Traveling With Children: 10 Vacation Tips for (an almost) Stress Free Trip
You’re looking forward to that long awaited family vacation and counting down the days. Suddenly, anxiety takes over and you begin fantasizing about the seemingly endless hours waiting in line at the airport wondering if you’ll make it through TSA without a hitch, or how you’ll keep your children entertained for hours at the airport and then on the plane. Oh, and how about schlepping the car seat, stroller, diaper bag and luggage around with kids in tow? YIKES!
Well, before you pick up the phone and cancel your reservations read our 10 Vacation Tips for A (almost) Stress Free Flight When Flying with Young Children. It just may help.
1. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends bringing an approved child restraint system (CRS), i.e. government approved hard-backed child safety seat. This is the safest place for your little one during turbulence or an emergency. If your child is between 22 and 44 pounds the FAA has also approved CARES, Child Aviation Restraint System, a harness-type restraint. Make sure your CRS is government approved and has "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft" printed on it. Otherwise, you may be asked to check the CRS as baggage.
Special Note: The FAA has banned the use on board aircraft of certain types of CRS that may be harmful to a child in the event of an aviation emergency. These include backless booster seats, safety belt extensions (commonly referred to as "belly belts"), and vest or harness devices that attach to an adult.
2. Ask the airline for a discounted fare. You will have to pay for a ticket for your child to use the CRS and often a discounted fare may be available. SouthWest uses the term “Infant fares”. You will need to show proof of age (i.e. birth certificate etc).
3. Airlines do allow children (usually 24 months and under) to fly free of charge when NOT occupying a seat AND traveling with an adult. However, the National Transportation Safety Board strongly suggests that all children fly using an approved safety seat or harness for their safety. Contact the airline for details regarding their policy.
4. International flights may offer the use of on-board bassinets that can be reserved for use free of charge. Contact the airline for information regarding their policy.
5. Ask the airline for help if you’ll be traveling alone with your child. Carrying a child seat, diaper bag and luggage through a busy airport with a small child can be challenging and stressful so, ask for help if you need it.
6. If you are flying internationally allow plenty of time to gather the required documents you will need for travel, i.e. birth certificates and passports. It can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to receive your passport after you’ve applied.
7. Become familiar with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) policies. Know what can be carried on board in your carry-on. If you are traveling with babies and toddlers, read the TSA’s “Important Information on Traveling with Formula, Breast Milk and Juice”.
Also, be aware that all baby gear, child-related equipment strollers and child restraints seats will need to go through the X-ray machine.
8. Pack your child’s favorite toy, blankee, coloring books and children's storybooks in a child sized backpack that he/she can carry. This will make them feel like a “big helper” and will keep him/her occupied at the airport and during flight.
9. Use a bag that serves the dual purpose as a purse / diaper bag. A backpack diaper bag is a great choice when you need to have both hands free and can easily hold plenty of diapers, bottles, wipes, snacks, change of clothes, formula, pacifier, baby teethers and baby food and still makes a place for important papers like tickets, boarding passes and passports.
10. Give your child something to eat or drink when the plane is taking off and landing. This may help alleviate ear pain caused by the pressure as the cabin adjusts to the altitude. And enjoy your trip!
by, Wendy Navarro, Owner Saige Nicole's baby and toddler boutique (www.SaigeNicoles.com)
Resources: Transportation Security Administration , Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of State