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Whether it is your first plane ride with a newborn, or you tenth with pre-teens, there are always those ah ha moments when you think, “I wish I would have brought that”, or “why didn’t I bring that”, or “dang it, I forgot that’.  I am a lifelong business traveler who has heard his share of crying babies on planes, and I am a pleasure traveler who has hauled his family with three children through airports dozens of times.  The list compiled below is not based on any scientific evidence or algorithmic data, it is one frequent plane travelers list of must haves and must dos for a long (2-8 hours) plane trip.

1. Control the Ear Popping.   Did you ever notice that most babies are not crying when preparing for takeoff or during takeoff, but typically screaming at about 10,00 feet through the rest of the flight?  It isn’t usually because they are hungry, it is because the air cabin pressure is causing terrible pain in their ears.  Think about the pressure you experience as an adult.  Now put that into a 12-pound baby.  Ouch.  

  • Tip:  Seems obvious, but make sure you bring three pacifiers with you.  I say three, because you will lose one, one will drop on the plane floor which has more germs than a bathroom floor, and the third might get you to your destination.  The sucking on the pacifier will help with the pressure and will help your baby control the pressure.  
  • Tip:  For older kids, bring gum.  The chewing does the same trick.

2. Bring wipes.  Wipe down the trays and arm rests.  You may just prevent your kids from getting sick.  Also, someone is going to spill their free soda.  It’s just going to happen so be prepared.

3. Bring bottled water.  Doctors tell you to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Being on vacation doesn’t exempt you from staying healthy.  Also, the air in the plane cabin can lead to dry throat and sinus’.  Do yourself a favor and stay hydrated.  Besides, you don’t want your free drink order to be on water.  Have fun.

4. Pack electronics chargers on your carryon, not your suitcase.  I would say “bring electronics”, but there isn’t a kid or adult on earth these days that leaves their home without their personal devices to keep them entertained or able to communicate.  That said, I have had to make too many stops at the airport giftshop to buy a charger for a device that is running out of juice before we even get on the plane.  Have you bought anything at an airport giftshop lately?  

5. Bring blankets, pillows, and/or neck rest.   Plane rides are boring.  The best way to get through them is catching a nappy.  Unless you are in first class, airlines no longer supply free blankets and pillows.  On long flights 4 hours or more they sometimes sell blankets.  Again, bring your own.  Plus, it will be nice to have once you get to the hotel.  

6. Bring games and book for the older kids.  Boredom causes tension.  Tension causes fighting.  Keep the kids off each other.  Bring games and books.

7. Bring snacks.  Whether it is baby food or chips and licorice, happy kids are fed kids.  

8. HEADPHONES.  Self-explanatory.  Just bring enough for everyone.