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Flying with kids: What you need to know

Sarah Walker Caron is an award winning journalist, freelance writer and editor. She lives a happy life in Maine with her two children, where they love to hike, visit the beaches and have lots of silly fun. Check out her food blog at Sara...

The friendly skies ...with kids

Air travel has changed a lot in recent years. If you are planning a trip with your kids, this is what you need to know to get your kids, yourself and all of your stuff on that plane -- and safely to your destination.

The friendly skies ...with kids

Planning a trip with your kids that involves airplane travel isn't as easy as it used to be. These days, there are many regulations regarding what you can and can't bring. At security, there are new methods in place including full body scans for some and major pat downs. As if that's not stressful enough, many airlines have ended the days of checking bags for free, so you will likely be carrying on more than ever.

Here's what you need to know so that you can fly easily with your kids!

Shoe matters

Everyone has to remove their shoes to pass through security -- even the kids. So stick to slip-ons with socks. "This makes the task of getting through airport security go that much quicker. Plus, if the children want to take their shoes off on the plane, you don't have to deal with tying them up before disembarking," says Tonya Staab, mom of 4-year-old twins and a teen.

Make sure your kids slip off their shoes fast -- or even before it's your turn! -- at airport security, as it will help speed you through. Also, before you even enter the airport, talk to your kids about what going through security will entail so they aren't too freaked out by the process.

Check (through) the bags

Today's traveling includes a multitude of rules and regulations. That makes getting through security a bear, but you can ease the load a little by doing a pre-travel check of all bags -- especially the carry-ons. "If your kids are packing themselves, don't assume that they know all the TSA rules regarding what they can and can't bring onto a plane. Go through the carry-on bags with them rather than risk losing something highly favored to security," says Lisa Shusterman, a mom of two.

Make sure you are familiar with the latest TSA regulations, which include having all liquids -- yes, that includes your teen's lip gloss! -- in a quart-sized resealable bag.

Pass the time

If you've ever flown, then you know how boring a flight can be if you forget your book or iPod. The same is true for kids flying, so be prepared. "Make sure you have a way to occupy your children's attention -- whether that be with food, games, books, etc. Don't count on the airline having in-flight entertainment," says Tyler Marciniak of

A good rule of thumb: Bring some things that your kids have never seen before. Having a new plaything will help occupy the time because it's exciting and undiscovered.

Pop the ears

Take-off and landing can be hard on ears, especially your children's since they don't know how to naturally "pop" their ears yet. The good news? You can help them! "For infants, feed a bottle at takeoff and landing to help ears. For toddlers, a pacifier or some kind of food item they can chew on without realizing they are popping their ears really helps," says Morgan Vanderwall, mom of two. For older kids, chewing on a piece of gum will help.

>> Do you have any tips for flying with kids? Share them in the comments below!

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