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5 Things Parents Should Do to Make Travel Easier

I’m always looking for ways to make travel easier.

Since the birth of my twins, I’ve learned a lot about traveling with kids– from how to make the airport experience less of a hassle, to stocking your fridge and cupboards for a breezy return. Here’s a few easy tips to make travel easier.

At Home

make travel easier

Plan the Re-entry

Leaving before a big family vacation usually has you cleaning out the refrigerator (mine likes to break while I’m away). My tip? Also think about when you’ll be arriving back home f and what food you want on hand. Nothing crazy, just enough for one or two meals. No one likes to come home after 10 hours of being in transit just to turn around and buy milk.

Some of my faves to have on hand:
1. Fresh unopened Milk, yogurt and eggs actually have a long shelf life
2. Parmalat
3. Frozen vegetables and meals
4. Boxes of macaroni & cheese

At the Airport  

Use Skycap

The Urban Myth is that these guys disappeared after 9/11. Not true! These curbside airport angels are a blessing to a family traveling with four gargantuan pieces of checked luggage. Do you really need one more line to wait in while you’re finagling moving a family en masse through a crowded airport? Nope.

Remove all that commotion and just have Skycap take your bags. Check ahead to see if your airline offers this service, which you’ll find in most major airports. Skycaps are located outside of the terminal at drop-off and they will check you in, print tickets and take your bags totally free, although a tip is customary to tip $3 – 4 dollars per bag. Now you’ll get to remove one snaking slow line from the two others (Security and the life-saving coffee stop).

For the Plane

make travel easier

The real way to benefit from the Pre-board

If you’re traveling with two adults, you in good shape to take advantage of a parent’s best friend. Nope, it’s not getting your kids situated on the plane during pre-board. A better tactic is for Parent #1 to use pre-board to bring on gear and bags to secure overhead bins. Parent #2 waits until the last boarding zone is called, then brings on small children.

This does two things:
1. Wears children out making them more eager to sit down.
2. Removes them from what is the most stressful part of the plane ride.  Lots of people shoving bags over their heads, soooo many announcements etc. Also, if children sit during the pre-board, they will be sitting for at least 45 minutes to an hour before take-off. You know that spells trouble!

At the Hotel

make travel easier

Ask about the concierge or business lounge.

In many hotels, there is a reserved floor with a dedicated and exclusive lounge area that provides meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day. Every hotel has different daily food presentations and asks a different price, but they all offer added convenience of breakfast as well as coffee, bottled water and snacks all day. Sometimes even alcohol is included or it’s an honor bar. There’s also the extra space to escape to when the hotel room gets a little snug.

This can tack on an extra $50 to $150 per room, but depending on how much you use it, it can make things a lot easier.

Things to ask your hotel:

  1. Exactly what the concierge lounge offers by way of meals and if it financially makes sense.
  2. If it’s open every day you are paying for it. Some business centric hotels won’t have it available on the weekends when all the road warriors are back home.

One Last Swim!

We all want to get that last swim or walk on the beach before we making the long trip home. However, no one wants to leave wet and sandy. Ask the hotel if there’s a Hospitality Suite. A lot of hotels (and especially resorts) offer a room reserved for guests to take a quick shower and get dressed after they’ve checked out. It’s best to ask beforehand or at check-in time. There’s usually a time limit and it’s customary to tip housekeeping.

What are some of your go-to lifesavers when traveling with kids? Share in the comments!

 

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. If you have a red eye flight I found it relaxing to book a spa appointment late afternoon. Had the day on the beach then got showered and pampered for dinner and a flight. Won’t work with kids.

  2. HI Samantha! Great tips! I have 4 kids and a couple used to be small a couple years ago (where’d the time go?), however these always worked for me and are my tried and true tips – 1) Before the trip for on the plane – buy a couple of small toys, and by small I mean not expensive, wrap them up, and give them out every half hour or hour or whenever your littles are bored with their regular toys. Make sure they are items that don’t have a thousand pieces to assemble. I have also done this with special treats they don’t always get at home. Who doesn’t love unwrapping a gift!. 2) On the plane – DVD players and movies, or anything that you can play movies they love. Airlines don’t always play kid friendly shows, so having something they are familiar with can help keep them calm and distracted. 3) I love your tip about one parent boarding. My tip is be one of the last to board, even if the hubs can’t get on before you to get all the bags situated. It lets the littles get all their “energy” out so they have to sit for the least amount of time possible. 4) Security – We call it “taking up the rear” – one parent is in front of the group leading, and the other, usually the hubs,is the the last one in line and the littles are in between, that way there are parents flanked on either side if one of your kids, or you, gets held back, then the other parent in front can make sure all the stuff, including the littles, are gathered up while you wait for security to get everyone through. 5) Getting to the airport – Get a limo! It is the best money ever spent if you have a large family. Getting to and from the airport can be SO hectic with a large family, so with all the luggage the chauffeur handles all the baggage in and out of the car from your house to the Sky-cap. Plus, the kids think the limo is the coolest thing ever. We have had wonderful drivers, so get referrals and just include it in your budget as part of making the trip a little more calm and sane. It is a lot more budget friendly than you think.

  3. I ckd out several of your travel dvds…and I want to tell you HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE (INSIDE and out) and what a “natural” you are on camera. I think it is amazing what you do…and the way you really connect with the local people and customs. And a MOTHER, too!!! Wow, that is just spectacular…Unfortunately, I have never traveled but just love, love, love how informative your videos are. It was your trip to Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong…that I absolutely loved and I vicariously traveled too. Thanks for all the hard work and dedication to your profession. YOU ARE A TRULY AMAZING WOMAN, MOTHER AND WIFE…Very sincerely…Gina Taay

    1. Gina I’ve always thought the same thing as you and I’m sure you said it much better than I ever could ! I also love watching her on HSN selling all her beautiful luggage and travel accessories.. I said in one of my comments where I bought a carry on piece which is so lovely that she is a ‘breath of fresh air’ and I could watch her all the time. I do hope you get to experience traveling one of these days. ‘Arm chair travel’ is nice but creating wonderful memories of people and places is something to behold.

  4. You are a beautiful and very talented professional…and such a “natural” at it. It is amazing how you really connect with the locals and their customs. I watched your video trip to Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong–it just took my breath away. You are extraordinary and so beautiful inside!! Thanks!!

  5. Took my sons to NYC during Thanksgiving in 1999. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Towers. The Concierge floor had an afternoon tea, and my 9 year old son, Matt , insisted on trying the caviar! I told him he could, but he could not spit it out if he didn’t like it ( he knew it was fish eggs). Well, the look on his face said it all, Lol! He drank a lot of tea after that taste!!

  6. You have excellent suggestions. For parents who think they want the bulkhead, you cannot keep any carry-on items, including the diaper bag. And the armrest doesn’t raise up. When the armrest goes up, a child can lay down to nap. Otherwise, the armrest makes a decent pony unless you don’t know the person sharing the armrest. Bring your own snacks. PBJ lasts at least 24 hours without spoiling. Airlines are sometimes enforcing using the toilet in your class, no more the closest. There 5 years ago some aircraft bathrooms had a pull-down changing table.

  7. You have excellent suggestions. For parents who think they want the bulkhead, you cannot keep any carry-on items, including the diaper bag. And the armrest doesn’t raise up. When the armrest goes up, a child can lay down to nap. Otherwise, the armrest makes a decent pony unless you don’t know the person sharing the armrest. Bring your own snacks. PBJ lasts at least 24 hours without spoiling. Airlines are sometimes enforcing using the toilet in your class, no more the closest. 5 years ago some aircraft bathrooms had a pull-down changing table. Fill your empty water bottles from the terminal drinking fountain. Have fun. Remember, kids only get cranky and whiny if they are tired or hungry. And bored, but I think bored only comes with needing food or a nap. I think many kids have sensory issues on planes. It gets overwhelming with the excitement, lights, sounds, and people. Is it legal to cable ties to prevent kicking the seat in front, repeatedly dropping or bouncing the tray or hard rocking, shaking the tray behind? Maybe ask the victim.

    If you ask the hotel for a crib, bring your own bedding, so call the actual hotel to find out. Mostly they are portacribs, maybe not with fitted washable sheets. Bring sanitizer wipes.

    Keep in mind that many shoes and feet have been on the carpet, from anywhere in the world, especially airplanes (bathrooms!). This is for when the floor of the plane is looking like a good place to play.

    Take Airborne if you can. You will have a better vacation if you don’t come back with a worldly virus.

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