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According to the study conducted by the US Travel Association, traveling together as a family helps in strengthening bonds and creating lifetime memories. Family vacations, as reported by many adults, are clearly remembered after decades. But flying with children of any age can be a stressful experience. Not only do you have to worry about how they feel and behave, but also how others around you react.

So traveling with a toddler definitely presents its challenges, but planning ahead may give you at least a chance at a smooth flight.

The first step is to get to the airport early. It is time consuming to get through the airport and security in any circumstances and you won’t be as able to make a last minute dash to your gate as you would without a child or children in tow. Unless you live in an urban environment with good public transportation, getting to the airport can present a challenge because you must take into consideration the convenience of getting to and from the airport. Good thing that there are airport parking services offered by companies like Parking4less.com that offers services like on-airport parking, off-airport, and meet & greet parking that provides you a hassle free trip to the airport.

When possible, check in and secure your seat assignment online before you leave for the airport. Don’t forget to print the boarding passes & put them in your carry-on. Be sure to pack your itinerary, phone numbers that you may need, and a map of your destination in your carry-on. Nothing is worse than struggling to find your hotel with tired children in tow. Check with your airline in advance about baggage restrictions. On international flights, some airlines will allow a lap infant to check in baggage, other airlines exclude baby items like a car seat or stroller as part of the parent’s baggage allowance. And for the latest security regulations regarding children and their food and drinks, you can visit TSA Travelling with Children.

During the flight, set expectations about what behavior you expect before your child gets into trouble. Acknowledge that it’s really hard to sit still for so long and tell them that you know they can do it and that you will help them when it gets difficult. Remind them about all the fun things you will get to do when you land. As with takeoff, you’ll have to help your child with pressure in their ears during landing.

If you need milk, water, or juice, get it from the flight attendant before the landing process begins. After landing, it is easiest to wait until the other passengers have De-planed to gather your belongings and children.

Best of all, not being part of the crush of passengers exiting the plane will also give your children a chance to peek into the plane’s cockpit.