Make it Fun
It's unclear which is harder: persuading a small, antsy person to sit still on a long car ride or to sleep on a plane. Minimize mayhem with kid-distracting schemes.
Bring brain candy. Take DVDs, CDs, and books, both well-loved and brand-new. On a road trip from California to New York and back again, Pearl Yu of Menlo Park, California, discovered that her daughter, Avery, was spellbound by a homemade tape of Mom reading stories. "I also taped Avery singing songs and talking, which she loved," Yu says. Save the never-before-seen stuff for moments of drama -- it may get you out of jail free.
Make a take-along toy box. "My son loves to get in my purse," says Aimee Moore of Santa Clarita, California. "On trips, I bring a bag with all kinds of compartments, 'packing' it with a key-chain flashlight, fake credit cards, an old cell phone, and animal crackers. I keep the purse hidden until he's on the brink of a meltdown. He'll spend thirty to sixty quiet minutes exploring it."
Fall back on simple. Think you've run out of tricks? Desperate times may just call for the mundane. One miraculous time, an 18-month-old we know twisted the lid of an empty plastic makeup jar on and off for two hours while the plane was stuck on a runway in a thunderstorm.