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Sunday, July 8, 2012 - Page updated at 07:00 p.m.
Cutting the hassles on family trips
By Michelle Higgins
The New York Times
With summer here, families are heading out on getaways. But figuring out all the details, especially if you're flying somewhere, can be critical for a smooth trip. Here are some lessons I have learned over the years, both from other travelers and through my own experience.
Don't pack what
you can get there
Leave the extra formula, suntan lotion and Cheerios at home. Any extra cash you may spend will be offset by what you save in checked-bag fees and overall inconvenience.
Besides, you are inevitably going to forget something and have to make a run to the local grocery or convenience store anyway.
The more you can leave behind the better, but there are times when taking along a travel bed or a foldable highchair is worth it. For example, when renting a house with friends, my husband and I packed a borrowed Baby Bjorn Travel Crib for our daughter, then a year old. Selling for about $220, the bed (which collapses into a compact carry-on that weighs just 11 pounds) isn't cheap, but it is convenient.
Our friends, who have a 3-year-old, packed the KidCo PeaPod Plus travel bed — a pop-up tent with a blowup mattress that weighs 6.9 pounds and folds into a convenient carry-on case.
Don't stuff everything
into one checked bag
Traveling by plane? Airlines are generally losing fewer checked bags these days. But that's little consolation if you're one of the unlucky ones whose bag goes missing, especially if all the children's clothes, gear and toys are in it.
As a precaution, pack half of those items in one checked bag and half in another or in your carry-on. At a minimum, especially if you're traveling with small children, take a change of clothes onboard for the child and yourself. That way, when she spills cranberry juice all over you, or her diaper leaks, you have options.
on airline tickets
When you are trying to stick to a budget it's tempting to book the cheaper connecting flight or convince yourself that you don't need to spend $25 extra each way to check that portable travel bed.
The nonstop flight and checked bag fees will add to your expenses, but it's often not worth the risk of missing a connection or the effort involved in schlepping all those carry-on bags.
You can quickly turn a luggage rack into an activity gym for an infant by hooking some dangling toys on it. Play-Doh is a godsend when traveling with toddlers who are too young to sit through an in-flight movie and too old to nap in your lap.
When interest in that runs out, order ice and extra stirring straws. That kept our daughter entertained for hours after she quickly tired of all the books, stickers and other games we had packed for a two-flight trip to Ecuador when she was about a year old.
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