As you know, when Joanna and I travel, the number of carry-on items we pack just to ensure we are comfortable and avoid a meltdown is enough for TSA to assume we sold our homes and are planning to take up residence in Terminal B. (I mean, don't we basically live at the airport anyway?)

But here's what may surprise you: This level of neuroses has actually made us professionals at traveling with our kids. Not to brag or anything.

Sure, Stella and Sutton may *look* sweet and innocent in this photo, but let me assure you that if it weren't for my bag of tricks, they'd probably turn into airport-induced anarchists and I'd be booking a one-way ticket to Hawaii.

rule #1:

Don't make the mistake of buying carry-on luggage that your kids can't manage by themselves. Stella is eight and old enough now to handle a duffle bag on her own, but as for Sutton? He's five and *definitely* still requires a backpack with wheels...for the sake of my own sanity.

Because at some point, he *will* get tired of either wearing it or wheeling it and this gives us options. Except for the option of wheeling it on his Grandma Roberta's hardwood floors (of course).

For good measure, let your kids choose the design on their luggage so it feels more like a toy to them and less of a burden to you.

rule #2:

For the moms who don’t have the luxury of enlisting the help of their children, you will need a good travel stroller. It should be lightweight, compact, and easy to steer so you don't end up side-swiping the sign outside of a Cinnabon when weaving through the crowd.

TSA will tag the stroller like a carry-on bag and you can stow it in the front of the plane or in the overhead cabin until you land.

rule #3:

As far as I’m concerned, the issue of screen time means nothing at 10,000 feet in the air.

Stella and Sutton have separate iPads and headphones for travel trips. I'm sure some people would consider that spoiling them (and then proceed to call me out for it), but I consider it spoiling myself. There's no fighting over what to watch and it allows my husband, John and I to divide the rations equally.

rule #4:

Speaking of dividing rations equally, it's about time to talk about snacks, a topic that Joanna and I take *very* seriously. We're all about taking our precious time perusing the snack aisle in a Hudson News, except when our kids are involved...AND THEY CAN'T STOP TOUCHING THINGS.

Buy snacks ahead of time to pack in your carry-on bag. This will help you avoid another line and ultimately spending $10.25 on a bag of fruit snacks. For the sake of fewer crumbs and being a family that doesn't pass food across the aisle, choose individual serving packs or snack dispensers that are practically impossible to spill, both on the floor and in your bag.

rule #5:

Neck pillows are a travel necessity for any age. The only problem is that kids (especially mine) have the tendency to drop theirs on the germ-infested floor when they aren't wearing it, *technically* making it a bio-hazard. BUT this can all be avoided with a neck pillow that can clip or snap securely onto their bag.

*Also, keep ratios in mind when it comes to neck pillows for kids. Too big, and it can cause some unfortunate (but sometimes hilarious) blind spots. Sutton turned a sharp left into a wall once. Don't worry, he laughed too!

rule #6:

As far as I'm concerned, it's better to assume the worst than to assume the best. Think back to all of the times when you wished you had a certain item but it was nowhere in sight. For instance, wipes and an extra pair of underwear and pants for your potty-trained kid who momentarily forgot they were potty-trained. Store these items in designated pouches and label them so you don't waste precious time when it counts.

rule #7:

And last but not least, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stop apologizing to your fellow passengers for traveling with your children if your children have done anything to apologize for. In the meantime, free yourself of guilt, queue up the Paw Patrol, and order a glass of champagne.

xo, clea

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