Is the thought of stepping into a busy airport with your kids less than appealing? Read on for ten tips to help you navigate the airport and get to your plane on time.
1.Weigh your luggage at home. Most airlines will either refuse or charge extra for overweight bags. Check your airlineís policy to make sure your bags qualify. Pack a small duffel bag in your suitcase so you can lighten any overweight suitcases quickly. (You can check the duffel separately if you havenít exceeded your baggage allowance).
2.Have your kids carry their own bags. Ask them to carry their fully loaded bags around the house to make sure they arenít too heavy. If youíll need help managing suitcases, have your kids practice with those too.
3.Bring dollar bills. Stick them in your front pocket. Itís much easier to give tips when you donít have to dig in your wallet while trying to keep track of kids and luggage.
4.Bring a stroller. Even if your child hardly sits in it, itís a free baggage cart. Check the stroller at the gate and it will be there when you deplane.
5.Consider carrying your baby. If you think thereís a chance your baby wonít be content in his stroller, bring a baby carrier. A carrier frees up your hands and keeps at least one of your children right with you. Carrying your baby also frees up the stroller for older kids and luggage.
6.Arrive early and park as close to the gate as you can. This may sound obvious, but for years we parked in the economy lot and lugged everyone onto the shuttle bus. After the third child we came to our senses and started parking as close to the gate as possible. Itís well worth an extra few bucks to be able to roll right into the airport. Arriving at the airport earlier than you need to will allow time for any issues that crop up and let you feel more relaxed and less frazzled.
7. Divide and conquer. If youíre traveling with two adults, have one adult deal with checking in, labeling the bags, looking at maps, and dealing with baggage claim. This allows the other adult to focus on keeping the kids safe and entertained.
8. Wear young kids out. Seek out airport play areas. If there isnít one, take the kids for a long walk after checking in. Go buy water or snacks, visit the bathrooms, make a last-minute diaper change, find an empty gate and look at the planes, anything to get some energy out before they have to board the plane.
9.Warn them about airplane security. Young children may find the process scary, especially if they have brought a favorite comfort object. The thought of putting those precious things into that dark x-ray machine tunnel is not a happy one. Talk about it beforehand, explaining that they will have to put everything (including their shoes) into a bin so it can have its picture taken. Donít be surprised if your kids flip out, at least the process is short.
10.Board last. Many airlines allow families with children to board first. Depending on your childís temperament, this may or may not work for you. Itís nice to get settled into an empty plane, but you may be waiting quite awhile for take-off. One solution is to have another adult board with any car seats or large bags you have, they can set up inside the plane while the other adult keeps the kids outside the plane for as long as possible.