Stress-Free Holiday Travel Tips
Air Travel Tip: Abroad Advice
Apply for your baby's passport ASAP when flying internationally (including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean). All passengers, even babies, need a passport for air travel. If your vacation is fast approaching, head over to travel.state.gov to rush the order for an additional fee.
Air Travel Tip: Fly by the Rules
Declare any liquids such as formula, breast milk, and juice at security checkpoints. Keep in mind the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allow parents to board with "reasonable quantities" larger than the normal 3.4-ounce limit.
Air Travel Tip: Save Time at Security
Under the TSA carry-on inspection rules, parents and their infants will no longer be required to taste the breast milk or baby formula, which can spoil the liquids. However, passengers still have to declare milk or baby-food containers that exceed the standard 3.4 ounces at the security checkpoint. Avoid extra hassle by only bringing a "reasonable" amount for the length of your trip.
Air Travel Tip: Carry-On Clues
With all the pricey checked-baggage fees these days, it's tempting to try to carry on as much as you can. But visit your airline's Website first to read their specific policy on how many bags you can bring on, especially if you're not buying a seat for your baby. Some will count an unticketed child's stuff as part of the parent's allotment. The good news? Most airlines still let you check a car seat or stroller for free.
Air Travel Tip: Keep It Fun
Hide a little surprise or two for your child in your carry-on. This way, if she's getting restless on the plane, you can pull out a new toy, book, game, or other treat. Introducing a new plaything or activity at a low point buys you more time.
Air Travel Tip: Water Break
Bring an empty sippy cup so you can fill it up at the water fountain once you pass through security. Kids often can't wait until service comes through the plane to get something to drink. Having your own can prevent a mid-air meltdown.
Air Travel Tip: Eliminate Extra Baggage
With all the extra baggage fees, sometimes it's easier to just buy bulky things, such as diapers, at your destination. You can also ship a box of stuff to your destination, which is often cheaper than the $25 to $35 second-bag fee. If you're visiting friends or family, find out if they have gear you can borrow, such as strollers, toys, and cribs, to cut down on luggage.
Air Travel Product: CARES Child Aviation Restraint System
Children are safest in their own seat. The Child Aviation Restraint System uses the plane's seat belt to create a safety restraint for kids 22-44 pounds. $75; kidsflysafe.com
Air Travel Product: Tag Your Bags
ID your suitcases at the baggage claim with ease -- and keep them closed en route -- with colorful, slip-on luggage bands. $15, myluggagehugger.com
Air Travel Product: Star Kids Air Play
Keep your baby busy on the flight with this clever toy that slips over the plane's tray table for interactive fun. 6-24 months, $30; amazon.com
Hotel Tip: Do Your Travel Research
Research hotels before you book. When choosing accommodations, it's important to be as close to the pool or playground as possible. It's convenient, sure, but the bigger reason is if you've got a kid who's potty training or just has to go to the bathroom a lot, you don't want to have to keep running across the resort and up 10 flights to your room.
Hotel Tip: Safety First
Childproof your room if you have little kids. Many hotels have free proofing kits -- or will even do it for you -- if you ask ahead of time. If you're staying with family, you'll need to bring or buy cabinet locks, outlet covers, and other safety devices. Make sure to do a sweep of the room when you arrive to look for dangling cords, furniture with sharp corners, open stairs, and other toddler hazards.
Travel Product: Support Sleepyheads
Tired tots can snuggle up with Noodlehead's Travel Buddy. More than a rounded neck pillow, it's a friendly face to play with in the air. $15; amazon.com
Travel Product: Make Your Mark
Before you enter a busy airport or city, print your cell number on a Quick Stick Write-On temporary tattoo and paste it on your child's arm. $10 for six; safetytat.com
Travel Product: Prep Your Stroller
Your little one will get plenty of hands-on play with the Sassy Izzy Inchworm Stroller Toy, but what's really cool is the easy-to-open cup that can store cereal and other snacks. 6 months+, $19; amazon.com
Car Travel Tip: Rest Stop Rules
For road trips, build in travel time to stop every couple of hours. That gives kids a chance to get out, stretch, play, and refuel. Experts suggest adults take rests every two hours or 100 miles -- for kids, you should do it more often than that (around the 90-minute mark or even sooner, if possible).
Car Travel Product: In the Car
Crayola's Color Wonder Lap Desk features paper that sticks to the travel lap desk while your kid colors (think giant Post-Its). Back at home, slap her artwork on the fridge. 3 years and up, $19; crayolastore.com