Flying with family can be an overwhelming experience if you’re not prepared. From choosing the best flight times and airport locations to looking for deals on airline tickets and packing strategically, you should consider a number of things before it’s time to board that plane.
Preparing ahead and planning can make the journey more enjoyable and stress-free. To make sure your travels go as smoothly as possible, this guide provides tips and advice on ten things to consider when flying with family.
This post is part of our family flying advice series
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is essential for a successful and stress-free trip with your family. Before the flight, sit down with your family and discuss ideas and interests; this will make the journey more enjoyable.
Once you have narrowed down a destination, start looking at flights, hotels, and other preparation such as car rentals, activities, and restaurants. Booking in advance can save money and ensure availability.
Similarly, you should prepare for your journey ahead of time. Research the best routes, check traffic and weather conditions, and plan to leave enough time to get to the airport or train station. Additionally, make sure to plan for safety.
Also, find out what the local laws, customs, and regulations are. Make sure to have all necessary documents, such as passports and visas, ready. Finally, plan for any medical needs your family may have.
2. Research Your Airline Options
Taking time to compare airline features, amenities, and rates can make your next flight much more enjoyable for the whole family. Determine which airlines offer direct flights, evaluate fees for checked bags and in-flight perks like Wi-Fi and entertainment, and read up on ratings from other travelers to help you make an informed decision on which airline to choose.
You should also look out for deals; many airlines offer discounted airfare rates during certain days of the year or when booked far enough in advance. If you book early, you will even get a discount on top of the low price.
Some travel agencies also offer holiday family packages which include everything you require during your visit to foreign countries. Make sure to look for them to make the journey easy.
3. Check-In Online Early And Print Or Download Boarding Passes
Many airlines now allow you to check in for your flight online or via a mobile app! This will save time at the airport since there won’t be any long lines waiting for a ticketing agent.
It’s also easy to print boarding passes from home or send them to your phone, so you can download and access them on the go. Doing this in advance of your trip will ensure that everyone in your party can get boarding passes when it’s time to board.
4. Pack Snacks And Entertainment
Always make sure to pack plenty of healthy snacks and simple entertainment that your kids can enjoy while traveling. Non-messy, non-perishable snacks such as crackers, fruit bars, roasted nuts, protein bars, bags of chips or popcorn, and pre-packaged sandwiches will keep them full and happy during the flight.
Packing snacks and entertainment is important for any family trip as it will entertain your kids on a flight. It will help to keep everyone happy but also can save money.
Packing a few snacks can prevent the need to buy expensive food in airports or on planes. Entertainment is also important, as it can help to pass the time while waiting in airports or on long flights.
5. Invest In Nonstop Flights Whenever Possible
Investing in nonstop flights is an economic asset. Usually, nonstop flights are cheaper than connecting flights, and business travelers choose nonstop flights over connecting flights because of their value for time.
Nonstop flights can save you time and avoid the hassle of connecting flights. This is your best option when flying with children, as it will minimize their fatigue.
Make sure to research available flight options when booking your tickets, and always compare costs between one-stop and direct flights. Investing in nonstop flights will also minimize the chances of your belongings being lost or delayed during a connection.
6. Opt For Seats Near An Exit Row Or Bulkhead
If you’re going to be on a long flight and need a bit of extra legroom, consider opting for seats in an exit row or bulkhead. These seats typically have more space which can be more comfortable for taller passengers, and also have extra storage areas with no seat in front of them.
Since these are some of the most desirable seats, they may cost more or require an upgrade fee. Ensure that your airline is offering the seats you want before booking.
You can get to the lavatory and move about more easily with it. Families with small children should consider that exit row seats come with additional responsibility, as the passengers in that row are expected to help the flight attendants in the event of an emergency.
7. Book Enough Time Between Connecting Flights
When booking connecting flights, giving yourself enough time between them is important so you don’t miss your second flight. Domestic flights usually require a minimum connection time of between 30 minutes and two hours, while international flights typically require a connection time of 1-3 hours.
The size and layout of the airport and where your connecting flight departs from are important factors to consider, as navigating a large airport can take more time.
Your luggage may not make it between one plane and another if you have a short layover. To avoid this, booking a single ticket with one carrier is best, as they will do their best to ensure you actually catch your connecting flight.
If you’re flying with children, look for nonstop or direct flights if they’re available. If that isn’t possible, consider leaving enough time between connections (preferably 2 hours) to avoid missing a flight. This will help ensure your family makes it to their destination without added stress and anxiety.
8. Don’t Overpack
When traveling with family, it is essential to pack light. Overpacking can make it difficult to fit everyone’s bags in the car or on the plane and can also make it difficult to maneuver in airports or tourist attractions.
You should list items you will need on the trip and put them in order of importance to prevent overpacking. Consider the weather and activities planned and pack accordingly. To ensure everyone’s bags are within the airline’s weight and size limits, it’s also crucial to check the airline’s carry-on and checked baggage limits.
You don’t want to be heavy-handed with unnecessary items, so pack light and only bring the essentials. Make sure that everyone, especially the children, packs only what they need. Also, keep in mind any size or weight limits for baggage when making your packing list. By doing this, you will be able to avoid airport overweight baggage fees!
9. Stay Organized
Keep your boarding passes and necessary paperwork organized in a clearly labeled pouch or envelope. Be sure to keep important items like passports, money, boarding passes, and tickets close at all times. Having them readily accessible will make getting through security, checking into your flight, and boarding much smoother!
To travel with your family efficiently, you need to stay organized. Especially when there are kids, it can also be helpful to keep everything in a bag or backpack. Additionally, having a designated spot in your suitcase for items like keys and phones can help to ensure they don’t get misplaced.
10. Make Sure To Stick To Child Safety Regulations With The Car Seats And Strollers
Child safety regulations vary by airline and country, so it’s essential to do your research beforehand. For example, many airlines allow you to bring a car seat and stroller, but there may be specific rules or restrictions regarding their use during the flight.
Make sure to double-check the requirements on your chosen airline’s website before your travel date, and consider bringing a lightweight travel stroller that can fit in an overhead bin for convenience.
Many safety seats are appropriate for aircraft that are approved for motor vehicles. If your child is under two, you can carry a stroller or a car seat in exchange for luggage.
Traveling with family can be an exciting and unforgettable experience. However, it’s important to consider all aspects of the journey, from budget to safety, to make sure everyone has a great time.
By following the ten tips provided, you will be able to prepare for a successful and enjoyable family trip. If you have babies to fly with, check out our other guide for the best baby flying advice.
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