1) Is it worth it to travel with kids?
I definitely think so, as long as the destination is somewhere you actually want to be. While doable, I wouldn't recommend taking your kids on an 8 hour road trip to the opening of the world's first lint museum, unless that's reeeeeeally something you're into. Because here's the thing you need to understand: traveling with kids is very possible, but it will take effort, finesse, and a flexible attitude (from you that is- don't expect this courtesy from your kids). If you expect it to be effortless, then you will want to shoot yourself before you even leave the driveway. However, if you simply accept the fact that it is going require some extra planning and effort, then I guarantee it can work out. Just know this- you can do everything right and still have a trip from hell. Sometimes it just happens. But don't write off the whole experience of traveling based on one bad trip!
2) How do you survive a long car ride?
I know that quality time is all the rage, but when it comes to long car rides my motto is do whatever necessary to make sure you all arrive with sanity still intact. I bring dvds on road trips and use them liberally, even going so far as to bribe the kids with them (as in, "whoever sits the quietest picks the next movie). And snacks- lots and lots of snacks. Anytime kids start getting fussy, I assure you that food will usually quell the beasts. As far as infants go, I'm sorry to say but you are on their payroll, not the other way around. Just get it in your head that you WILL have to make several stops for things like diaper explosions (if you haven't yet had one of these, you can guarantee you will experience your first on a long road trip), breast/bottle feeds, and the occasional need for fresh air. There really are lots of ways to make a trip go smooth, but really the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to MENTALLY PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE FACT THAT IT WILL TAKE YOU HOURS LONGER THAN YOU PLANNED, YOUR CAR WILL BE TRASHED, AND YOU MAY HAVE TO DO THINGS YOU SWORE YOU'D NEVER DO AS A PARENT JUST TO SURVIVE. Got it? On a practical note, have the following within arms reach: wipes, tissues, snacks, garbage bags, and change of clothes for all parties.
3) What about airplanes?
I did take an airplane ride with a one-year old, and it went very smoothly. It just as easily could have gone horribly though. Here's the thing with planes- you are in a confined space which you cannot leave and you are surrounded by total strangers who don't care about little Junior being upset because his schedule is all messed up. So my advice? Do whatever you need to do to avoid a kid meltdown. Literally. Bring candy, bring gameboys, let them play with your iPhone- trust me, a few hour plane ride is not long enough to undo years of good parenting, so just suck it up and do what ya gotta do. I've seen articles in magazines about parents who make little gift bags for the people sitting next to them on the airplane- the gift bags have things like gum and earplugs and a cute little note begging for some sympathy if little Junior gets out of hand. It think that's a great idea and will probably earn you some brownie points- but not enough to actually receive sympathy if Junior does in fact freak out, so keep that in mind.
This is the part of the speech where I told you to just accept the fact that it is going to take a little extra work on your part. You have to plan ahead and bring whatever you need to in order to make the situation work. When we stay at hotels, I pack a child safety bag with things like outlet covers, cabinet locks, doorknob locks, etc. I also bring a pack-n-play because that is a really easy way to keep a baby contained and thus safe. If you are staying at a house, the same rules apply. Bring a booster seat, a pack-n-play, a portable exersaucer- whatever you think will help you keep baby occupied and contained. Yes, your car will be packed to the high heavens, but like I said- just accept the fact that traveling is different now.
I hope I haven't turned you off to traveling! Honestly, I have had almost all good experiences mainly because I was mentally adjusted to what it was going to be like. We did have one time where we were all at a hotel and the baby just screamed all night. Literally. It was so awful and we got no sleep and the people next door hated us! That is one of those times where there is nothing you can do- stuff happens and you cannot predict kids! But I didn't write off traveling and we since have had several good traveling experiences. As with all things parenting, do your best, expect glitches and plan changes, and ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES!!