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We just returned from a dream weekend in Charleston to celebrate the wedding of my sister. But while I couldn’t wait to get there, I was so nervous about traveling with all three kids on an airplane. The last time we flew wih the kids was when Macks was only a month old. Now that he’s much more active, I knew that he would be a challenge. Thankfully all went well and the kids did so much better than I could have asked for (even with a two hour delay on our way home.)

I’ve been traveling with the kids since they were teeny babies and although I’m no expert, there are certain things that do help make the trip go more smoothly. Here are my top 10 tips for traveling with your little ones.

1. Check and double-check before you leave. I made a major mistake last night of not checking everything before we left our rental house and only realized once I got to the airport that I forgot my ID. It was in my sister’s leather jacket that I wore the night of the wedding and I completely forgot about it. Thankfully the nice TSA workers at the Charleston airport worked with me and did a thorough security check in a rather timely manner, but I would have never been in that situation if I’d have checked before I left. We also left Avery’s lamby (her beloved lovie) in the car on Friday morning. It was only 1 degree with a windchill of -18 degrees when we left on Friday morning and when we got to the aiport we moved as quickly as possible to get everything inside. Lamby was left on the seat in the car. I only realized once we were on the plane that we left it. To rectify the situation I told her Lamby was going on vacation too, but his trip was in the car. Thank goodness our story worked because otherwise it could have gotten very emotional for Avery. Lesson learned.

2. Give yourself plenty of time. I probably would have been able to go back to the house to get my ID if I had given us plenty of time, but we waited until the last minute to leave because we knew Charleston was a small airport and it wouldn’t take long to get through. Usually I leave a couple of hours (if not more) before our flight leaves so that I know I have enough time to get all of the kids through security without having to stress out. The security line at the airport usually takes the longest amount of time because of all of the little people that I’m with, the liquids that I carry for the baby, and all of our stuff. You never know how long the line will be once you get there so give yourself plenty of time.

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3. Wear your baby. I bring my Ergobaby carrier with us everywhere, but it’s definitely needed most at the airport. The best thing that can help you during your time through the airport is wearing the baby. This gives you an extra set of hands to do anything you need to do or carry any extra stuff you might have. I learned on Friday as we were leaving out of JFK airport that you don’t have to take off the baby carrier or take the baby out while going through security (at least according to one TSA agent) that all they will do is swab your hands. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to take a sleeping baby out of the carrier just to go through security, so this made me very happy. Wearing your baby also is a huge help as you are boarding the plane so that you can assist your other little ones onto the plane and carry your bags on as well.

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4. Bring a stroller. Our Orbit G3 stroller has traveled with us near and far and is always a huge help at the airport. I have both girls on the Sidekick Stroller Board on either side of the stroller so that they don’t have to walk around the airport and can keep up and I use the seat as extra storage to help me carry all of our stuff while I am wearing the baby. I can easily check the stroller at the gate and it’s already waiting for me when I arrive at my destination. It makes getting through the airport so much easier and much quicker when you have little ones.

5. Ask for help. On Friday on our way to Charleston, MacKay had to drive the car to the parking garage after dropping us off in the front of the airport. To save on time, I told him that I’d just go through security with the kids and meet him at the gate. I admit that I was super nervous to go through security at a very busy travel time with all three kids by myself. But I was able to do it because I asked several people for help along the way. From the strangers around me to the TSA agents that were standing by the belt, I asked for them to help me put stuff on the conveyor belt and help me grab things once they were off. Everyone was so helpful that I got through without any issues at all.

6. Bring entertainment. I buy a couple of new and inexpensive toys before our trip that the kids can only open once they are on the plane. Coloring books, stickers, travel games, are always guranteed to keep them busy. Of course any electronic device is also a safe bet when wanting to keep them having fun on the airplane. Snacks also make great entertainment. I’ll always pack a bag of their favorite snacks and pull them out when they are starting to get a little cranky. It usually helps keep them busy for a little bit.

7. Travel when the kids are tired. Late flights are always great for us because I know that my kids will be tired and will most likely sleep on the plane. For those late flights I’ll have them on their pajamas and ready for bed so once we land at our destination, I transport them into their bed without waking them.

8. Use a bottle, pacifier, or nurse during take-off and landing. To help equalize the pressure in your little ones ears, try either feeding them or letting them suck on a pacifier during both take-off and landing. Make sure that you do it once you are acutally moving on the runway because if you start too early you could taxi forever and by the time you are going into the air, your little one might not be hungry any longer.

9. Don’t stres. Yes, I know. Easier said than done. But trying to remain as calm as possible will help your kids remain calm.

10. Start early. The earlier that you start traveling with your kids, the easier it gets. My girls both know exactly what to do to make both the airport and the plane ride as pleasant as possible. Of course they have their moments, as any kids do, but for the most part they are incredibly easy going when it comes to traveling.

Great news! One lucky AMITC reader will win two of my travel must-haves, the Orbit Baby G3 Stroller which includes the G3 Stroller Base, G3 Stroller Seat, Sunshade and Cargo Basket and the Ergobaby Original Baby Carrier.

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