Along the way, I was jotting down some things I learned that I thought I would pass on to you. :-)
I found that talking a lot about our upcoming trip and preparing the kids to go on the airplane, was really fun for them. I printed out a calendar and drew an airplane on the day we were going to leave, then we crossed the days off as they passed. It built up quite a bit excitement and anticipation, so when it came time to actually go, they were just so excited and happy, they didn't even think to misbehave.
TWO | Get ID Bracelets for them
This is HUGE. At least it was for me. Kids have tendencies to wander and explore. And in crowded places like airports, parking lots, or theme parks, I feel like the fear of them getting lost brings on a lot of anxiety, which in turn makes traveling with them super stressful. I got a couple of ID bracelets for my kids from Road ID, and I was super happy with them. Obviously, they wouldn't prevent my kids from wandering off, but it gave me a little peace of mind that if they did get lost, all of my info would be on the bracelet.
THREE | Pack tons of snacks
This is a given, I think. But I would suggest packing things that they only get on special occasions. Pack things that are easy for them to eat and that won't be super messy. Also, this goes with #1, but take them shopping with you for their "travel snacks." Involving them in the process will help them to get prepared for the trip.
FOUR | Let them carry their own backpack
I had a backpack for each of my kids, and we loaded it up with their special travel snacks and a few other things (toys, diapers... etc). The fact that they got to carry their own bag and be in charge of it, helped them to feel a little more in control. And I strongly feel that this is one of the reasons they did so well traveling on our trip.
FIVE | Load up on kids apps and shows
iPads, iPhones, Laptops... they will be your best friend while traveling! Search for some new, fun apps for them to try out while you're at the airport or on the plane. Load some movies or shows up for them and you'll be golden!
SIX | Make a big deal of the small things
Whether it's a cab ride, shuttle ride, train ride, or just staring out the window at the airport watching the planes take off.... make it a fun and exciting learning experience. Talk to them about the various jobs people have to help facilitate your travel. TSA agents, Gate employees, the Pilot... etc. Keep them interested and get excited with them! Our kids thought that the shuttle ride over to the airport was the coolest thing ever, because we really talked it up!
SEVEN | Lower your Expectations
This is SO important. Traveling can be really overwhelming for some kids. There are lot of crowds, lines, and things to keep track of. If you expect your kids to be perfectly well behaved, you will find yourself stressed out and overwhelmed. Prepare yourself mentally, and have realistic expectations of our kids. The entire experience will be so much more delightful.
SEVEN | Give them some space
This one is really hard to do with little kids, but it's imperative. Obviously, keep them close and always keep an eye on them, but try not to crowd your kids. It will annoy them and stress them out, and they'll likely have more meltdowns. Give them a little room to breath. And by all means, let them be little. Let them giggle, play and run if they need to. I mean, it goes without saying that you need to be mindful of other travelers, but if your kids are happy, most likely, they'll be happy.
What would you add to this list??