It’s no secret that traveling with kids can be a challenge. From mid-flight temper tantrums and picky eating to sugar highs and are-we-there-yets, parents traveling with small children have been through it all. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways, including opting for family travel insurance, to keep your anxiety and stress low and have an amazing family travel experience.
Prepare & Pack Effectively for your Family 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. Here are some pointers:
- 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. Remember, you may have to book early to reserve these accommodations.
- 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. A fussy infant or toddler on an overnight flight creates a stressful situation for you, your children and your fellow passengers.
- 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 their own bag, check it over to ensure that they packed carefully and that there are no items the TSA may have to confiscate.
Arrive at the Airport Extra Early
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 for your child to get lost. Consider using a baby carrier or harness for babies and small children.
Heed Air Travel Safety Protocols
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 in-flight meal, it’s best to stick to what your children are familiar with 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 toys with few individual parts are good options, and tablets loaded with their favorite games and movies will keep them busy.
Know the Rules of the Road
A road trip can be the family vacation of a lifetime, but it’s important to know the rules of the road and keep you, your children and your fellow drivers safe. If you’re traveling on hometown roads these rules will likely be secondhand to you, however when you’re traveling out of state and certainly when you’re driving internationally, rules and landscapes change. Being aware of these nuances beforehand can help make the drive safer for everyone.
When it comes to kids and long drives, be sure to keep them occupied 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.
- Know Car seat safety rules. Once you travel outside state lines, the rules for whether your child needs to be in a car seat, or what direction they need to be facing may change. These rules were put in place to protect your child from injury in case of a car accident, so it’s important to heed them.
- 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 car sickness or motion sickness, purchase medicine and prepare a first aid kit 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.
Consider Family Travel Insurance
There’s nothing like the excitement of a family trip. Whether you’re taking a trip on a family-friendly cruise, or hopping on a plane to visit a faraway country, family travel can be an incredibly exciting opportunity to make lifelong memories with the people who mean the most to you. You’ll want to make sure the trip is memorable for all the right reasons. One of the best tools for U.S. citizens is trip insurance. Here are some reasons why opting for family trip insurance policies is a good idea:
Your vacation is an Investment
Family vacations can set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars. Likewise, other costs such as amusement park tickets can add to the price. U.S. travelers can get trip insurance to help protect their investments. If the airline, hotel, and activities don’t refund your expenses, trip insurance may reimburse these non-refundable expenses, so you don’t lose the money you invested.
You’ll have more flexibility to cancel or amend your plans
Trips and travel can get postponed or canceled for a variety of reasons, especially when there are children involved. All it takes is one bad fall, injury, or a sudden illness to postpone the plans that you’ve spent weeks putting together. Although plane tickets and hotel reservations sometimes allow for reimbursement under certain circumstances, you don’t want to bank on those policies. Instead, trip insurance can provide U.S. residents with some financial relief in case travel plans change at the last minute. Likewise, with a Cancel For Any Reason add-on, you can find relief knowing that you’ll be financially covered in the event that you need to cancel your trip for literally any reason.
Waiting around in an airport because of a delay or a cancellation is a pain when you’re traveling solo. But when you have your entire family (especially if younger children are involved), getting stranded can be even more stressful. Family travel insurance plans often include specific benefits for trip interruption, missed connection, or itinerary changes, meaning that you’ll be assisted in the event that your trip is changed significantly.
You’ll have coverage for baggage loss, delay, or damage
While you’re navigating your family through the airport, it can be a challenge to keep your eyes on baggage. Whether you’re dealing with lost luggage, or even worse, someone steals one of your personal items or pieces of luggage, your travel insurance will provide assistance.
Also, if your bags are delayed by your airlines and your family is left without clothes and other necessities for an extended period of time, you can file a claim to be reimbursed for replacement items that you had to purchase. However, keep in mind that the coverage amount on your policy is generally per person and not per plan.
Choose Travel Medical Insurance
When you’re traveling abroad, the domestic medical care that you normally rely on will probably not be an option for you. This means that without travel insurance, you’d have to pay for any medical expenses out of pocket. Although traveling with children is a lot of fun, it also increases the risk for injury or sickness. Whether your son or daughter falls and needs stitches, or experiences something more serious, you don’t want to foot the medical bill yourself.
Travel medical insurance will provide financial coverage in the event of an unexpected illness or accident abroad. For Americans traveling abroad, another option for medical coverage is trip insurance. One of the benefits of trip insurance is accident and injury coverage up to $500k. Not only that, but your specific policy, whether travel medical or trip insurance, may provide a number of benefits, such as emergency evacuation.
So, yes, traveling with kids can be stressful and nerve wracking but with careful planning and considering your travel safety options can help put your mind at ease. This will give you the freedom to focus on the many joys of traveling with little ones: witnessing their awe when they see something new, watching the pride on their face as they wheel their own suitcase to the gate, hearing the giddy laughter when they experience new thrills, the fact that you’re creating an amazing experience that they’ll one day tell their own kids about.