Here are some helpful tips that's really helped me while traveling with kids.
1. Pack your patience and take a Santa Claus approach. In other words, make a list and check it twice! Make sure you start this list at least a week in advance and update it as the week goes on. I save a list on my phone "notes" app. That way, as I complete tasks, I add a check box next to it. This ensure that the night before, I am not stressed and also ensure that I have all my key essentials.
2. Call TSA to find out what the liquid requirements are for kids. Pack enough food for 2 days incase you get stranded or something happens. Also pack ice packs if you can fit them in your cooler bag just incase. Since I travel with breastmilk, this is important for me. Note: If you are a nursing/pumping mom, be sure to pack a nursing cover. It ensures that you can express your milk in most places without feeling too self conscious. I have been able to pump on a plane multiple times and also nursed JOE on the plane when she was younger. Also, if you are a pumping mom, pack an extra pump. You just never know what could happen. I have a manual pump in my car and always travel with an extra pump just incase.
We got these ice packs with my medela freestyle pack and it has been so helpful. We travel with it everywhere!
3. Pack entertainment for the kids. We got a DVD player and kids headphones. We purchased the headphones a long time ago when JOE was about to take her first trip at 6-weeks old. It is adjustable and has really been worth the money spent.
4. Have a fully stocked diaper bag. Complete with extra clothes, snacks, body wash, lotion, wipes, mini first aid kit, hand sanitizer (kids touch EVERYTHING!) etc. Also take some cloth wipes for stains. You might need it. Our diaper bag comes complete with lined areas for storing bottles as well as wipes and a changing pad. Very handy!
Plus carrying around a tired and sleeping 30+ lb kid can make for a very tired arm and back.The goal of the trip is to relax afterall and not get more stressed out.
6. Pack at least 3 extra sets of clothes for the kids. For example if you're staying for 5-days, pack enough clothes for 8 days. Same goes for diapers, underwear or pull ups. You never know when things might change and you could be forced to stay longer or be stuck at an airport. Personally, for myself I also pack 2 extra items just incase. Kids aren't the only ones who can get messy :-).
7. Always have your phone fully charged! In this day and age, this is so important. Especially when traveling with kids. Not only can it serve as a form of entertainment for the kids, you can also use it in case of an emergency to get help. There are also so many great apps nowadays on most smart phones that you can use to search for fun activities close to your location.
8. Keep local currency (preferably small bills) on hand. You will need it. I am not advocating traveling with large sums of money because that could make you a target. Instead have some cash on hand incase you need to cab it somewhere or you need to get food or something not readily available. Using a credit card is not always practical depending on where you are. It is always good when traveling with kids to have some cash that you can use at any time.
9. Pack a goodie bag for the kids. I call this a "bribe bag" to encourage good behavior. Mine includes candies, toys, cookies, etc. JOE loves to negotiate for what she wants. Some people say "this is rewarding bad behavior." I look at it as a way of encouraging good behavior. Plus there is nothing like a screaming kid on a plane or an enclosed area. There's only so much you can get done when a child is screaming their head off or refusing to cooperate. Sometimes, having a bribe on hand can help calm them down :-).
Traveling and learning about new places with kids is beautiful as long as you make it so. Perception goes a long way. If you see it as burdensome, then obviously, it can be. But if you keep an open mind, you'll learn that traveling with kids can be just as much fun as traveling with other adults.