Various colored rolls of masking tape are great for entertaining children on long flights or drives. It sticks to most surfaces but doesn't hurt them, and it can be used for everything from tick-tack-toe to tape drawings and sculptures.
Write an email every day to someone back home and CC yourself. It's a much better way to create a journal. Get your children to do it too.
Keep a duplicate set of phone chargers in your carry-on bag.
Take pajamas for a long international flight. I am often upgraded, where pajamas are provided; in that case, I can keep the new ones in their package for home or to give to a family member. And if I'm in economy, I'm very comfortable for the flight, don't look out of place when so many are wandering around in their PJs, and I can change back into my barely worn clothes for the landing.
Deborah M. Gray
Do not do everything for your children when you travel, including — and especially — in a foreign country. Teach them how to use the currency and have them make their own deals on purchases. Take them to markets and have them buy their own food. Have them order for themselves at a restaurant. Allow them to play with other children as you watch close by. All these experiences will make them skillful and adept travelers who are not afraid of what is "foreign."
For road trips, pack instant oatmeal and a lightweight hotpot (along with paper bowls and plastic spoons) to make breakfast in your room. It's convenient, inexpensive and low in calories. Granola bars and applesauce cups are good too, and may save you from raiding the minibar late at night.
If you're traveling with a companion, one of you can jump in a taxi and lead the driver of your rental car in the direction you need to go. I do this and have my husband follow in the car. No stress, no missed directions.
Always take along a few clothespins. They come in handy for everything from hanging clothes to dry to keeping a beach towel on a lounge chair on a breezy day.
Relax. You know you are going to have to wait in line at the airport, so make the best of it. I people-watch. You would be surprised how quickly minutes go by when you watch those around you. Wear slip-on shoes for ease. Most things, including my purse, fit inside my carry-on, so I have only one item to deal with. And while you're at it, feel lucky that you have the ability to stand in line and you have the money to fly somewhere. How great is that?