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Travel easily with kids in tow

Many people enjoy traveling. The opportunity to spend free time experiencing other cultures or visiting faraway lands appeals to many people's inquisitive and adventurous natures, and it's no wonder retirees often devote so much time traveling the world.

Yet traveling as a carefree retiree and traveling as a parent to young children are two entirely different things; and parents' love of travel is often put to the test when the kids are in tow. But traveling with kids doesn't have to be a logistical nightmare. The following are a few travel tips for parents about to go on vacation with their little ones.

* Check your flight status. Flights are commonly rescheduled, which can be inconvenient for adult travelers who don't have a couple of kids tagging along. For parents, though, extra time waiting at the airport with kids can be stressful and tough to handle. Before leaving the house, check your flight status to ensure you won't be spending extra time sitting and waiting at the airport and looking for things to quell your child's boredom. When booking the flight, sign up for flight updates that are sent directly to your mobile phone. These will keep you posted and save you the hassle of going online and checking your flight status every few hours.

* Check in ahead of time. Many airlines allow passengers to check in ahead of time, typically within 24 to 36 hours of the flight's scheduled departure. When kids are coming along, the less time you spend in line at the airport the better, and checking in ahead of time can save you from waiting in long check-in lines at the airport.

* Confirm what you're allowed to bring on board. Parents of very young children, be it infants or toddlers, should confirm what they're allowed to pack and bring on board in advance of their flight. Sterilized water, for instance, might be acceptable to bring on board, but the airline might insist that it be stored in a baby bottle. Contact the airline a few days before you plan to pack to learn the company's guidelines. Different airlines might have slightly different guidelines.

* Explore the airport. Depending on if you will be flying a domestic or international flight, you might be spending a considerable amount of time waiting to board or even dealing with a layover. These waiting periods and layovers are boring for adults and kids alike, so use the airport to your advantage and go exploring. Kids are often fascinated by airplanes, so take them to gates or terminals where flights are about to depart.

* Separate kids on the plane. If you have two or more children in tow, avoid seating them next to one another on the plane. This can lead to spats that will almost certainly upset your fellow passengers. Let Mom sit with one child and Dad with another, and give kids the window seat so they can entertain themselves by looking out the window when the plane is in flight.

* Bring your own entertainment. Kids are going to get bored on the flight, so be sure they have plenty to do while in the air. Bring along a tablet with video capability to keep kids occupied with a movie or television show. This will help reduce the restlessness and boredom they're likely to feel in the air. Or buy kids a new book or magazine at the airport so they have something new to occupy their time until the plane lands.

Traveling with children is seldom easy. But a few tricks of the trade can make the trip go more smoothly.