Traveling with kids does not have to be an experience to be feared. You, and your youngest traveling tagalongs can make the best of even the longest journey. Keep reading for tips and tricks on how to make your exciting excursions a success.

Plan ahead but be flexible. Traveling with children means you may have to make unexpected stops along the way. Timmy has to go to the bathroom, and Susie wants to visit every roadside attraction. Plan your journey to include plenty of pit stops if you’re traveling by car and give yourself a little extra padding timewise for when you can’t stick to your preferred itinerary.

Look for the best deals. If your children are over the age of 2, you’re going to have to pay for their flight and possibly an extra fee at your hotel, cabin, or condo. Your children won’t care how much you paid, but knowing you aren’t dipping into their college fund can make the trip a lot less stressful for mom and dad.

Relieve ear pain on the airplane. One of the most uncomfortable aspects of flying, especially for children whose eustachian tubes have yet to fully develop, is the ascent. The eustachian tubes regulate air pressure and can pop, causing significant ear pain when changing altitudes. USA Today explains how to relieve ear pressure pain, but talk to your pediatrician to make sure your child is healthy enough to travel before you even book the flight.

Make your meals car-friendly. Children between the ages of 4 and 17 are perpetually hungry. They will suddenly realize they’re starving while you’re going down a stretch of interstate with no food in sight. When the kids are hungry, they are cranky and being stuck in the car with a “hangry” toddler, tween, or teen is no fun for anyone. Grab a cooler, pack a few vehicle-friendly dinners and keep an arsenal of non-melting snacks and bottled water at hand. A few healthy options include vegetables and hummus, PB&J sandwiches, wraps and protein bento boxes. Plexus offers more than a dozen car-friendly food ideas.

Take them there before the trip. Of course, you can’t get your child to their destination without the travel required to arrive. But you can give them a glimpse of your vacation destination. Most local bookstores offer an extensive travel section that should be of some help. You can also print out maps or request travel brochures to give them something to read about the destination. We can’t guarantee they won’t ask “are we there yet?” but at least they will know where there is.

Let them have a say. Kids love to vacation, but they hate to travel. Ask their opinion when you’re planning your family trip – at least allow each child to select an activity. By giving them a voice, they may be less inclined to complain about a long car or plane ride.

Don’t be intimidated by the preparation involved in family travel. After a few trips, you’ll be an expert and will know exactly how to handle even the most car-weary child. Traveling creates memories that will last a lifetime – memories that are worth every bit of the hassles you’ll incur.