Family travel can be fun and exciting for kids and parents alike, but summer is also an especially busy time at airports everywhere. If your family’s summer travel includes flying, you might find these travel tips helpful. Here are 10 suggestions to ensure a smooth air-travel experience.
1. Plan ahead. For the lowest fares and best selection of flights, make your reservations as soon as possible. Be sure to ask for seat assignments and boarding passes.
Most kids like window seats so they can see the world passing below them. Remember, kids under 15 are not permitted to sit in a row with an emergency exit.
2. Ask the airline about special kid discounts and services. Children’s meals can be requested when making reservations, or at least six hours prior to departure.
3. Talk with your child about where you’re going and what it’s like to fly. Maybe visit the airport ahead of time and explain what’s going to happen. Stress the positive, fun aspects of air travel. Look at an atlas to figure out the path the plane might follow, as well as what landmarks you might be able to see (e.g. Grand Canyon).
4. Make a countdown calendar so your kids can see when the trip starts.
5. Arrive at least one hour before your scheduled domestic flight. (Two for international). Those traveling with children are allowed to board first. Take advantage of this.
6. Be aware of where your child is at all times. Airports are busy during the summer. If you and your child are separated, let an airline representative know immediately.
7. Bring along your child’s favorite toys, games or books, or special stuffed animals or blankets. Check your nearest toy store for smaller travel versions of your family’s favorite board games. Hand-held electronic games are a great way for older children to spend the time in flight. Airlines suggest you turn off the sound and make sure the game is completely turned off during take-off and landing. Leave noisy toys or games with small pieces at home.
8. For very young children, a bottle of juice or milk, or a pacifier, will ease inner-ear pressure during takeoff and landings. Older children can munch on chewing gum or a snack you’ve brought along.
9. Don’t rush to be the first one off the plane after landing. If you wait until the other passengers have deplaned it will be less crowded and much easier for you and your children to get off.
10. Be sure there’s some sort of identification on the outside and inside of your suitcase. Or, tie a colorful ribbon around the handle.