Hello Holiday season! Good-bye patience! This year’s holiday travel season is going to be the busiest since 2007. That means you need to be extra prepared to handle those large crowds, heightened security, delays, lost baggage, and unexpected weather.
GUIDE TO: SURVIVING HOLIDAY TRAVEL WITH CHILDREN
1. STAY UP TO DATE
Before you leave home you should check your flight status- with holiday air traffic there is a possibility of delays, even cancelations. Start off your holidays with the littlest amount of stress possible. In case of a cancelation, be sure to call your airline immediately (even if you are at the airport) you get quicker service than if you are at the actual ticket counter, unless you are the first in line.
2. PACK LIGHT & DRESS SMART
Pack only what you need- and even mail the rest of your luggage to your destination. Often, presents have to be opened by TSA (so don't bother wrapping them) and less luggage means less stress. You need to plan for extra long security lines, so travel with the least amount of accessories, jewlery, belts, hats, shoes that slip on and off, electronics in an easy to reach space, liquids in ziplocs before you leave home, compact toys and games for the kids.
Always, dress smart, comfortable, and always bring a change of clothes for your children. For instance, if you get stuck for a long layover in Chicago, that last thing you want is to only be in pajamas. You could spend those unexpected 15 hours going into town having a nice dinner or checking out a museum before heading back to the airport.
3. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED
It's inevitable that holiday travel will bring out some nasty delays because of weather, and with the massive influx of people brings a strain on the system. Make sure you have enough time to make your connection- with children I always try to have at least 2 hours so we have enough time to use the restroom, change diapers, grab snacks, stretch our legs, and with this amount of time your bags will have a chance to make the flight with you. If you do have to rebook a flight, be sure that the agent gives you enough time between your connections.
If traveling with your baby, pack for a minimum of 3 days for formula, diapers, and baby appropriate snacks. One thing that still drives me crazy is that airports don't have anything for your babies- so this is the time to be extra prepared. Here's other tips on how to fly with your baby.
Luna making the most out of her unexpected time in Istanbul
4. BE ORGANIZED AND PREPARED
Make sure you have all your flight information, hotel information, and ID's all in one place. I personally use the app tripit to keep me organized. ID's for children are not required when you fly domesticly, but you should have a copy of your child's birth certificate- also some states will issue a child's ID free of charge. If in doubt of your airlines requirements you can always check the FAA's website for up to date regulations.
If you are traveling outside of the USA you must have a passport and if flying solo with your children outside of the country you need to have a letter from the other parent with a copy of their passport- stating you have their permission.
5. STAY HEALTHY
Airports and planes are breeding grounds for germs, without even thinking about the amount of people passing through this holiday season. Be sure to pack plenty of baby wipes, disposible changing mats, hand sanitizer, wash those hands as much as humanly possible and stock up on those vitamins for everyone so they will be able to combat any icky airborn germs. Also, remember take off and landing is hard on your children's ears- they need to suck or drink during take off and landing.
6. TAG YOUR LUGGAGE
This is an obvious, but what I am going for here is something called overtagging. Put a business card in your suitcase, and double tag even your carry-on bag. For your children's favorite stuffed animals, you can even put a little tag with your address and phone number. Enable your mobile devices gps, so if you leave it somewhere you will be able to locate it and even send a message to your device. You can't imagine how often people leave their devices and laptops at security and on the airplane.
To actually enjoy your "unexpected" time at the airport, why not treat your family to a lounge. There are paid per visit options in every airport regardless of your ticket or airline. These are great for families because they have family rooms, kids corner and everything is free (I get a lovely glass of wine and all our snacks here too :-) ) I personally have a Priority Pass which I love and you can also download loungebuddy to find a paid lounge in your airport.
Early morning flights often mean the airport restaurants haven't opened yet.
We get breakfast and snacks before we head out on those 6 a.m. flights- here in Geneva, Switzerland.
8. NO TIME FOR MELTDOWNS
With holiday stress, the last thing any parent needs is their children going into full meltdown mode. So when you aren't having to run through the airport yelling at the kids to hurry up, that's already an excellent way to avoid meltdowns. Having the kids occupied by snacks, video games, and even having them sleep are all excellent ways to make travel meltdown free. Charge those iPads-mobile devices and even download some new exciting apps (more app ideas for all ages)
Tips for Surviving those flights with babies and kids.
9. FLIGHT ATTENDANTS ARE HUMANS TOO
Holiday travel is also extremely stressful for your flight attendants too. They are working nights, weekends, and holidays- they too have to follow rules and regulations- so barking at them doesn't tend to get what you want. So before you or your kids start to get hangry (hungry + angry)- don't rely on the food service, grab food and drinks at the airport. I promise, they don't like delays any more than you do, and a simple please and thank you goes a long way. Make it your goal to make their holiday travel season a little sweeter and make it your goal to make your flight attendant smile.
10. KEEP CALM IT'S THE HOLIDAYS!
Enjoy this one on one time with your family as you travel. Try to make the most out of it by using those two hours you are on the plane with your children to draw, play, read stories- it's a rare opprotunity these days and being prepared and stress-free (as possible) is key to enjoying these moments!
Making the most out of time together on our way to Luxembourg