Are you traveling by plane for spring break with babies, toddlers, or young children in tow? These five tips are essential for surviving and thriving during spring break air travel with kids.
1) Give yourself a little extra time at the airport.
Just as with other holiday periods, airports will be crowded during peak spring break weeks, especially if your children’s break falls right around Easter. Give yourself a few extra minutes at the airport if you have young kids to account for full parking lots or long airport security lines.
2) Check your seat assignments. Then check them again. And again.
Many airlines are notorious for separating parents from their young children. Even if you’ve paid extra for seat assignments or select seats, airlines sometimes have IT issues or equipment swaps that make you lose those seat assignments together as a family. Check your reservation at least a week before your trip to make sure your seat assignments are still intact. Check again about 24-48 beforehand so you can spot any potential problems and call the airline for help if something has gone awry. If you are still separated from your kids on flight day, get to the airport early and talk to the gate agent. You may be stressed about the uncertainty of the situation, but civility and kindness are essential and often solve the problem.
3) Check the weather.
Even if you are headed somewhere sunny, spring break travel can sometimes still be affected by winter weather, particularly if you are connecting in colder airports like Chicago or Denver. In other parts of the country, spring thunderstorms could be a culprit. Make sure to check weather at your originating airport, connecting airport, and destination to see if storms could result in a delay.
4) Bring lots of snacks and distractions.
Airlines are offering fewer and fewer snack choices, and many do not have options that a picky eater would find palatable. Besides, those in-flight meals are expensive! Instead, pack a wide variety of non-perishable snacks (see my post on 50 snack ideas for flights for lots of choices).
As for entertainment, many more airlines offer in-flight WiFi and entertainment options than did a few years ago. Nevertheless, you cannot rely on the airlines to entertain your children. Those systems can break or you might simply get an old plane that doesn’t have the latest equipment yet. Bring a tablet or other device loaded with apps or videos as well as some non-electronic entertainment like coloring books. (Need some ideas for entertaining a toddler? Check out what I pack in my toddler’s airplane carryon bag.)
5) Know your airline.
Not all airlines are created equal. Some airlines now have differing rules that can really be a trap for the unwary, including infrequent traveling families. If you don’t fly often (or haven’t flown a particular airline in a while), do your homework on the policies that might affect a family like yours. Here are some key questions you want to consider and plan for:
- Does your airline let you check a bag for free?
- Does your airline charge for carry on bags (a few low cost carriers like Spirit do!)
- Can you pre-board with your children if you’d like?
- Do you have an advance seat assignment?
Are you traveling by air for spring break? Share your tips for spring break travels in the comments.