Don’t let your worries about flying with kids or toddlers keep you from planning a family vacation. Traveling with kids can be a challenge, but there are simple ways to make your trip less stressful. These travel tips will help make your trip an experience you and your little ones can enjoy together.
Preparing for Your Trip
Preparation is key when traveling with children. Avoid complications at the airport by making the proper arrangements ahead of time. Have a travel plan prepared so that you and your children can travel interruption-free.
- Book the right seats. Choose airplane seats next to each other so you can supervise your kids throughout the flight. Opt for bulkhead seats or bassinet seats for infants.
- Choose a child-friendly flight. If possible, book a nonstop flight to avoid the hassle of making a connecting flight with children in tow. Also, try to avoid red-eye flights. Your fellow passengers will not appreciate a fussy infant or toddler on an overnight flight.
- Contact the hotel. When booking a hotel, call ahead to make sure that a crib, extra bed, stroller, or other necessities for your children will be available.
- Pack appropriately. Make sure that anything that may not be available at your destination are in your luggage, including clothing, toys, diapers, formulas, and any other necessities. If your child is packing his own bag, check that no prohibited airport items are inside.
Arriving at the Airport
The airport can be a hectic place, especially when traveling with children. Before leaving for the airport, make sure that you have everything you need and that you give yourself plenty of time to check-in, get through security, and walk to your gate.
- Bring proper documentation. Make sure that your child’s documentation is up-to-date. For example, passports for minors under 16 in the US are only valid for 5 years. Check that your child’s passport will not have expired at the time of travel.
- Be early. Keep in mind the long check-in lines and security check lines at many major airports. It is stressful enough being late traveling alone; being late with young travelers is even more of a hassle.
- Ask about early boarding. Many airlines offer early boarding for passengers traveling with children. Take advantage of this, so you and your family can utilize the extra time to get situated comfortably on the plane.
- Stay together. Airports are huge, and the last thing you want is to separate from your children. Consider using a baby carrier or harness for babies and small children.
Boarding the Plane
Prepare for a long flight with children by keeping them comfortable and occupied. Proper seating arrangements, snacks, and toys will make for a child-friendly and stress-free flight.
- Consider child safety. Depending on your child’s age and weight, ask flight attendants for an aircraft-approved child safety seat or airplane child safety harness, or bring your own.
- Prepare for air pressure changes. Prevent ear pain in small children by bringing chewing gum or gummy worms for them to chew as the plane ascends or descends.
- Pack snacks or meals. Please picky eaters by packing your children’s favorite foods or meals. Even if the airline provides an inflight meal, it is best to avoid potential allergies or sicknesses.
- Bring toys and gadgets. Keep children entertained on long flights by bringing along their favorite toys, games, electronics, and headphones. Quiet and safe toys are good options, and tablets loaded with their favorite games and movies will keep them busy.
Traveling by Car
Make long drives and road trips with kids fun by packing toys, snacks, and pillows, and taking breaks for playtime along the journey. Most importantly, don’t forget child car safety.
- Buckle up. Bring proper car seats or safety harnesses. Certain countries and states have specific child safety seat laws, so do your research beforehand.
- Pack the necessities. Bring plenty of snacks, water, and toys or games to keep kids entertained during long car rides. In the case of potential carsickness or motion sickness, purchase medicine before the trip.
- Encourage naps. Bring pillows and blankets for long car rides, so that kids can get comfortable and easily take a nap on the way to your destination.
- Let them play. Plan stops along the way for children to burn off some energy. Bring a ball or jump rope, or stop at nearby parks and playgrounds.
There are always risks involved with international travel, so taking extra safety precautions, especially with young children, is essential. Having travel insurance is the best way to protect yourself against any unforeseen illnesses or injuries, so choose the right travel medical insurance plan for you and your family.