Saturday, February 24, 2007

Flying with Family? Air Travel Tips

Planning a family vacation that will take you far from home? If you are, then it is quite likely that, much like millions of others, you will be booking a flight for your jaunt. And why not? After all, air travel is the quickest and, even with today’s restrictions, most convenient, cost-effective, and safe way to get where you need to go. Air travel with the whole family, especially with younger children, needs to be well planned, though, to make it an enjoyable rather than horrifying experience. From the entertainment of the kids to planning the minimum amount of interruptions or delays, a bit more thought needs to be involved.

Kids love airplanes, so if the children are older, they should be easily entertained by the experience of flight. However, smaller children, with more needs and much shorter attention spans, may require some craftiness on the part of the parent. First and foremost, anything that you think you may want to have on hand while onboard needs to be compliant with current rules and regulations of both the individual airline and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Information can be found on the web, and it is generally quite current, so checking the restrictions the day before or even the day of travel can assure you that you will be allowed to board with your carry-on items. This will include toys for the kids, food items to soothe them or generally keep them sated, and so forth.

Also, air travel with the kids may need to be modified when considering the schedules the kids are used to. Smaller children are creatures of habit, and any deviation from their routine can cause quite a problem, as any parent can attest. Consider how long a particular flight may last. What is best for your family—a really long flight, or a layover in another airport? Another point of air travel that may not matter to adults, but can be a huge problem for families, is whether you want to have the children on a very crowded flight. If you would rather be on the plane with fewer people for the kids to disturb, then book accordingly. Choose off-peak times and dates for your air travel, if possible.

In the end, air travel with the children is still the best bet for going long distances. Though extra planning and possibly extra items need to be taken into consideration, air travel for the family is the absolute best way to get where you need to be, and quickly.