Whether you’re taking your first big trip with a newborn or you’re a seasoned traveler with a disaffected teen, these tips and tools can help make family vacations more fun and way less stressful for everyone. Check out how you can make traveling with kids a breeze!
Depending on the age of the kids, have each child bring a small backpack filled with their toys and goodies for the flight. When possible, load their bags with some of the other things that you need, such as bottles, diapers and wipes. Even very young kids can carry a small backpack filled with their own diapers. This saves you space in your bag and makes the child feel like a “big” boy or girl.
To avoid lugging a heavy stroller, buy a lightweight or “umbrella” stroller for your trip. They are generally inexpensive (under $50) and easy to roll down the ramp and gate check. If you bring a cumbersome stroller, the airline might have you check it as luggage. You also run the risk of an expensive stroller getting damaged in transit. Whichever you bring, wait to check it at the gate, right before boarding. It will be waiting for you when you land and you’ll be able to wheel junior to the baggage claim.
With a baby under age 2, bring an FAA approved car seat onto the plane with you. If there is an extra seat you will be given the extra seat for the baby. If not, then they will take it from you and put it underneath. This is a great option if you need a car seat where you are going. If not, it is probably not worth it.
Booking and Checking In
When selecting a flight, try to book nonstop flights during off-peak hours, either early or late, when kids are likely to sleep through more of the trip.
Check in for your flight online as early as possible (24 hours before). If you are traveling with an infant consider asking for a seat in the back of the plane. If there are any empty seats left on the flight, chances are they will be there, and you might have extra room to stretch out. In addition, you are closer to the bathrooms, will have extra standing space and will have flight attendants close at hand, if you need them. Bulkhead seats have a little extra leg room, and remember that you’ll need to avoid exit-row seats with kids.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
How early you need to arrive depends upon a variety of factors, including your airline, airport, plans for parking, flight time and whether or not you are checking baggage. If you’re traveling during school vacations, chances are good the airport will be crowded with other families doing the same. We recommend arriving at least ninety minutes ahead of your scheduled departure. Keep in mind that some destinations (such as international flights and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have earlier check-in times than others and if you miss the plane, it can be very difficult for you to find enough seats or seats together on a later flight. Because of the new security regulations, make sure you and the children are in shoes that are easy to get on and off. Before taking off the children’s shoes, double check with security if it is necessary, since depending on the type of shoe, often it is not
Keep Kids Entertained
Try to pack a few surprises for the kids in your carry-on. Go to a discount store, and pick up a couple of small inexpensive items like stickers, small toys or action figures for younger kids and music, books or handheld games for older kids. Pack toys that do not have pieces and do not require numerous things to work. Better even than a coloring book and crayons is a doodle pad with the coloring stick attached that can erase and start over.
During takeoff and landing, make sure to have kids drink or chew gum. Make sure the baby is either nursing or drinking a bottle. Explain to them what is happening, and if they are too small to see out the window, play a game where they have to tell you when you are finally in the air or when you have finally touched ground.
Have fun! –Cute Beltz