No-Stress Holiday Travel with Kids

If You're Flying

Get the luggage lowdown. Find out how many bags you're allowed to carry on and to check, and if there are any weight restrictions. Most major airlines now charge between $20 and $50 for a second checked bag -- and some make passengers pay for the first. Keep gifts you're carrying unwrapped, even if they're packed in your luggage, to make the security check easier. If you've got a lot to haul, consider shipping gifts and gear a week or two before you leave. Ground delivery might be less expensive than extra baggage fees. Visit the Transportation Security Administration at to find out about limits on carry-on gels and liquids, including baby food, formula, and breast milk.

Use the Web. Log on to your airline's Web site to sign up for e-mail or cell-phone alerts that will advise you about delays and cancellations. You can also check in online and print your boarding passes at home. Get to the airport two to three hours in advance so you have plenty of time to drop off your suitcases and make it through the security checkpoints.

Dress well. Since plane cabins can get warm on the ground and cold in the air, make sure everyone is dressed in layers. It's also smart to pack an extra day of outfits (along with diapers, snacks, and other essentials) in your carry-on in case of delays.

Fly right. Take the car seat for your baby to use on the plane. Though kids under 2 can travel on your lap for free, it's safer for your little one to have his own seat. Plus, your child will be more comfortable in a car seat, since he's already accustomed to traveling in it. Wake him on takeoff and landing to give him a bottle or a sippy cup (drinking eases the air-pressure changes, which cause many in-air crying fits). If you've got an energetic toddler, don't board until the last minute. "More time in your seats simply means more time for kids to get restless," says Lansky.

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