Last year was not a traveler friendly year. From sweeping delays to massive cancellations on major airlines to complete meltdowns in the Federal Aviation Administration’s computer systems, travel has never been more difficult. When you add traveling with kids to the mix, things don’t just get a little confusing.
Imagine being stuck in an unfamiliar city for hours or even all night. You can only carry personal items or carry-on baggage. No one knows where your checked baggage is. Your only dining options are days-old ready-made sandwiches, long lines for fast food, or expensive table service restaurants.
Now imagine being in that situation with your children. small children. Or baby.
“Preparation is key,” says Summer Hull, director of travel content and family travel columnist. point guyHal travels frequently with children in tow. “We escaped a travel nightmare this year,” she says.
Emily Krause agrees. She is a family travel expert and her brand, A Mom Explores, shares six family travel adventures. Krause’s best advice? “Check your carry-on and personal item inventory and plan to add at least one extra day of essentials.”
What to prepare for “just in case” of travel disaster
After taking nearly 50 flights with four children ages 3 to 9, Klaus has learned a few lessons about preparing for snafus while planning a trip. She always has extra diapers and wipes, ready-to-eat formula or baby milk in bags, and “lots of treats,” she told Yahoo Life. “For example, much more snacks than you think you need. When Children. “
Nursing mothers can also check to see if the airport has dedicated nursing rooms or pods. And thanks to laws like the Mother-Friendly Airports Act passed in 2018, medium- and large-sized airports now require private rooms for pumping and breastfeeding. “When I travel with my baby, I always carry a large scarf to use as a nursing cover or nap blanket,” Krause says. “Of course, if you can comfortably breastfeed in public without a cover, that’s fine too.”
If your child isn’t into refrigerated or room temperature milk or formula, you have two options. The first is to invest in a cordless bottle warmer. This is especially useful when you’re stuck on the tarmac with a hungry baby on an airplane with no outlets. Another option, if she’s hives trying to pack one more gear in her backpack, ask for a large half-filled cup of hot water at the airport and soak the bottle in the water for a few minutes to warm it up.
Years of covering battery-draining theme parks have also taught Krause how to carry multiple power banks and make sure their electronics are getting power. Also, bring multiple outlet he plugs or USB ports in case you are lucky enough to find one for free. “That way, you don’t have to hunt stores all over the airport,” she says. “Only one outlet can power all her tablets, phones and laptops.”
Don’t forget to have some extra corded headphones in case your AirPods don’t last long.
How to deal with lost luggage and other luggage blues
Today’s travel essential is the Apple AirTag. Throughout the holiday season, the press reported on millions of lost bags and his AirTags that helped owners find them. Android users have a generic tile tracker that works the same.
Hal remembers returning from a family ski trip to the “baggage apocalypse” at the Houston airport. “We had ski gear and obviously had to check our bags,” she says. Baggage claim. ”
“It was a mess,” continues Hal. “It was already 90 minutes after the plane landed. We were late. We were tired. It helped me find it while others were still looking.”
These kinds of stories (and her own personal experiences) have led Krause to have a “no checked baggage” policy during family trips. “We were constantly missing our luggage. One day, we decided to travel with carry-on only from then on,” she says. “But if you run out of carry-on space, you may also need to check your carry-on. is extremely important.”
Checking strollers and car seats is common practice, but any cancellations or delays after checking can spell disaster. “This is why we always bring child seats on planes,” says Krause. “Other than that, it’s the safest way for kids to travel by air.” There are options to make car seats more comfortable to carry, including luggage straps, backpack bags, and folding car seat options made for travel. We have a lot.
For strollers, consider opting for an ultra-compact collapsible stroller that fits in the overhead compartment of an airplane. Many of the most popular travel strollers accommodate both toddlers and babies 6 months and older.
Another option is a cloth baby wrap or sling (which doubles as a nursing cover, swaddle, or even a blanket) and a lightweight collapsible infant carrier if you really want to ditch the stroller and car seat at the departure desk. , or a compact hip carrier for your personal belongings.
During Airline Disruption, Be Proactive…and Be Your Family’s Advocate
“Being proactive with airlines in these situations will open up more options,” Hull said. She explains that simply waiting for airlines to allocate rebookings is unlikely to produce the desired results. That’s why we encourage you to come to a gate agent and have a suitable option for you and your family. Let the company rebook you,” she says. “Not all delay situations apply, but it’s never a bad idea to consider it as an option.”
Use all available communication options, says Hull. “Get in line, but call the airline directly while you’re there, hit Twitter to see if you can get the attention of the social media team, or text or DM her try,” she says. “If you speak Spanish or the native language of an international airline, try a line that may have a faster connection time to an agent. It depends on what you can do.”
Hull also suggests asking for a refund if you have to make a decision about travel, i.e. whether to travel or not. He later could also write an email or letter to the airline and express his concerns.
How to avoid family travel troubles when booking
Before you book your trip, you can implement some failsafes. Hull says they will try to eliminate connections at the time of booking if possible. “If you’re traveling with kids, it’s always best to go in person, especially when you get home and everyone’s tired and grumpy,” she says. It dramatically reduces sex.”
Hull also advocates having a suitable credit card in your wallet to make family travel as easy as possible. “If you choose one with lounge access, at least if you’re stuck at the airport, you’ll have a more comfortable place to wait,” she says. There’s even a ‘Minute Suite’, a dark room where you can take a nap and recharge your energy for the journey.
What to do if you need an overnight stay due to an airline delay
Unscheduled hotel stays don’t have to be a nightmare. Krause says all he wants from an overnight hotel is a free airport shuttle (“for a family of six he doesn’t have to worry about taking an Uber”) and a free continental breakfast for him. Is called. “When kids wake up, they need a good breakfast to keep them energized,” she says. It’s a good idea to call the hotel ahead of time to see if they have pack-n-play or fold-down cots if you have a baby or toddler.
For Hal, proximity is a top priority when choosing a hotel to stay. “I always choose an airport hotel over other options to take the stress out of transportation,” she says. “I love Hyatt. [located inside of the] Orlando International Airport. Go beyond that and choose the newest hotel. If you can’t get a hotel physically connected to the airport, they are your best bet. ”
At this point, travel planning stumbling blocks feel almost guaranteed. However, by planning ahead and being proactive during your trip, you can minimize the negative impact of circumstantial delays and cancellations, and have stories to tell and unique advice to share.
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