The Happiness Project

Eight Things To Carry When Traveling With Kids

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Eight tips for what to carry when you travel with kids.

In general, I aim to travel light, but I’ve learned over the years that this generally isn’t a good strategy as a parent. If anything teaches you the happiness value of preparation, it’s parenthood. The right supplies can mean the difference between misery and good cheer.

If you’re traveling with a baby, of course you need a whole different set of supplies. My children are out of that stage, and now I never go on a trip without at least most of these items:

1. A bag of almonds . These are for me as much as for my children.

2. A bottle of water . (Usually I’m violently opposed to bottled water, but I now concede that it’s good to have a bottle when you travel.)

3. Novelty candy . By this, I mean a candy that’s odd (e.g., Pop Rocks, candy spray) or takes a long time to eat (candy necklace) or fun in some way (Pez). I save this to whip out if my kids get crabby. Chocolate or anything that can melt is a risky choice.

4. Coloring book and markers , but remember to check that the markers aren’t all dried out. Just learned this the hard way. ( Spend out ! Don’t put a dud marker back in the box. A metaphor for life.)

5. Books .

6. Wipes . Not just for babies anymore.

7. Camera . Remember to charge it. Learned that the hard way, too.

8. We finally caved and bought a portable DVD player . This is a great invention. I actually finished Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth on the plane while my daughters were transfixed by My Neighbor Totoro .

Irrelevant note to entrepreneurs out there: I think the scratch-and-sniff market has been sorely overlooked. Growing up, my sister had a collection of scratch-and-sniff stickers, and we still have fun going through her big pile. The Sweet Smell of Christmas is one of our favorite picture books. Happiness is a great scratch-and-sniff!

* Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just e-mail me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com . (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.