We’ve have traveled to so many places with our kids, however; each adventure has shown us that we still have a lot to learn when it comes to being prepared. Children are weird, and traveling with them is not easy, but with the right tips from what we’ve learned from our small, and HUGE mistakes (like being stranded at a rental car agency with no backup) can help make traveling with your young family easier.
Take it Slow
Running through the airport, squeezing in an overpacked concourse train, dodging suitcases while pushing a stroller, and pulling small kids who are lagging behind with seconds to spare before your gate closes is no fun. Arriving 3 hours before your flight is key to starting off your trip on a good note. You will have time to tie the shoe strings that just can’t wait to be tied, dig in your pack for fruit snacks that NEED to be eaten right after you JUST put them back in your pack after security checks, and time to sit down and grab something to eat.
Avoid having to wait in long check-in lines by packing light enough for your luggage to be considered a carry-on. For a 4 day trip, packing 2 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, and one extra pair of sneakers is easy, simple, and stress-free. If you only have a carry-on you are free to easily retrieve, and use boarding passes either from online or through self-check-in kiosks without having to wait to get your baggage checked. Check to see if your airline offers free car seat, and stroller baggage checks to save money.
Don’t forget to pack those essentials for everyone. What chills out your 5-year-old, or what makes your 2-year-old sit still for more than 10 minutes? Play-doh keeps my kids busy on planes for about an hour or two. Using phones, or tablets for a movie can also help keep them occupied, especially during those long trips. Once you get in the air your phone loses all service so be sure to download their favorite movies before take off. The ShowTime Anytime APP is one of the few apps that allows you to download, and watch movies offline.
Airline Perks For Young Families
Most airports provide special services for families traveling with more than one child. They will let you skip ahead in line during the security check, and the little ones can keep on their shoes. During gate check-ins, most airlines will let families board priority, giving you an ample amount of time to board the plane and get the kids seated before anyone else gets on. Frontier also has a special promotion, where kids fly for free.
Where to Sit
You know your kids, you know how hyper, loud, or antsy they can get. If there is no connecting flight, we like to sit as far as we can in the back as possible. This way we don’t have to keep telling them to turn around, they can be a little louder, and they are not easily distracted, by everyone else around us. It’s also easier for them to take naps when we are by ourselves in the back row.
Call & Confirm All Reservations
Nothing is worse than coming straight off a flight, to be turned away from a car, or hotel reservation with a screaming infant, an overly tired toddler who just wants a bed, and a 6-year-old who keeps asking “why aren’t we at the hotel yet, where’s our room”. Call ahead, speak to a rep, take down their names, and make sure you are squared away before you get there.
Find Out What’s Kid-Friendly
Do your research, find places and local events that the whole family can enjoy. Do this before your trip so you can have some type of informal itinerary to lean on. Things will get stressful really fast if you try to wait until you’re there and asking Google “What are things to do in____”. That way you’ll know prices, hours of operations, age requirements, and other “need to know” info.
Altitude Sickness is Real
If you are going to a destination where you’ll be at an altitude of more than 8,000 ft. plan for altitude sickness. My 6-year-old son threw up a whole 30-minute car ride down Echo Mountain after altitude sickness hit him hard. It started with lightheadedness, a headache than throwing up inside, and on the car. Medicines like Acetazolamide, drinking lots of water, and Oxygen are all ways to prevent Altitude Sickness.
Well think again, your kids will show you that you can’t plan for everything, but you can plan for some things, and make travel with kids much more enjoyable. Stay calm, even when your kids are testing your patience. I know it can be hard sometimes but, relax, and enjoy your time as a family.
Travel $mart, save money, strengthen your marriage, grow closer as a family, refocus on values, dismantle stereotypes, and create a happier home life.