3 kids, one grandmother, 15 pieces of luggage and 6 tickets to Hawaii can be a recipe for disaster. Travel is suppose to be fun and exciting, the best time of the year…Now whoever wrote that was a someone who could afford a private jet charter. Family travel takes focus and planning to avoid a disaster.
Tip #1. Cheap Tickets are for Bachelors
Getting to the airport in one piece, on time and without waking up at 4 am is the first step to a successful family holiday. Understand that travel with kids comes with a new set kid limits. Saving $50.00 a ticket to take flights that leave at 6 am is just not worth it with children. That $50.00 dollars will translate into hours of agony in the airport and on the plane. Buy 6 am family tickets at your own risk.
Tip #2: Pack the Car the Night Before
Pack the bags two days before leaving. Single people and business travelers on the fly can pack ½ hour before leaving the house. They don’t need to pack diapers, sippy cups, three different kinds of snacks, games, an iPad, and matching socks in four different sizes. Family packing is a completely different ballgame that inevitably includes a last load of laundry or a mad dash to the store for little John’s favorite fruit snacks. Pack early and pack the car the night before.
Tip #4: Print Boarding Passes at Home
Print those boarding passes at home 24 hours before the flight. Then put them and all the necessary IDs in a pouch around your neck in the morning.
Tip #3: Book an Airport Parking Assistant
Getting everyone and everything into the car is only the beginning. Use an airport parking assistant at the airport to ensure a smooth arrival. Parking assistants are easy to book online and they make the time crunched manic dash for the plane much easier. Parking assistants include all levels of service from a convenient reserved place (or two places next to each other for big families) where you can self-park to full valet service. Parking Assistants are fabulous for family travelers.
Tip #4: Head for the Special Needs or Family Line
Most airports now have a speedy new security check-in line designed especially to handle special needs. Strollers and small children qualify as special needs! Similarly, take advantage of special pre-boarding when it’s time to get on the airplane. Pre-boarding is important these days because of baggage fees. Many travelers now try to haul half of their house on board with them to avoid the fees. With kids it is imperative to get the perfect overhead (directly above your seat). Get in there and stake a claim!
Tip #5: Take Advantage of Help on the Other End Whenever Possible
Aunt Jeannie offering to meet you at the airport? Take her up on that. Able to book a pickup through your hotel- do that too. It is always better to have someone meet you on the other end (paid, cajoled or willing family) to hold a child’s hand, roll a stroller or check the carrousel for luggage. Once all the family and all the things are where they need to be on the other end, it is time to relax and start the holiday!