*This post is brought to you in collaboration with World Baggage.
I can think of only few things more exciting in life, than to travel somewhere new. The anticipation and experience of a family vacation, to a new and undiscovered destination (or an old favourite) is truly fantastic. For kids as well, the thrilling and intoxicating excitement of plane travel, is immense!
While us adults of the family have clocked-up loads of international air travel in our pre-parenting days, we've really only ventured close to home as a family for obvious reasons. Sticking with domestic locations is both convenient and cost-friendly when you've a large brood to tow along.
One of the biggest differences about travel by air with kids is, well, everything! From the expense, planning, buying, groundwork and documentation, to the packing and arranging of the plethora of finer and important details; these are just some of the mountainous areas of work to be undertaken before you even walk out your door. It can certainly leave you with a sense of is it all worth it? But of course, we all know it is!
Here are some of the tips we implement when planning any air travel with our children.
Prepare your kids in advance. As soon as you have settled on a destination, include your kids in the excitement. Show them the hotel online or in brochures. (Mine like to choose their beds from the pictures, months in advance!) Tell them about the flights, how long they will take and when it's all set to happen.
Once you've booked your holiday, inform the kids' school teachers so that they know to provide them with any school work if applicable. Remember the cheapest time to go on vacation is during school terms. Not all schools are happy with this fact, but as we all know, saving money wins when it comes to vacations!
Enlist the help of a travel agent to organise your travel documents, passports if required, and transfers. You can do this yourself online of course, but it's always worth getting a quote on anything you intend from an expert too, just to be sure you are getting a great deal. It's also quite a timesaver.
Book your travel as far in advance as you can manage. This enables you to find the best price at the time you prefer. It can also assist you to score your preferred booking time and seats together on any planes to your destinations. You might like to wait for advertised airline sales to secure the best deal if you have the luxury of a lot of time ahead. This can save you even more on your holiday in the long run.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with your chosen airline's packing requirements for both on-board and undercarriage cloaking. Going over-limit can cost you an absolute packet in airport charges, plus too much luggage going anywhere is never advisable, as no doubt, you will return home with at least 50 percent more! There's nothing quite like the joy of shopping when travelling and kids are really wonderful at persuasion when it comes to buying souvenirs. Even clothing!
Keeping this in mind, it's wise for families to pack at least three daytime outfits each, (think: one on, one off, one in the wash), plus two sets of sleepwear. This won't overburden your suitcases and make for a manageable quantity of stuff to lug about. It's also a good idea to pack an extra bag or smaller suitcase within a larger case for your extras you anticipate carrying home.
Thankfully, there is a solution if you do go overboard with your holiday buying and airline luggage allowance. World Baggage is a baggage courier company that will ship your excess baggage home for much less than what the airlines charge and from anywhere in the world including domestically in Australia. That's certainly peace of mind if you love shopping! You can get a quote, book your schedule and pay; all online. You can even track your bags the entire way home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In the days prior to your journey, have the kids pack a small carry-on filled with toys and games that they will enjoy on the plane to keep them out of your hair. Make sure you inspect their chosen gear to ensure there are no play weapons too, as these may be confiscated by security! Pack pencils, paper, travel games, colouring books and novels. Make things more interesting for them by buying a few extras pre-holiday so that there's some surprise factor involved. Now is the perfect time to purchase your kids some small exciting item they've been craving like mad!
Make sure that you are very familiar with airport distance and travel and check-in times. Your airline may request arrivals two hours prior to departing. As a general rule with kids, throw an extra hour on for caution and make it three hours ahead. Kids are masters of faffing at the best of times and on the big day, no matter how organised you think you are, someone will invariably lose a shoe, require first aid or discover a hole in their bag - you name it! Be prepared for everything and anything.
Arriving early at the airport also gives you the freedom to dine there which kids love! Use it as a bribe for continued excellent behaviour before boarding your plane. There will be few complaints if little tummies are well-stocked before plane travel and it may even send some of them off to sleep. Massive bonus!
Dress the entire family comfortably for plane travel. Loose clothing, comfortable shoes and pants will reduce the stress kids feel sitting for hours on a plane. This will also assist if anyone is singled out for an airport security scan and pat-down.
Don't forget to pack sealed, store-bought packaged snacks (avoid fruits for quarantine reasons, even domestically) and make sure you have a pack of trusty lollipops and nibbles to control errant children in the worst of times.
For more specific tips for flying with babies and toddlers see this post, or for a comprehensive A-Z of packing guide for families, check this one out. For family road-trip tips see here. For gorgeous travel gear designed just for kids, you can't go past these beautiful kids' suitcases and bags by children's designers Gooie.
Good luck planning your journey!
How do you manage air travel with kids?
Have I missed something? What would you include?