The holidays are here and if you’re planning on traveling with kids, then you need to add these tips to your checklist. Traveling opens up a world of experience and opportunities to expose our children to. It should be fun and enjoyable.
We recently traveled as a family to Turks and Caicos, and learned some lessons along the way. So if you want to keep your sanity, here are four critical tips for holiday travel with kids:
Pack your patience
This is a great nugget my friend of Passenger156 shared on Periscope. The holiday season is already a busy travel season. Everyone just wants to get to where they planned with as few hiccups as possible. Throw in bad weather, delayed flights, grumpy people and it could make for a not-so-great travel experience.
But now, security is an all-time high with all of the threats or terrorists floating around. So if you’re traveling this holiday season, not only do you need to pack your patience for the normal busy holiday travel season, but you need to pack a whole life’s worth of patience for the heightened security. Lines will be longer. Security will be tighter. Try to keep the peace as much as possible for your own sanity.
Arrive at the airport an hour earlier than you think you need to be there
Let me tell you how TSA tried to put a dent in our travel plans before we even got started! We had a 6:59AM flight so we arrived at the airport at 4:15AM because we wanted to change our seating on our connection flight. They told us to get there as early as possible. That means we had three kids up and out the door by 3:30AM. We get in line, one of the attendants told us it would be faster to do everything at the kiosk because the line was so long. Ok, no problem. I enter in all five of our passports and personal ID info into the kiosk…15 or so minutes later, it wouldn’t take our info.
Long story short, we waited and waited for someone else to help us. Finally after at least 45 minutes, we were off to TSA to get through security…or so we thought. We get through the line for them to check our boarding passes and passports and not ONE of our boarding passes would scan. What did they do? They sent us back upstairs with all three kids to get them to reprint our passes. So yeah, thank God we had gotten there extra early. And thankfully the kids were too excited about getting on the plane to be bothered with the tomfoolery.
Pay close attention to connection flights
This sounds pretty straight forward. But we learned a big lesson on connection flights between international and domestic destinations. Going to Turks and Caicos we had a connection in Miami… so no problems there. Coming back from Turks and Caicos was the issue. We had a connection flight in Charlotte, which means re-entry into the US. Do you know what that means? It means we had to get off the plane, go through customs, collect our baggage, re-check our bags, go back through TSA, find our gates and then wait to board our connection flight.
Oh and keep in mind that gates change all the time, and ours did at the last minute, which added on an extra 10-15 min to find the new one. We had less than an hour between connection flights to get this all done and thankfully we made it. Otherwise, we would’ve had to wait another 3 hours for the last flight into DC. Or, we very well may have needed to stay a night in Charlotte which could’ve been disastrous.
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Have a loose schedule in place prior to leaving
If you’re mixing business with pleasure, like we did, add on a few extra days. We added on four outside of the conference so we could really enjoy the island and our trip. We knew there would be activities and had prepared for some ahead of time. But we also had a loose enough schedule that as other things came up, we could adjust accordingly. I’m so glad we did because the kids were glued to the kids’ camps at the resort. There were so many activities so we were able to get an idea of the things we wanted to do ahead of time, and plan accordingly. But when things came up we didn’t know about (like baking cookies with THE Cookie Monster), we weren’t thrown off track.
Let each of the kids pack their own small suitcase or backpack
My kids felt so empowered and in charge when they got to pack their own backpacks and carry them around on their own. It really is the little things. Inside each of their backpacks, they had: headphones, a tablet, coloring book with markers, a blanket, snacks and other small games or toys. We made sure not to over pack them so they wouldn’t get tired of holding them. And in fact, we had to beg them to put them down when we got to the resort as we waited for our room LOL. I wanted to find a small suitcase their size with rollers, but honestly, their backpacks worked out perfectly for what they carried in them.
There are many more things that I enjoyed and learned on our trip to Turks and Caicos, but these travel tips were critical.
BMWK: Do you travel during the holidays with your kids? What tips would you add to the list?