My Top 10 Family Travel Tips
- Be Prepared : Double (and triple) check your flight status and gate number, pack your bags and passports to TSA regulations well in advance, and know beforehand who is responsible for carrying what through the airport. With five kids, it was nice that I wasn’t stuck dragging all of the suitcases…my two oldest boys were happy to help!
- E-Boarding Passes : This one was a life-saver! We saved so much time by not having to check in and print out our boarding passes there. And the lines to check in our bags were miraculously short. Definitely worth printing the boarding passes at home!
- Remind them about security rules : Before snaking through security lines with the kiddies, remind them of the rules about taking their shoes off, putting their belongings on the moving conveyor belt, and of course, not making “bomb” jokes under any circumstance.
- Liquids and carry-ons : Make sure you’re familiar with the TSA 3-1-1 guidelines and the carry-on regulations for your airline, but don’t be afraid to carry on as much formula and breast milk as you need for your little one! Also, bring extra snacks for your other children as some flights, even longer ones, don’t offer food service on board.
- Ignore your fellow passengers : This one was a toughy for me. As soon as we boarded the plane, the folks near us immediately started grumbling about my five kids and talking about needing earplugs. It can be so disheartening to find yourself in a situation where the people around you are so unwelcoming! But, I got my sweet revenge because my five kiddies were absolutely a delight – thank goodness! It’s best in these situations to focus on yourself and your family’s needs, not on the grumpy passengers around you!
- Safety First : Airports can be daunting for little ones. Make sure your kids stay with you at all times and, if they are older, like my boys were, have them carry their passport in a secure pack around their neck. I wanted them to practice that for later trips. Give your kids instructions for what to do if you do happen to lose sight of each other (God forbid!) and make sure they know your phone number in case they get lost.
- Set ground rules : Before taking off, it was good to remind my children of some basic rules when it comes to flying. First, there was no kicking the seat in front of you, keeping your voices relatively quiet, and helping out a sibling if they needed anything. With five kids in two rows of seats, it was hard to keep an eye on everyone at once, but I felt better knowing they knew what I expected from them.
- Screen time : Usually I am a big stickler about limiting TV time at home, but when it comes to flying, those rules went out the window! It was nice for my kids to be able to plug in their headphones and watch their favorite movies on the plane. It definitely kept them quiet and distracted for a while!
- Bring activities : Once your kids are settled in for the long flight or car ride, bring out the books! My boys love to read, and my girls loved having sticker books to play with. Again, a great activity that will keep them relatively quiet and distracted.
- Sleep : This one was tough. Even though we had our own pillows and blankets, finding a comfortable position to get to sleep was hard. I got very little sleep on the way to Spain and it was a mixed bag for my kids. I decided to forego an afternoon nap (*gasp*) and put them to bed early that night. It seemed to do them some good. We all got a decent amount of sleep and were ready for the next day!
Any more tips on traveling with kids on a plane or by car? Let me know in the comments below! Also, I would love to hear any memorable stories from your trips with your kiddies!