tracy-mother-headphones.jpgI get nervous when we go away. It’s not the idea of having our house robbed or the thought of not having a good time … it’s the packing.

The thought of packing for me and the kids and forgetting something crucial (that special blankie!  our passports! my black espadrilles!) freaks me right out. So I start early and I write lists. About a week before any trip I drag the suitcases out of the basement and into the guest room and start putting in the basics. I get the kids to try on shorts, tee shirts and bathing suits to see if anything still fits and then make a list of what I need to buy.

I’ve had a lot of cheap luggage in my day and I’ve learned the hard way that cheap doesn’t usually equal long-lasting. I suggest investing in solid luggage that will make it to wherever you’re going with all four wheels and a handle still attached.

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The next big challenges will be the airport itself with its joyful trifecta of long lines, idle waiting and heavy security. If your kids are small enough make sure you have a stroller that travels well. You will rely on it all the way until you board the plane. That’s where you’ll collapse and leave it until you reach your destination so make sure it’s light weight and easily folds. Strollers are also great for carrying snacks and extra baggage. 

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It seems there are approximately 1 billion stop points between check-in and embarking on the plane and at every single one they will ask to see your family’s passports and boarding passes. Keep these in their own, easily identifiable case so that you can find them quickly and avoid the very unpleasant yelling voice that pretty much every customs/airport official has mastered.

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If you are at all concerned about how your kids will act on the plane you’re not alone. Friends of ours had a baby who screamed the entire way from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. At some point the other passengers just started buying the poor parents drinks to help them make it through! If you’re still nursing you’re in luck. The sucking will help clear the pressure in your babes’ ears and generally calm them down. Babies on the bottle need lots of formula and water because being in the air is dehydrating.

At 4 and 6 my kids are finally able to sit and watch a screen for a long time. We deprive them of all screen time a week in advance of any trip so that they are starving for tv and can’t wait to binge-watch an Ipad on the plane. We have NO screen time limits in the air. Just remember to be courteous to fellow passengers by giving your kids earphones. Not everyone wants to sing along to Dora.

Happy travels!

Click here to see my gift suggestions for pampering a mother (especially yourself!)

I’ll be posting new articles regularly for the next few weeks:  Click here to read more of my mother’s day series