Steamed Napkins, Suckers, and Other Stay-Sane Remedies for Traveling with Toddlers

On Sunday morning, Beau, Cruz, and I will climb aboard a plane and travel across the country to Lake Tahoe, California.  Beau won a trip through work last year, and we are excited to take Cruz on his first big vacation sans our own car.  We've done several day trips with Cruz Man, a few overnight stays, and had a great time spending a few days in Chicago last summer, but this will be our first 'major' vacation with Cruz in tow, our first time checking bags and traveling via plane, and our first time finding our way through one of the busiest airports in the world for our connecting flight.  I'm nervous, I'm super excited, and I'm hoping to be one planned mama for a smooth sailing (or flying) trip to the other side of the United States.

Cue look of horror...  


I'm looking to the blogosphere for advice.  Other mamas who have traveled in the air with busy, rambunctious, and unpredictable little people, and your sure-fire tips, must-haves, and remedies for staying sane (and keeping the other fliers happy) on a four-hour flight with a toddler.  

Here are some of the wonderful tips and ideas I've heard thus far, as well as a few other ideas I've come up with.  

-Suckers, gummy bears, and other sweet treats to chew on as the pressure changes.  I've also heard pacifiers work??  I worry about his little ears, and want to make sure we're proactive about making sure they're snap, crackle, and poppin' on that plane.

-Steamed napkins in styrofoam cups in case their little ears hurt.  I love this idea!

-New toys to pull out as surprises during the flight.  This is a great idea.  Any suggestions on quiet, engaging, and small toys that keep your little one enthralled for longer periods at a time?

-iPads, DVD players, laptops, etc.  We have an iPad and plan to download lots of new Elmo games, but I wonder about headphones.  Suggestions on nice headphones for babies?

We plan to bring a smaller jogging stroller with us to the airport (especially for O'Hare), and I purchased a 'check bag' to stuff the stroller in to gate check it before boarding.  I want to buy snacks ahead of time, and wonder if we're allowed to bring this in our carry-on bag.  I've always purchased snacks in the airport, and have never tried to get anything through security.  Any tricks for packing Cruz's favorite snacks in his bag ahead of time?

Am I forgetting anything?  Other ideas or thing to be aware of?  Tips, success stories, or life lessons learned after not-so-good experiences?  I'm hoping to post the rest on a follow-up post after our trip. 

Thanks for your help!