I’m sure many of us have heard horror stories about being locked in a car or plane for hours with cranky children. “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” “Megan is ‘watching’ me!” “I have to go to the bathroom–RIGHT NOW!” There are endless cases in which children can make us nervous when we travel. Here are some tips that can help smooth out travel woes…

Create a TRAVEL SURVIVAL KIT packed with small travel toys and games. Wear a bright backpack or tote bag dedicated to the purpose. Include age-appropriate toys, such as a etched sketch for preschool-age drawing fun, a magnetic letter board for a toddler, stickers, puzzles, or joke books for a grade-schooler. Interactive games can keep siblings happy, like Brain Quest cards with age-appropriate riddles and questions, or even a simple deck of cards. Today, portable DVD players and portable video games can keep kids trouble-free and busy for hours. If you are carrying electronics like Game-Gear, be sure to bring extra batteries.

Snacks can be healthy carrot sticks, crackers, pretzels, cheese, or fruit. Try to keep the sugar content low for less hyperactive children. Choose juice boxes and bottled water instead of canned soda.

Take CD’s along with your favorite music, as well as familiar music that you can all sing together on the go.

Make sure your child uses the bathroom every opportunity: before leaving home, at the airport before boarding the plane, immediately after eating on the plane (lines for the few bathrooms can mean a long wait) , before getting on the bus to go to the hotel or a sightseeing trip.

If you’re going on a beach vacation or cruise, of course, suntan lotion is a must, as are hats and sunglasses. Also carry a skin cream in case of sunburn. Be sure to include fun bandages and a small first aid kit. Include some stomach pills, such as Gravol, for car, bus, or plane rides, and medicine for constipation or diarrhea.

Another item to take on your travels would be a history book or facts about the place you are visiting to keep the child engaged. Play games asking them if they can find the historical site you are visiting in the book, or an eye spy game to locate various types of trees, flowers, or birds. Even allowing them a child-proof disposable camera to take their own photos would be helpful in keeping the child interested.

Make sure that the children have had enough rest before the trip. Tired children are cranky children. And limit your intake of exotic foods to prevent stomach problems. It’s good for children to try and enjoy different fruits in another country, but too much papaya or avocado can wreak havoc on even the most mature stomach.

Many resorts are kid-friendly, and kids can be a family traveler’s best friend. These ‘kid-oriented’ venues offer everything a child or parent could want, from kid-focused cafeterias (serving pizza, burgers and mac and cheese), kiddie pools, special computer labs, sports and activities , to group games (where children can interact with others in their same age group). Many of these family resorts also offer babysitting services that allow mom and dad some quiet time.

Take a special security blanket or teddy bear with you to make traveling less scary for younger children. Travel pillows, window shades, and a warm quilt can increase your child’s comfort level when sleeping in a car or on a plane and reduce the blues of travel.

Traveling with children does not have to be a nightmare. With careful planning, plenty of rest, and controlled activities, parents and children can enjoy vacations together.