At home, I swear by regular soap and water, but on trips (especially flights), it's a different story. I used to get sick every time we'd been on a flight, but once I started bringing the anti-bacterial wipes with me, that does not happen anymore. Bring a big tub of them, and then use them to wipe hands and any surfaces you feel are suspect.
I've read rumours that the rules for bringing liquids on board airplanes might be relaxed sometime in the near future, but it hasn't happened yet. Each one of your liquids (including gels and creams) have to be in a container that is 100 ml (3 oz) or smaller, placed inside a clear ziploc bag, and one of those bags are allowed per person. Not doing this properly will likely lead to delays in getting through security, and that is never fun.
When you're traveling with kids, it's sometimes important to forget about the big-deal sightseeing you want to do, and instead look at the small things your kids see that you might miss. On our trip to Maui in 2009, I probably would have never even known that a herd of snails passed by our condo every morning, unless my kids had alerted me to this amazing fact.
On flights and on other trips (in the car for example), it's good to be prepared for messy eaters. For example, I bring:
- antibacterial wet-wipes
- reusable juice-boxes for drinks (great for preventing spills on planes and in cars)
- a change of clothes for each child (definitely on flights, and on longer car trips as well)
- a roll of paper towels in the car
- a bib for babies wherever you go
- reusable snack containers with lids that the kids can easily open and close on their own.
Every day, whether we're at home or traveling, and regardless of the weather, I try to make time for some time outside with the kids: a walk, a hike, a visit to the beach... It's the best method to improve my mood and my kids' mood that I have found.
I love backpacks. They make great hand-luggage if you're traveling by plane with kids because they free up your hands, and they're great when you're hiking or just going to the park with your kids and need to bring some supplies as well.
Going outside, and finding something to do for your kids doesn't always have to involve travel, or even a car-ride. If you have a backyard, it can be a terrific destination for your kids: trampolines, swings, sand-boxes, a play pool, and outdoor toys can make it fun. Or you can watch the birds, lay on your back and look at the clouds or the planes passing overhead. Or why not put the tent up for a night?
On long flights, getting some sleep is the best way to pass the time. It will also make your kids less cranky for the rest of the trip. Try to get your kids comfy by taking off their shoes, finding them a pillow and a blanket, and cuddling them for a bit. And if they sleep: take the chance to get some sleep yourself. Even a short power-nap is better than nothing.
In the summer, I could live at the beach with my kids. Sand and water to explore and play in, the relaxing sounds of waves... I don't need much to have a wonderful time with my kids there. Sunscreen, bottles of water, snacks, blankets to sit on, and some buckets and shovels are the only supplies we really need.
Indoor play-centers with slides, mazes to climb through, ball-rooms, trampolines, and whatever else is provided can be rather crazy and chaotic places. However, if the weather is terrible (for example, when we visited Sweden a couple of years ago in December, and it was below -20 Celsius for days and days), they can be just what you need to let the kids burn off some energy and have some serious, active fun.