Flying with Your Family on Spring Break: Our Best Air Travel Hacks

Spring Break isn’t just for college students. Taking the whole family on a spring vacation has become tradition for a lot of people. And as much as air travel can be stressful, add in the kiddos and you have a recipe for some serious anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Just follow CheapAir’s air travel hacks for a smooth and (dare we say) relaxing flight!

Book Seats for the Whole Family

family air travel

These days, with more airlines offering a la carte and some form of a “Basic” Economy fare, travelers need to pay close attention to what they’re buying when they pay for a basic fare. And when you’re traveling with the kiddos, you’ll want the extra assurance that booking a ticket means you’ll get to sit together. Basic Economy seats do not come with a specific seat assignment, which means if you don’t pay to upgrade to one, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be seated next to your husband or kids (though, children under 12 are required by law to be seated with at least one parent). We say its worth the extra dough to keep everyone together.

Skip Pre-boarding!
You might be tempted to get on board early when you’ve got small kids in tow, but we like to hang back in the airport and let everyone expend as much energy as possible before boarding. Tired kids are preferable once you’re on board. Wear them out as much as you can, that’s our tried-and-true MO.

Don’t Sit Next to Your Spouse If You’re Flying with an Infant
Huh? Didn’t you just say to make sure you’re all seated together? Why yes we did. But there’s an exception to every rule and this is our one exception. Here’s the rationale. When you have an infant, flying can be pretty stressful for you and your fellow passengers. Babies CRY on airplanes! Also, people LOVE babies on airplanes. In addition, you and your husband probably haven’t had much rest and relaxation since the little bundle of joy came into your life. Just sitting in different parts of the plane can be a lifesaver.

family air travel

Here’s how it works. When you take turns holding the baby in different parts of the plane, it gives your little one different things to look at (more distraction equals less fussiness), and it will give each of you time to decompress and chill a bit (maybe with a glass of wine, even!) It may be tough to do for international flights, but for shorter, domestic hops we say divide and conquer that fussy baby syndrome!

Give Your Kids Ownership Over Their Entertainment
We give our kids agency over their in-flight fun in a number of ways, but first and foremost they pack and bring their own “fun” backpacks. Younger kids probably need a little assistance packing themselves up, but a small backpack that they carry themselves always adds to the excitement and responsibility. We always sneak a surprise snack and small toy in the bag, for the added novelty!

Got a Baby? You Might Need a Change of Clothes
For the kiddo, yes. But a change of clothes for you might not be a bad idea either. This is for sure a worst-case scenario hack, but personal experience with this one made me a believer. I’ll never forget the time I was traveling with my 8-month-old and wished I had brought a change of clothes. Not for him – of course we had a change of clothes for him! That would have been a rookie mistake. No, when he vomited on that evening flight we had him covered. What we were not prepared for was for him to be sick all over me! I didn’t have a single thing to change into in my carry-on. When we landed late night at our connecting airport, everything was closed except for a newsstand where we were able to purchase a giant t-shirt. Not ideal, but we made it work. When you have little kids, do yourself a favor. Bring along a change of clothes for the kiddo, mom and dad.

Disinfect that tray table

family air travelTo be honest, this tip should be on everyone’s list – not just the kids. The tray table is the most bacteria-prone place on the plane, statistically speaking. The last thing you want to do is show up to your vacation with a sick kid. Wipe it down with some anti-bacterial wipes. You’ll thank us later.

That’s it! If you’re looking for some family-friendly destinations this year, check out our post on the topic!

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