Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Flying with kids: 7 holiday-travel tips
Unexpected delays (and even cancellations, in a worst case scenario) can happen no matter how prepared you are, but if you are a little more prepared, the unexpected might be a little easier to deal with. Here are some of my tips for handling air-travel during the holiday season:
1. Bring some extra supplies in your hand luggage
Just in case you end up being delayed, it is a good idea to bring some extra supplies along. Definitely bring extra diapers and formula if you're traveling with a baby, and bring some extra snacks for older kids.
2. Pack your luggage with mishaps in mind
Hopefully all your luggage will be on the luggage carousel when you arrive at your destination, but sometimes, it won't be. Often, luggage is delayed rather than lost, but even that can be a hassle. Pack some of everyone's things into each suitcase you're bringing, just in case some of your luggage doesn't make it. That way, everyone will at least have something to wear when you arrive!
3. Check your flight status before you leave for the airport
Flight delays happen all the time, but if you're traveling in the snowy season, they can be especially bad. Check online or call before you head out, just to make sure that things look OK.
4. Don't wrap the gifts
Wrapping the gifts you're bringing with you, will only increase the time it takes you to get through security, if your belongings are searched. It's a lot easier to just wrap everything when you arrive at your destination!
5. Arrive at the airport early
This is a good strategy any time you're traveling with kids, but especially during the holidays. I know my own kids do not respond well to stress, and neither do I. More time means you don't have to manically hustle everyone through the airport, and you won't have to panic too much if the lineups are long. It also means you won't have to stress out if the kids need an extra bathroom visit, or diaper change. If you're lucky and everything goes quickly and smoothly, you can always relax inside security with a snack or coffee, or find the airport's play area (hopefully they have one!), and spend some time there.
6. Bring some festive snacks & books
To make your travel-time seem a little more festive, pack some holiday treats you know your kids like in your hand luggage: little candy canes maybe, or gingerbread cookies. Bring some holiday books too. For example, at Christmas-time it could be How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, or freak them out with an illustrated version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol for the Kindle. Holiday-themed coloring books can also be fun.
If you do end up stuck at an airport, it might help make things easier on your kids if they have a warm blanket to snuggle up in. Light-weight fleece blankets can be smooshed into your carry-on and brought along for those kinds of emergencies.