It’s summer, and time for the big annual summer holiday! If you're flying with kids you might be worried about arriving in one piece. What if they act up, or spend the whole flight screaming? What if you land more frazzled than ready for fun? We could say "stuff 'em" and tell you not to worry about people who tut and sigh, but we know it's not that easy.
49 If your children are keeping a journal, encourage them to draw and list things they see and eat; they could also collect autographs and doodles from people they meet as well as ticket stubs and labels to stick in. If free mini-maps of places you visit are available, get extras for the children to stick into their books, and help them circle the places you've seen. If you're encountering different languages, put in lists of new words and add more as they learn one set.
After passing through security, be sure to stock up on enough water for everyone to get through a possible delay and have enough left for the descent--the most bothersome time for ear pressure discomfort. Have them drink some right after takeoff and then make sure they start drinking again during the last 30 to 45 minutes of the descent. The swallowing helps with the pressure and gives the added hydrating benefit.
Usually you will need to take your baby out of the sling or stroller to walk through the metal detector, and usually they will want you to collapse the stroller and put it on the belt. If you’re flying alone, I recommend getting everything out you need to get out *before* you get in the security line. Stash your laptop under the stroller, liquids in a ziplock, and that way you can just throw it in the tray and not be struggling to get it out while wrangling a baby *and* folding a stroller if you have one. See below for my easy-one-hand-collapse stroller recommendation. In other situations they want someone to walk through with the baby, hand the baby off, and then walk back through alone. It helps to have a partner for this otherwise a security officer can hold the baby.
Number 2 and 4 rings so true for me. I hate the burnout of travel. I always feel I am going to come back to a place so I try to do less and enjoy a more rich experience, hoping to build on that the next time I come back. Traveling even after having kids is one of my big beliefs. I am not one to want to wait till the kids are out of the house to experience the world. While i am healthy and at my most active self, I want to experience the world – with the kids when possible.
By taking one of these courses, which are run by airlines such as British Airways and Virgin, you'll no longer be a first time flyer by the time your trip rolls around, and you'll have a thorough grounding in every noise, movement and piece of jargon that you might encounter while airborne. By taking away that element of the unknown, you'll already be well on the way to reaching all those once-inaccessible destinations you've always dreamed of visiting.
I do it this way: I walk inside the terminal and take a look at both the length of the line for check-in, and the clock. If the line isn’t too long, and I have enough time, I head for the check-in; I get your seat assignments, can make any special requests, get credit for frequent flier miles, and can best address any problems with the flight such as delays or cancellations.
Towards the end of the flight, your child will become irritable and agitated, as the effects of sitting in a stale environment for three to five hours start to catch up. When they ask you how much longer is left in the flight, always lie to the child to make it seem like the landing is imminent. I usually go with, “Just about 25 minutes to go — hang in there.” Be sure to disable the interactive map feature on the headrest TV, as the child may figure out that you are really 2.5 hours away from your destination.
Even if you're not a morning person, you should still book early morning flights. The best times to fly in November and December are between 6 a.m. and noon, according to Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, a free app that tracks flights worldwide and helps users with claims such as lost luggage, delays, and cancellations. Flights earlier in the day are less likely to be delayed; if the plane is held up or canceled, you still have a good shot of getting another flight the same day. Also, tickets are generally less expensive for early morning flights.
First, do your research: are there budget airlines unique to the country you’re flying out of and where you’re headed to? Booking with a budget Australian airline (Jetstar) from Sydney to Honolulu, then an American one from Honolulu to Montreal saved us over $400 each when flying back from Australia to Canada earlier this year. This allowed us to create a thrifty five-day stopover in Hawaii on our way back, which was less exhausting and a lot cheaper! Kiwi.com and AirWander are both great search engine for revealing cheaper routes like this that involve multiple airlines.
Great article. You had me at towels for galactic hitchhiking. “Don’t panic, in large friendly letters.” A fav in regular quote rotation in our house. I’m proud to say I live and do most of the tips! Will need to remember the incognito browsing. Who knew? And I’m definitely on #teamnomoneybelt. But I still can’t bring myself to step into a Starbucks. Can barely even do it in the states! Happy travels and thanks.
Traveling in places where you don’t speak the language is surprisingly easy, but get ready to mime a lot. You can mime eating to ask someone if they’re serving food, mime sleeping to ask someone if there are any beds available in the hostel, and I even mimed that I needed to go to a train station by saying, “choo choo!” and drawing a picture of a train in my notepad for a taxi driver in Taiwan!
There's an easier way to get a better seat on your next flight, and it's way more obvious than you thought. Perhaps you're in a seat in the very back of the plane, acquire a middle seat in the middle of the plane, or, better yet, you're sitting in a seat right by the bathroom. Below is my key way to get a better seat on any flight. Take a look at the upgrade list this flight the other day from Chicago to ...
"I think it's great we don't have to travel in suits and high heels anymore. You can be comfortable. But you can also be classy and comfortable. Check your air carrier's rules — there are still dress codes sometimes in first class and, who knows, maybe, miracle of the day, you'll get that cheap upgrade to first class. Be comfortable, but if you can avoid wearing your pajamas, that's great."
There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After five years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll come to mean a lot more.
The fear of every parent is flying when their child has a cold, as they inevitably go Poltergeist upon take-off and landing. In those situations, even those parents who you thought were your allies will refuse to make direct eye contact with you. But even if a child doesn’t have a nasty head cold, they still tend to complain about their ears popping during the flight. You can tell them to try yawning or chewing some gum to alleviate the discomfort in their ears. But I find that headphones — for you the parent — are the most effective solution.
Seating advice? Got a couple of long-haul flights with my very active 2.5 year old son this summer, without hubby. Do you recommend that we go for an aisle + middle seat (easier to get up and move around, go to bathroom, etc, but no access to window and potentially more disruptive) or window + middle seat (he can watch the commotion during takeoff and landing and be further away from other passengers, but we will bother the aisle-seated passenger when getting up which we will surely do often). Any thoughts? Am already dreading this! Reply
Now, there are caveats, so don't go booking out an entire planeful of tickets just for shits and giggles. First, with most airlines, you can cancel/change your ticket up to seven days before you’re scheduled to travel and still get a full refund. (The notable exception is American Airlines, which instead allows you to hold a ticket up to 24 hours at the price you see.) Second, you need to book directly with the airline's website, and not through a third-party booking site, although big ones like Expedia or Travelocity offer policies similar to those of airlines. But the big takeaway: You can have buyer's remorse for up to a full day. And some airlines -- like Southwest -- have even more generous refund policies that let you change plans up until right before you take off.
Some people are anti-screen entirely. I get that, and if you are, try those wonderful cardboard books that baby can’t tear up. We certainly don’t shove her in front of a TV or computer as a babysitter or as a recreational activity for her, but when you are stuck on an airplane or in a car with a screaming baby, I personally have no problem playing her favorite nursery rhyme show on YouTube, “Dave and Ava”. We call it “the big guns”. Bonus there’s an app so we have it even when we have no internet like on flights or far flung destinations. She’s loved “Dave and Ava” since she was a tiny baby, which surprised me, and she loves it still, even after a year old. When things are urgent and we’re desperate, it always works to calm her down and keep her occupied, well 98% of the time. Excellent for the above scenarios or say a mad dash we’re-going-to-miss-our-flight-if-we-don’t-hurry packing scenario where a screaming baby isn’t tenable. Make sure to download the app on your phone for when there’s no cell service/wifi (i.e. on a plane). It’s expensive—like literally the most expensive app I’ve ever purchased at $24.99—but it’s been worth every mind saving penny.
12 If you're going to need visas for your destination, don't be surprised if they're a requirement for children as well as adults, and that their fee is the same as for yours. As many countries require visas to be collected in person by applicants (including children), you may have to make a trip to the main embassy in your country, although it's often possible to apply in writing first to avoid two trips.
Spring for an afternoon in the lounge. For a fee―usually about $50 a day, which you can pay on the spot―you can take advantage of the snacks, uncrowded bathrooms, and comfy chairs at most airline club lounges, plus you can get help from the club's dedicated ticket agents. "Several times when it's looked like I would be stuck somewhere for another day, a club agent has pulled a rabbit out of his hat," says Bill Coffield, an attorney who flies between 50,000 and 100,000 miles a year.
Here’s a confession: I gained around 20 pounds over my first few years of travel, mostly thanks to eating out for every single meal. While it can be tempting to treat yourself to junk food, and Pringles and Oreos will fuel your every travel day, resolve to have at least a few days every now and then when you go for the healthier option. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Aim to cut out the rice, bread, and beer to keep your calorie intake low if you’re feeling as though you’re gaining too much weight on the road.
Stockpile samples. Freida Burton, a US Airways flight attendant for almost 31 years, carries samples of cosmetics and prescription creams, which she requests from her doctor. Go to walmart.triaddigital.com or freesamplesblog.com for a variety of freebie offers. Or take advantage of Sephora’s and Kiehls’s policies of giving three free samples with any online order.
And remember: Your child’s behavior may not even be the issue. Matt Wittenstein, an American living in Paris who travels extensively with his eight-year-old daughter, got a crash course in family travel mishaps: “Her first flight was an international one—my wife and I took her to Portugal—and we were traveling with pre-bottled formula. The bottles were fine everywhere except London, where they made me open half of them to prove… well, I don’t know what. But it did mean that most of the formula we brought was wasted.”
3. If you have your own technology, bring it. If your tablet or phone is off limits to your children, get a sturdy case and load up a few apps that they can use, along with digital copies of their favorite movies. Just suck it up and let them play. They won't do permanent damage with just a day's travel. In fact, knowing that they are being allowed to use something ordinarily off limits is one of the biggest draws of this.
No child wants to eat the hand-carved roast beef sandwich that is featured in the airline’s menu. And by the time the snack cart gets to you in the back of the plane — where they banish all of the children — there are no more sandwiches available because all the childless couples have devoured them up front. You are likely stuck with the option of either Cool Ranch-flavoured Bugles or something called Vegan Crisps. So make sure you bring ample snacks on board. A bag of surprise gummy bears when things are really melting down can be a more effective lifesaver than those oxygen masks.