Family Travel: Making the Trip Less Stressful
By Jennifer Allman-Guinn, on March 16, 2020
The holidays are a wonderful time spent with family and close friends. But as festive as this time of year can be, it is equally as stressful, especially when your loved ones live far away. Adding children to the mix can only make the stress worse. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the stress levels and make holiday travel with children much easier.
Book the Right Flights
Flight delays are common during the holidays and can quickly send everyone into a meltdown. The best way to avoid this is to book early morning flights whenever possible, as delays are much less common. Layovers should also be avoided, as it prolongs the day and increases the chances of delayed and canceled flights
Once you’re at the airport, recognize that your kids will be cooped up in a tiny plane with almost no opportunity to move around. Within reason so as not to disturb others, allow them to get out some of their energy at the airport by walking with them to different shops and allowing them to play quiet yet active games. If you did book an early flight, you are also increasing the likelihood that they will want to sleep on the plane. Lastly, pre-boarding a flight means extended time on the plane, so this should be avoided with children.
Involve Children in the Planning
Children naturally feel more secure and invested when they are involved and know what to expect. When planning activities at your destination, ask your kids what they would like to do, and try to fit something into your schedule. Not only will this add positive excitement to the trip, but it’s a topic you can bring up at times when they are acting out or on the verge of a meltdown.
Flying, in general, can also be a scary experience for younger children. Talk with them ahead of time so they have an idea of what to expect. Explain the process of going through security and the fact that they will encounter many people, including TSA and flight staff and other travelers. Planes themselves are also very loud, so assure them that the noises they will hear won’t hurt them. Consider headphones for children who are more sensitive to loud and unfamiliar noises.
Long lines and crowds are unavoidable at the airport, especially during the holidays. But understanding the rules of travel can greatly reduce the time spent at the airport. If possible, gain TSA pre-check for the entire family in order to reduce wait times through security. Even better, take advantage of Global Entry or other programs in which you can bypass customs lines for international flights.
- Luggage rules can vary depending on the country and airline, so do your homework to ensure you know all the rules in terms of baggage weight, the number of bags you are allotted without extra fees, and the rules around liquids in carry-ons.
Lastly, understand that TSA agents are well within their rights to check all luggage, including wrapped gifts. It is best to wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap your gifts or, if possible, either do your shopping there or ship them ahead of time.
Part of efficient travel is also ensuring you have proper documentation well in advance of your trip. Remember to check APVI.com to ensure you have your passports and travel visas secured.