11 Essentials for Traveling with Kids

Today, Rene shares 11 essentials that help keep her kids happy and entertained while traveling:

Traveling with kids can be challenging, but if you're prepared with plenty of activities (and snacks!) you can keep your little travel companions happy, which will keep you happy. Here are my favorite sanity-saving essentials (aside from the usual diapering items) that will make the trek easier for everyone.

1. Comfortable headphones will help kids tune out to in-flight entertainment (with kid-friendly volume control) or block excess noise while they're trying to sleep.

2. Magnetic play sets are great for travel. Few dropped and lost pieces = good.

3. Melissa & Doug's Water Wow! books offer a simple and mess-free way for younger kids to 'paint' while on-the-go.

4. My kids love their lovies and these smaller scale Pillow Pets double as a pillow or snuggly companion, and are easy to stow away.

5. A travel lap desk keeps small toys and crayons contained and provides a surface for coloring and eating.

6. Toss pureed snack squeeze pouches into your carry-on for snack emergencies. Even bigger kids (and parents) won't fuss about slurping down a tasty snack on the run.

7. Load up your phone or tablet with cool apps to calm tempers during long flights or layovers. Here's a roundup of great apps for kids; the Cool Mom Tech team also regularly updates this Pinterest board of cool apps for kids.

8. After you get through security, fill your reusable (preferably indestructible) sippy or sport water bottles at the water fountain. You'll save a fortune in bottled water costs, and hydrated travelers are happy travelers!

9. Classic Colorforms are a great, compact activity that won't damage surfaces, like plane or car windows.

10. Origami projects will keep big kids (and adults!) occupied and whittle away at travel time. (And boredom.)

11. Good books are great for passing travel time, especially for independent readers who can lose themselves in a juicy chapter book! Check out these roundups of 50+ kid approved books, picture books with strong female leads, books for boys, books for strong and smart girls, and 80 books for your booklist (because hey, maybe with the above recommendations, you'll have time to kick back and enjoy a novel!).

Anything else a must-have when you travel with kids? Feel free to share them in the comments! And if you're looking for more travel tips and inspiration, prowl the travel archives!

Image credits: per product links above