Traveling with little ones? Practical travel gear like portable baby bassinets and travel high chairs are an investment in your family's happiness. Talk to friends, read the reviews and buy the gear that will make life easier in the car, on the airplane or at the hotel (Wal-Mart, $21).
Have the kids carry their own backpacks with snacks and activities and (if they're old enough) their own rolling luggage like this cute owl bag from Skip Hop . They'll feel empowered and you'll have one less thing to schlep (Giggle.com, $25).
Introduce the kids to journaling with a travel book that gives them prompts to record the sights, sounds (and tastes!) during your family vacation (Gadanke, $16).
Keep snacks and activities within reach of kids (and off the floor!) with this Snack and Play Travel Tray (StarKids Products, $20).
If your minis are old enough, give them a digital camera to document the family's adventures. If you don't quite trust them to handle the good stuff, surprise the kiddos with their very own disposable cameras (Walgreens, $17).
Surprise crafty kids with an art kit filled with markers, stickers, crayons and more.
Bring a small first aid kit in your purse and make sure it includes all the essentials. Bandages, antibiotic ointment, a thermometer, Dramamine and Children's Tylenol are good items to have while traveling with kids (Etsy, $10).
It's never a bad idea to bring a comfort item from home. This Blabla doll looks exceptionally cuddly (BrightOctober, $34).
A mesh beach bag can be used at the beach or on the road. Throw in a ball, frisbee and a couple of paddles and you'll be ready for an afternoon by the sea or at the park (OneStepAhead, $15).
Perhaps more important than knowing what to bring is knowing what not to bring. Step away from those 10 pairs of shoes, mama. Only bring the things you know you'll need (and honestly, you can probably pack even less than that!). Try to create mix and match outfits for everyone in the family, so you can all pack less items. Call ahead to find out what your hotel provides, such as a hair dryer and iron, so you can mark those items off of your list, as well.
Carrie Anne Badov, Partner and Editor-in-Chief, EverythingMom Media Inc. has learned from her vast travel experiences that it's best to either leave the favorite stuffie at home or bring multiple "copies" of the prized possession in case one is lost.
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