It's the time of year for traveling. Whether you're going by bus, car, plane or train, if you have kids, you've got plenty to do to prepare. Parenting Squad is here to help.

Safety First

When traveling, your No. 1 concern, as in everyday life, is the safety of your children. Make sure car seats are installed correctly, and know the rules of flying and riding with children. Never put your child in the aisle seat because she is likely to stick her arms out and be hurt by a serving cart or an adult walking by. Teach your child whom to look for if she gets lost and needs help, including police officers, airport workers, and security guards. Never let your child go to the restrooms or any shops alone, and dress her in bright-colored clothing that does not feature her name. Make ID cards for your children that include any medical information and your cell phone number. Additional safety tips can be found at missingkids.com.

Pack the Essentials

Make your lists and check them three times. Having a list for each family member, including everything from toothbrush to medications, will help you stay on task. Pack for one person at a time to avoid becoming sidetracked. Some items can be easily replaced if forgotten, but your child's prescription will be difficult to get.

To avoid paying extra if you are flying, get each child a carry-on size bag like the Trunki. It provides storage and fun while waiting for your flight. If your child requires medication, you must tell security about it, especially if it is liquid. Don't bring along bottles that are missing the prescription information and be sure to have supporting documentation (i.e., a letter from doctor) in case you have any trouble.

Bring Entertainment

No one likes a long day of traveling, especially a child with no sense of time. No matter how you are traveling, bringing along entertainment will help the trip go faster for your kids and you. Think books, travel board games, handle-held electronic games (not good for planes), no-mess art supplies, and even a portable DVD player with a variety of flicks. Don't think of it as spoiling your child; think of it as spoiling yourself with less whining and more peacefulness.

Get Comfortable

Traveling can be uncomfortable. It's hard to relax and catch some Z's when there's no way to rest your head, or your ears are clogged or hurting. Bring your child's favorite comfort items along for the trip to make him feel more at home, including a comfy blanket and pillow (especially if you're traveling by car or bus).

If you are flying, help your child with the pain of pressure changes. Bring gum for older kids, and give your younger child pain reliever like acetaminophen about half an hour before landing. And avoid multiple flights and layovers to help with ear pain, and your sanity.

Checklist for Packing for the Kids

  • Clothing. Bring an outfit for each day plus two extras in case of any accidental messes: underwear, socks, shirts, pants, skirts, leggings, swimsuit, and pajamas. Plus hats, mittens, scarf, and boots if it's winter.
     
  • Bathroom Items. Make sure to bring toothbrushes, toothpaste, travel shampoo, and travel soap. If you plan to carry them on the plane, be sure they are the right size.
     
  • Comfort Items. It always helps kids to have a favorite teddy bear and a comfy blanket and pillow.
     
  • Entertainment. Bring whatever will keep your child occupied including books, movies, no-mess art, electronic games, and snacks.
     
  • Safety. Include ID cards and plan a good traveling outfit of bright, comfortable clothes and sneakers.
     
  • Medications and Medical Equipment. Pack prescriptions in your carry-on with documentation and check the rules for traveling with equipment. Bring this card with you too if your child has a special need.