Flying with kids is FUN but also a challenge. No matter how much travelling you’ve done before with your partner, friends, or even as a solo adventurer, nothing can quite prepare you for the experience of your first travel with kids. There will be some challenges and tough spots, but there will (hopefully!) usually be lots more highlights and happy memories in the making. Even if you’re now a seasoned pro at family travel, a little reminder every now and then doesn’t go amiss. So ease the pressure a wee bit with these nine golden rules of flying with kids:
Be Passport Aware When Flying With Kids
Imagine turning up at the airport and realizing that one family member’s passport was actually out of date. Or, finding this out a couple of days before the trip and having a frantic dash to try and get a last minute replacement. Make sure that you check everyone’s passport expiry dates well in advance of finalizing any plans! You should also keep in mind that a minimum period of validity at the end of a planned trip is also required to enter many countries. This is largely to cover situations where people are unable to leave the country on the planned date, for example through injury or sickness, and so that they are not left without a valid passport. Check the requirements of your chosen destination and then make sure there is enough time on every family member’s passport.
It is also strongly recommended that you make several copies of everyone’s passport – take one copy away with you to carry around each day in place of the originals (which you should keep locked up in a secure place such as a hotel safe), and give at least one set of copies to a trusted friend or family member who is remaining at home. Having an electronic copy yourself is also very handy.
Travel Insurance: Don’t Leave Home Without It!
The peace of mind that comes with knowing your family is covered in the worst case scenario is well worth the price of the insurance alone. And that’s without actually needing to use it! If someone needs medical treatment abroad, if any of your valuable items are stolen, if your baggage is lost … there are so many things that can go wrong on vacation. Whilst you should expect the best, you should also plan for the worst.
Allow Plenty of Time for Vaccinations
Some vaccinations require several doses to be fully effective and offer immunity. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time before your trip to make sure everyone is fully covered.
Be Clever with Hand Luggage When Flying with Kids
Try and pack a fresh set of clothes for everyone across the hand luggage bags, and perhaps even consider an additional few pairs of underwear per person. Also make sure that you are carrying any prescription medication with you. If you arrive at your destination to find that your checked luggage has been delayed, or even worse, lost, having a change of clothes for the next day at least can really help to take the pressure off.
Ask Yourself: Do I Really Need Priority Seating?
When waiting for a flight, train, ferry, or indeed, any other form of transportation where priority may be given to families with children, ask whether you really want your kids to be sat still for any longer than is absolutely necessary? As long as you’re there and don’t wait until after the final call, your transport isn’t leaving without you! A major exception, however, would be where seating is not pre-allocated. This is one time where you may want to take advantage of priority seating to make sure that the whole family has seats together.
Have a Plan for Each Day
Having a rough idea of what you want to do each day will make things a whole lot easier come the morning. You can have done your research beforehand, know how you want to get to where you’re going, know the opening times, and set out feeling confident. On the other hand though …. For more planing tips, read here.
When Flying with Kids You Can’t be Too Rigid with Plans!
Yes, you want a plan when traveling with kids. No, you don’t need to stick to it as though it’s the law. Things change – allow a little flexibility and be prepared to go with the flow at times. Having a good selection of games and activities to keep the kids entertained, such as a Kids’ Travel Guide, is a great way to prevent potential boredom and frustrations when things don’t go quite to plan. You can find more tips on “How to Improvise in the Case of Bad Weather, Illness or Unexpected Occurrences”.
Remember: It’s YOUR Vacation
You may have read every “top things to do in XXX” list going and garnered the opinions of numerous friends and relatives. At the end of the day though, it’s your family’s holiday and if you want to skip on a “must-see”, do it! Do the things that make you and your family happy, not the things that make other people happy.
Linked to above, don’t forget to enjoy your tip and make the most of every moment. There will be challenged, but overall, it will likely whizz by in the blink of an eye! Try to relax and simply enjoy being with your kids and experiencing new environments with them.