As the wife of an airline pilot, there are two things I've learned to do pretty well: pack lightly and travel with kids. Here are my tips for both:

Packing lightly:

1. Pack in rolls. Lay your clothes out starting with the largest items, like pants and dresses, and work your way to the smaller items like t-shirts and shorts. Spread them out full length, and fold over to make them as narrow as you need them for your bag. I like to make everything about the width of a pair of nice pants laid on their side, or around 8-10 inches. As the items get smaller, stagger them all the way down the length of your largest garment. You don't want everything stacked up at the beginning of the roll. Keep the thickness even. Keep in mind that the things on the outside of the roll will get less wrinkled than the things on the inside, so start with your nicer clothes and work your way to the more casual clothes. Next, take your small items, like socks and underwear, and smash them all together, then places them at the top of your roll. Then you just grab the clothes underneath and start rolling. Press down hard and do this on a hard surface to get the most compression. It might take some experimenting to see how many clothes to put in each roll in order to fit them in your bag efficiently. This works great, and you will be amazed at how many clothes you can fit into a small space. If you're going on the kind of trip where you'll only be spending a few days in each location, roll a few days worth of clothes together in several small rolls, as you have to take the entire roll out and unroll it in order to get at anything. FYI - the rolling videos I found on the internet roll each piece of clothing individually, which will end up with a lot more wrinkles and take up a lot more space. Don't do it that way. Watch MY VIDEO instead.

 Roll Packing

2. When choosing outfits, start with the shoes. Black or brown/tan. Maybe navy. This is your dressy shoe color. If you can fit a more casual pair of shoes, like sandals, keep them in the same color family. Then limit your clothing choices to pieces that will match your shoes. Interchangeable skirts, pants and and tops will help you get different looks for each day without having to bring your whole wardrobe. I always wear my athletic shoes on the plane as they're the bulkiest as well as the most comfortable for walking through busy airports and transit centers.

3. Travel kits. Lots of tiny, reusable bottles not only make it easier to get through security, they save a lot of space. Perfect a basic make-up look that will work for most days, and only bring one or two fancy items like a bright lipstick or glittery eye shadow if you'll be doing something special. I love mineral make-up that only requires concealer, powder, blush and eyeliner to look great. Get those in travel sizes if you can. And don't forget nail clipper, emory board, bandaids and anti-bacterial ointment. Even if you don't get a scrape, bandaids can help with any blisters from miles of sightseeing, too!

4. Pack one change of clothes for each family member in a carry on. Luggage gets lost and delayed. Sh*t happens. You want to have a change of clothes to wear while you wash the ones you traveled in, at the very least. In general, anything you can't live without or would be very expensive to replace, put in your carry on. And with kids, spills happen, potty accidents happen, things get torn... might want to make that two changes for the under five set.


Travelling with kids:

1. Embrace technology. However strict you are with the screen time at home, let it go. Think back to when you were a kid and you drove your parents crazy with the "are-we-there-yets", and count your blessings. A Kindle, an iPad, a handheld game, whatever will entertain your child for the longest time wins. You won't destroy their brains with a couple extra days of screen time. Just be thankful you live in the 21st century. There are even games you can put on your own Kindle or phone for the youngest children.

2. Toddler are a challenge. Learn to deal with it. By far I found the most difficult time to travel with kids was between the age when they started walking, around a year, until they could talk fairly well--anywhere between 18 mos and 3 yrs old depending on the kid. Thing is, once they can walk, they want to do it all the time, and before they are capable of having a conversation, they don't understand why you aren't letting them! They hate being confined for any amount of time and will let their displeasure be well known. If you have a screamer on your hands, invest in a bunch of earplugs you can offer to surrounding passengers. Older kids will at least just tell you they're bored and complain a lot, but the toddlers... good luck!

3. Toys, snacks and bottles. For all ages up to about 10: have one new small toy or game to offer them for every hour or two you'll be in the air, along with a plethora of snacks. For babies who are still nursing/ bottle feeding, try to time their feedings for when you are taking off or landing so that they will be continually swallowing while you are changing altitude. This will help relieve the pressure in their ears and hopefully prevent the terrible screams of pain that generally accompany such pressure. (Special pilot tip: the pressure change will be much worse when you are taking off or landing closer to sea level. The air pressure in the airplane at cruising altitude is the same as it is when you are around 6000 ft. So if you're taking off from Denver and landing in Orange County on your way to Disneyland, the pressure won't be bad when you leave Denver, so the most important feeding to time will be the one when you land.)

4. Just get a leash. For walking kids under 4ish, they're the best. I know, before you had kids you thought leashes were ridiculous and demeaning and swore you'd never put your child on one. Hopefully your view has matured since then. Leashes actually offer kids a LOT more freedom than holding an adult's hand, and you don't have to lean over or be pulled on. Really, your back will thank you later. If you're child is really active and prone to dash off to investigate whatever shiny thing has caught their attention, this could literally be a lifesaver. If they'll stay put in an umbrella stroller, you can skip this one. If you're going to the Grand Canyon and they're under 6, please just do it.

Happy, safe travels! Promise they'll only be this age for a little while, and it gets easier with every passing year!