You're Not Alone
Is it your first time traveling with small children? Do not despair. Remember, most of the people around you have gone through the same thing you are. Children make up about 25 percent of the population, and since they don't come with manuals, that's a lot of parents just like you who are trying to manage the best they can in similar situations.
Comforts of Home
Children respond well to familiarity. It brings comfort. Do they always sleep with Bunny or Blanky at home? Bring them, but be sure to do the "idiot check" after every hotel stop, to make sure these "family members" have made it back safely in the car or airplane with you. There is nothing more stressful than to be retracing steps, calling hotels trying to locate these items, with a teary toddler standing next to you once you are back home.
Traveling by car? Pack plenty of healthy drinks and snacks for the road. Let each child bring his own pillow and have plenty of extra batteries on hand for any hand held electronic toy. Music is a good short term distraction for a young child. Bring ear phones for a CD player or iPod, unless you want to be listening to their favorite Disney soundtrack for hours. Ideally, a laptop or DVD player is perfect for playing their favorite movie. Again, extra batteries for these devices are a luxury, but might be worth the expense.
the sippy cup + sony combo = airplane heaven — Photo courtesy of gregglesworth
Traveling by air? Plan ahead when booking the ticket, choosing aisle seats for you and your lap child. There is nothing worse than being squeezed in between two grumpy adults who obviously have no warm and fuzzy feeling towards wiggly toddlers. Small children do not like feeling cramped and need room to squirm. Just being able to stand up in the aisle or let them stand up helps tremendously, without having to bother a seatmate to get out. Having your partner or spouse across the aisle from you is a big help too, as you can do the passing of the child from one to another or help each other hold things, like toys or cups. Check with your doctor first, but a dose of an over the counter product, such as Benadryl, before landing, has been known to help with the change of pressure in the cabin to decrease pain in a little one's ears.
Take a deep breath when facing travel nerves and remember to enjoy this wide-eyed time in a young child's life, when new sights and experiences are abundant.