Tips for cruising with kids

1. If your toddler isn’t yet potty trained, she will not be allowed in the swimming pools on most cruise ships. When we took a cruise last year, I brought a small, inflatable kiddie pool for my daughter to play in so she could keep cool. ( from Oriental Trading Company cost less than $6.) — Diana from Annapolis, Md.

2. Need a quick way to get organized before your next trip? Try’s handy, dandy . Just tick the listed items you want to bring, and you can even add some of your own. The site comes up with a printable version of your list, and will even e-mail it to you. — Editor

3. I’ve discovered that a 6-foot extension cord can be very useful on a cruise. Quite often, there’s only one pair of outlets in your cabin and they’re usually not positioned in a handy spot. — Lynn from Peoria, Ill.

4. Let your little one chronicle your vacation from her point of view! Have her take pictures along the way. The pictures will make great keepsakes and create another busy-bee project for later: A scrapbook. — Amy from Aurora, Colo.
(Editor's Note: If you don't trust your kids with your expensive digital camera, consider buying a disposable camera for each child at the start of your trip.)

5. I’ve found that blue, low-tack painter’s tape is a handy take-along. This can be used to (a) child-proof electrical sockets, (b) hang up kid’s artwork in your stateroom, and (c) prevent a camera lens from opening while you travel (just place tape over the closed shutter). — Beverly from San Diego, Calif.

6. Inflatable toys are easy to pack and so inexpensive that you don’t mind leaving them behind after your vacation. I especially love Oriental Trading Company for its huge assortment of cheap blow-up beach gear, including and . — Lila from Tempe, Ariz.

7. One of our favorite bring-alongs is those small bottles of bubbles that come in packs (the kind that kids get in goodie bags at birthday parties). Whenever we’re waiting in a long line, I blow bubbles for the kids to pop. All of the parents around us always think it’s such a great idea because it keeps everyone entertained. Their kids always call me “the bubble lady.” — Jennifer from Owassa, Okla.

8. If you’re going on a cruise with a kid’s camp, bring a package of inexpensive, new white tee-shirts—I typically can get a 3-pack for around $11. Inevitably, the kids will wind up making tie-dye tee-shirts as an activity one day and you’ll end up paying $10/each if you buy one on the spot. — Diane from Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.

9. I always tuck a crushable duffle bag into an outside zippered compartment on my largest suitcase, and we have yet to return home without using it. If I check my bag and it happens to be over the weight limit, I just take out the duffle and transfer some of my belongings into it so I can avoid the penalty. Other times, we use it to bring back souvenirs that we bought on vacation. — Jodi from Milford, Ohio

10. My son just loves doing word search puzzles. Before we go on a family vacation, I make up customized word search puzzles for him to do on the plane or the ship, using words about our trip and destination.’s makes this simple and fast. You just type in words that you want included, and the program generates a word search puzzle that can be printed out. Easy and fun! — Kirsten from Eau Claire, Wis.

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