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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

On the Road: Rules of the Road

Traveling with kids

ON THE ROAD: Part One (of 5)

Compliments of: "Travel With Children" by Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet Publications), 155 Filbert Street, Suite 251, Oakland, CA 94607.

RULES OF THE ROAD:

GO BABY GO

Let's begin this discussion with a basic truth. Traveling with your infant is a bit of a hassle and requires more gear and planning than traveling with your older kids. Still, traveling with babies is one of my favorite ways to go, since we both get right-in-the-now, undivided time together. Moreover, infants' charm is negotiable worldwide, making all your travel plans easier and more fun. And, of course, because I can never get enough of my little ones.

BEDDING DOWN

No one sleeps likes a baby, and babies generally sleep very well on the road. The rocking, lurching, chugging motions usually knock them right out. Still, having a familiar bed or bed gear reassures infants and small children. For infants, we travel with a small portable crib that can fit under our legs on public transportation, or on our laps. We've also used (and like) little zip-up buntings that keep baby in a cozy, manageable bundle.

By the time baby is six months, it's time to graduate to a portable crib. Our favorites are the Evenflow (easiest to set up and take down) and the Graco, which umbrellas up and fits into a canvas traveling case. The Graco is heavier and takes a bit longer to set up (it's still easy, though) but it's quite a bit larger, making it suitable to do double duty for those outings to grandma's house or as an extra playpen at home. Portable cribs are also very handy for taking to the beach or pool.

A familiar blanket and toy can make all the difference for traveling children. As they get older, they can continue to treasure their favorite blanket. (Our 15-year-old's favorite blanket now resides on a chair in his bedroom where he frequently uses it as a lap warmer while working on his computer!)

GETTING AROUND

We like child-carrying backpacks for traveling with kids up to 3 years old. The Gerry has an inner sling for younger ones that can be dispensed with as they grow. We've even used the Gerry for very small babies, fitting a receiving blanket around baby for stability. We also travel with the lightest umbrella stroller we can find, which we push right onto the plane and store in the overhead compartment. Wheeling the baby or toddler aboard can really save your back on a half-mile long concourse.

We find it much more convenient and cost-effective to take our own car seats with us on vacation. They are also handy for keeping junior in one place in the hotel rooms during feedings and quiet time.

DIAPERS

I have a hard time justifying disposable diapers at home on ecological grounds, but while on the road, they're just too convenient to resist. We also travel with at least a dozen cloth diapers for when we settle down in a spot. Disposable diapers can be very expensive in developing countries, so we recommend starting out with a good supply from home. Don't forget the rubber pants, and carry a packet of wipes and rash cream in your day bag to make diaper changes easier. We like creams containing Vitamins A and D because they're good for sunburn and other skin irritations as well.

CLOTHING

Keep it simple and keep it to the minimum, for both you and baby. You can expect to be doing some laundry every few days anyway, so why burden yourself with too many changes of clothes? We usually figure on four changes of clothes, two sets of pajamas, one dress-up outfit and an all purpose jacket, suited to the climate you're traveling in. Add socks, underwear, one pair of shoes and a swimsuit, and you're ready to go. For maximum convenience, take mix-and-match separates in dark and bright colors. In hot climates, all cotton is definitely more comfortable. Be sure to bring a hat that protects baby from the sun. Pack the bags, and then don't worry about it. If you find you're missing some crucial item, you can always pick it up along the way, for a more intimate souvenir. (I treasure my Irish underwear!)

TOYS

Take a few small favorites and maybe a favorite book. When those toys have lost their appeal, stop in at a local toy store and buy new playthings along the way. Check them out closely, however, as safety standards vary.

(Don't forget to check out this entire article - Parts 1 through 5.)

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