These past few weeks included an 11 hour road trip to California, and also flying alone with the kids to Washington D.C. We had sooo much fun, but traveling is always a little stressful with little ones. I'm no pro on the topic, and I only have two kids (high fives all around to the mums who travel with lots of kids), but these are things that I've found really helpful these past couple of years!
SNACKS ON SNACKS ON SNACKS
In my humble opinion, there's no such thing as too many snacks. Snacks keep them busy, and new snacks keep them excited. Jack is in such a wiggly and curious stage right now, so snacks kept him preoccupied and happy for a good chunk of time. I don't normally give them lots of packaged snacks, but traveling is a different story. I brought Annie's bunny snacks (I always buy a big box from Costco), organic apple sauce (also from Costco), organic fruit snacks (from Costco), Square Organics bars (use "goodfortheswole" for 20% off), Happy Family superfood puffs (Piper and Jack LOOOOVE these), and Plum Organics baby food for Jack.
KEEP BAG ORGANIZED
Trying to find things in the diaper bag while one of the kids is crying makes me 1000x more stressed. I organized everything so I knew exactly where it all was, and had easy access to it. Piper has a little backpack (I got it on Amazon and she's obsessed with it), that I packed all of their toys, books, and activities in. In my diaper bag, I bought some Stasher bags (the 10" ones), and packed all of the apple sauce and baby food in one of them, and the other packaged snacks in another. I also had their bottles in my bag, wipes, diapers, Jack's blanket (that I also use as a nursing cover), a change of clothes for both kids (because...you know), my wallet, keys, and charger.
Going through security at the airport is so stressful with little ones, so having all of the liquids, and food pouches already ready to pull out for them to check helps a lot! **I made this mistake when I flew with Piper, so don't let your baby fall asleep in the carrier until your through security. They make you get the baby out and take off the carrier regardless if they're asleep or not.
I don't let Pipes watch much TV but, again, traveling is a different story (everyone is totally different, so do whatever works for you guys). On long drives, I download shows on Netflix for Piper to watch, and she was perfectly content. I also downloaded some shows on my phone for the plane. I went to the dollar store, and let her pick out a few new toys that she was excited about. I also got a bunch of post-it notes that she loved colouring on and sticking everywhere. THESE reusable gel stickers are the best for windows, too!
CAR SEAT & STROLLERS
When flying, they are required to courtesy check your car seat and strollers for you. I always check my stroller at the gate, because it's nice to be able to transport the kids around the airport in (I bring the baby carrier as well though, because it comes in handy once you check the stroller at the gate). Both kids napped it in for a couple of hours during connecting flights which was a life saver! It's also nice to throw all of the carry-on stuff under the stroller. I always check the car seat with my bags, so I don't have to lug it around, but a lot of people like bringing it to the gate, and take it on the plane if there are empty seats available.
Speaking of empty seats - when you get to the gate, ask if there are empty seats available. They usually give adults who are flying alone with children first priority of those extra rows. With all of the flights to and from D.C, they moved me and the kids onto our own row without me asking (probably because no one else wanted to sit by us haha). I've asked before though, and they've been more than happy rearranged seats to make it easier for us.
This one is more for road trips, but I nursed (and changed diapers) whenever we got gas, regardless of if he needed it or not. It kept him full and happy, and it was better than letting him get too hungry in-between stops. For flying, I know everyone knows this, but nursing during take off and landing helps prevent their ears from hurting from the altitude change.