An old Girl Scouttrick that's sure to pay off in an emergency.Flexibility--In your car travel time, always factor in an extra hour forside trips. Florida is full of unusual places to discover, and the kidswill thank you for the fun.

G-- Goody bags. A must for long car trips or even 1/2 way points on flights.Include one for each child and pack them with age-appropiate items likecomic books, small quiet travel games, stickers, a sweet-treat, etc. Makesure each bag for same-aged children is the same or the plan will backfire.

H--H20-- Havea bottle with you in the plane or on the road. A must.

I--Inflatable Potty--A godsend for long drives. Great brand: INFLATE APOTTY. Don't forget the toilet paper and plastic garbage bags with twistties for disposal.

J-- Jumper Cables

K--Kids' tapes and tape player.Wee Sing Silly Songs, etc. Great stuff that'll keepthem from fighting in the backseat.

L--Pack Light. Contrary to popular opinion, your kids DO NOT need two outfitsfor each day of the trip. After you pack, go through your suitcases againto fish out nonessentials.
Lock Your Doors--At all times.In all places.

M--Money-- Donot bring a wad. Use ATMs with extreme caution.

N--Naptime Buddies Help young kids drift off to sleep by bringing a stuffed animalor two, letting them smell a small washrag dabbed with lavender oil (veryrelaxing!), singing them a quiet song or two, or listening to a lullabyetape.

O--Open-mindedness. The best trips allow for everyone's input. Really listen towhat your kids want to do and let them have a say in the plans. It'llboost their self-esteem and make them grateful for the chance to be heard.

P--Pillows. for each child in the car.

Q--Designate QUIET Times. Agree on times when everyone must zip their lips.It's vital to your sanity and the kids need a break from each other, too.Quick Pick-Me-Ups for long, tiring drives: A whiff of Citrus or RosemaryOil from a cottonball in a baggy enlivens your senses. So do eating freshoranges, listening to comedy tapes, or an H20 spritz from a small bottle.

R--Responsibility Help the kids learn this valuable lesson by allowing them toplan their own free time (with your guidelines, of course), buy their ownsouvenirs, take their own pictures of the trip, etc. Be creative.

S--Baby Slings (Carriers). Baby slings are great contraptions for toting babiesup to 18 months through busy airports, public restrooms, restaurants, etc.A must for discreet nursing. Wise alternative to clumsy strollers.Stop Often to Stretch and Burn Off Energy. Figure stopping for 15 minutesabout every 2 hours while the kids are awake.

T--Toilet Paper. You1ll need itTravel Books. Have the older kids create a travelbook or diary of their discoveries. Put pens, paper, stickers,water-soluble markers and map in a big envelope that you present to themalong the way, and watch their imaginations unfold.

U--Umbrella. Have at least 1 huge one in the car or one small one in yourluggage

V--Vary Your Activties--Kids need to alternate quiet activities with moreactive ones. Keep this in mind as you plan your travel day.

W--Wicky Sticks--Found in craft stores everywhere. They are sets ofbendable wax sticks in bright colors. Kids and adults can wrap them aroundtheir fingers to make animals, tell stories, make bracelets, the sky's thelimit. Literally hours of fun.

Y--Yarn and knitting-- Kids as young as 6 years old can learn to knit. Really! Evenboys! A great alternative to Gameboy.

Z--Zero-in on your ParentingSkills. Trips are famous for bringing out the worstin everybody. Since you'll have a lot of time together, why not help yourfamily brush up on listening skills. Two Great books by Adele Faber andElaine Mazlish How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & SiblingRivalry. Read them and watch your entire trip transform into a happyexperience.

Ann O'Dowd is a writer living in Nashville, Tennesee and is the mother ofthree young children.