Travel - Tykemart (4)
TykeMart bloggers are world class travelers. They’ve traveled with kids on planes, trains, automobiles, and cruise ships. They share tips to help you find the best travel deals to stretch your vacation dollars. They write about popular travel destinations; where to stay and eat, and what to see and do with the kids once you get there. Road trips to shore trips, our bloggers are talking about it. Infants to teens, our bloggers share budget friendly ideas to keep kids of all ages entertained on the road. Feel free to join in the conversation, tell us about your favorite vacation ideas and share your travel tips.
TykeMart bloggers are seasoned cruisers. They have cruised with kids on many of the major cruise lines that cater to the North American market.
They share tips to help you find the best cruise deals. They share tips to help you get the most out of your cruise and stretch your vacation dollars.
From Alaska to Asia and points in between, our bloggers have cruised there. Learn little secrets that make your family cruise memorable.
Feel free to join in the conversation, tell us about your favorite vacation ideas and share your cruise tips.
Sooner or later many of us find ourselves online searching for the best travel deals. This is especially true when traveling with kids. Family travel can be costly and stressful.
The key to almost stress free travel with kids is planning. Know before you go! Avoid surprise charges; know luggage fees and limits; know airline, car rental, and hotel policies and amenities. Pack wisely and budget around the “extras”.
I’m online several times a year searching for the best deals when planning vacations with my kids and grandkids. Here are a few tips to help you plan.
Making travel arrangements:
Be informed about ticket options for kids and know what to expect. Infants on your lap saves money but can make travel challenging. Babies travel with strollers, diapers, and feeding supplies. Not only do you have to carry and keep track of baby, you must carry her stuff as well. Toddlers aren’t much easier, but at least they can carry some of their things.
- Child fares can cost more than discounted adult fares, especially from consolidators like Orbitz.com. Compare fares between consolidators and the airlines’ sites.
- Consolidators don’t allow online booking for unaccompanied minors – you must call them or the airlines for instructions on how to proceed
- Infants under 2 traveling domestically on your lap usually travel free but may not have any bag allowances. Check with your airline to avoid surprises.
- Know checked luggage fees, first and second bags are usually $25 and $35 respectively. A third checked bag can jump to $100+. Airlines constantly change luggage fees check luggage policies before you purchase and again before you pack.
- If you have a “lap” child and purchase tickets online, you must notify the airlines so that a “lap ticket” can be issued.
- “Lap” infants under 2 traveling internationally are charged an infant fare. Infants paying a fare can usually check and carry-on bags.
- First check bag is usually free on international flights but, infants may have a lower weight limit. Check with the airlines to be sure. Travel within a specific region may not be considered "international" by the airlines even if flying to different countries (i.e. Barcelona to London, Paris to Denmark, etc.) This means "domestic" baggage policies and charges may apply. However if your originating flight is from a different region and you connect somewhere then the international luggage policies will be followed (i.e. New York to Barcelona with a connection in London)
- Consolidators do not show a “lap” child fare for international travel, you must call them or the airlines for the fare.
- Booking on the airline’s site, such as United.com, allows you to include your “lap” child with your reservation and will quote the child an international fare. They will also issue a “lap ticket”.
- A “lap” child may be assigned a seat before boarding if the flight has empty seats. Check with your airline if this is among their policies.These seats will be assigned at the gate if it is available.
- Children 2 and above must pay a fare and must have a seat. They have the same luggage allowances as adults. Check with your airline to be sure.
- You may purchase a seat for your child under 2, in this case the child will have luggage allowances.
- Check luggage dimensions and weight limits. You’re usually allowed 2 carry-on bags, a small suitcase and a personal item (purse, laptop case, or camera bag). Items must fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. When traveling with lap infants check with the airlines if the non-paying infant is allowed a diaper bag as well, if not you must pack creatively.
- If your child has a paid seat his FAA approved car seat can be strapped to the plane seat. The car seat must be labeled “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”. Flight attendants look for this label, you may run into problems if it’s missing. If you get lucky and your "lap" child gets assigned a seat at the gate you can use your car seat if you haven't already checked it in. Should your child not get a seat you can gate check your car seat.
- To fit a coach seat the car seat should not be wider than 16”, lifting the armrest may accommodate a slightly wider car seat. Check with the manufacturer for instructions on how to install it on an airplane seat.
- Some airlines offer child meals on international flights it must be ordered before your flight.
- Some airlines provide portable cradles for infants to use during the flight. Check with your airlines to see if they have them. Make sure your seat assignment will accommodate its placement.
- Check your seat assignment when you get your ticket. Children are not allowed to sit in exit rows. If you’re seated in those rows you will be moved, it’s easier to change seats before your departure date. If that’s not possible, the gate agents will re-assign seats, but you may not get what you want, or large groups may be separated.
- Exit row seats and those in front of and behind them are sometimes cooler than the rest of the plane. If you’re in any of these rows you might want to bring a jacket or blanket to keep warm during your flight.
- Car Seats and strollers are checked free at check-in or at the gate. Be sure tags have your name and contact information. Consider purchasing a cover or bag for your gear to keep them clean in transit. Luggage handlers rarely treat items with care. Checked strollers and car seats are considered "special items", airlines may not pay for damage.
- If you don’t bring your own car seat you must contact the car rental or car service to request one. You can add car seats to your car reservations, there is a daily rental fee. Most car services I have used provide car seats for free, just let them know you need one.
- If you are renting a car from an airport location look for the signs for your rental company's shuttle. In most larger airports car rental facilities are located outside airport property and companies provide free shuttle service to their lots. You may bring your luggage on the shuttle, in most cases you must load your own luggage onto the shuttle. When we travel with several kids and have a lot of luggage we find it easier for one of the adults to pick up the rental and return for the others at the luggage claim area.
- If the hotel/resort you will be staying at offers airport shuttles look for signs in baggage claim directing you to hotel shuttles.
- If you have hired a car service look for your driver. Drivers usually wait right outside of baggage claim, they will be holding a sign with your name.
- If you've opted to take a taxi head to the taxi stand located outside of the baggage claim.
- Check children’s sleeping accommodations – some hotels provide cribs, and cots but may charge extra for them.
- You can bring your own portable crib; you must check it in at the airport. It will be considered luggage and may incur fees. Check with your airlines.
- Domestic hotels usually have larger rooms than foreign hotels. They usually allow kids to stay free with parents. Foreign hotels may charge per child and may limit occupancy to 3 people per room.
- Consider hotels that include breakfast with the rate.
- Consider a suite or executive level room. Included extras like breakfast, cocktails, and snacks might be worth the higher rate.
- Hotels closer to attractions may have higher rates but the cost may be offset if you don’t need ground transportation and have to pay for parking.
Your plans are set, you’ve got your tickets, rental car, and hotel; you know what you want to see and do. It’s time to pack!
When I travel alone or with my husband packing’s a breeze; throw things in a suitcase and we’re off; not so easy when kids are involved. When packing for kids my “hunter/gatherer” instincts kick in and I’m always tempted to over- pack.
Packing depends on several factors: how long, where, weather, and hotel’s facilities. If the hotel, resort, or cruise ship have Laundromats you don’t have to pack too much if you are willing to do laundry. Before packing I make a list of things I need then buy what I don’t have. Here are some tips to help you pack for your next vacation.
- If you don’t have one consider purchasing a baby sling or carrier. Carriers free up hands to carry luggage. There are many kinds like the sling carrier by Action Baby Carriers or the Ergo. One should fit your needs and budget.
- For children 8 months and older consider purchasing a “Ride-on Carry-on”. It’s a seat that straps to your rolling bag.
- Children 3 years and older can carry a small backpack or pull a child size rolling bag. I especially love the “Trunki”, a fun and colorful ride-on suitcase. Kids fill it with their “stuff” and roll it behind them or ride them – it has a long pull strap.
- Infants and toddlers use many disposable and consumable items, if you are checking in a bag filled with disposable diapers, bottle inserts, formula, and baby food consider packing them in a sturdy box instead. You can toss the box at the end of the trip and go home with one less bag. On the other hand I see a suitcase filled with these items as extra space for me to pack all the items I buy on the trip!
- Too busy to gather all the stuff or want to travel lighter? Check out www.babiestravellite.com. They make kid travel easy by shipping all your baby and toddler needs to your destination. Everything your child needs, including meals and formula, will be there when you arrive.
- Pack weather appropriate clothing. When we travel from Honolulu to the Mainland in the winter I make sure we have cold weather gear in our carry-on luggage.
- If you plan to nurse en-route a nursing cover allows you to nurse anywhere. For more privacy book a window seat.
- Gather/purchase all the items you want or need to carry-on the plane.
o Bottles (for hygienic and sanitary reasons consider using disposable inserts) and sippy cups
o Formula (put pre-measured powdered formula in multi-compartment plastic containers made specifically for this purpose) Like this formula container by Munchkin. It can be purchased at your local baby store or on Amazon.com.
Pacifiers and Teethers – Altitude changes may cause ear pain. Sucking on a pacifier or a bottle help open up ear tubes and alleviate the discomfort. Place pacifiers and teethers in a clear ziplock bag so security personnel can examine them without handling them.
o Changing pad, diapers, wipes, diaper creams, and plastic bags to dispose of dirty diaper Munchkin Arm & Hammer
o Any medication you need to take or to give baby – for international travel consider bringing OTC medication as well. Tylenol, Tums, etc. are available abroad, but may have different brands, if you don’t speak the language buying them can be difficult.
o Pack sunscreen, lotions, bath wash, and other liquids in checked luggage
o Change of clothes – for baby/toddler and you in case of accidents
o Blanket & small pillow – airlines don’t always provide them in coach, even if they do there’s the question of cleanliness – blankets and pillows aren’t laundered after each use. I find this unsanitary. I bring my own, even when traveling solo. US Airways flight attendants sell travel packs with a blanket, inflatable neck pillow, eye cover, and earplugs in a lightweight zippered pouch, last time I flew them it cost $7.
o Favorite stuffed animal – my grandson always travels with “Beef” his stuffed dog
o Toys, books, puzzles, coloring books & crayons, ipods, ipads, leap pads, headphones and other devices to keep the kids entertained en route
o Snacks – Buying snack at the airport or on the aircraft can be costly; they may not have your child’s favorites – don’t bring drinks from home, unless it is breast milk, juice, or formula, they will be confiscated by airport security.
o Pack snacks, toys, books, etc. on top for easy access. You don’t want to be unpacking and re-packing searching for that game your child wants to play.
o If you are attending a special event like a wedding consider hand carrying your event attire– airlines are known for loosing luggage
o Download games and ebooks for mobile devices. www.Family-Travel-Scoop.com sell downloadable and printable Fly it Quiet activity packs that entertain your kids with fun activities that teach them about your destination.
o Buy and install new batteries in devices that need them.
- Charge devices. Bring their respective chargers. Most gates have charging stations for your mobile device. Some aircraft are equipped with USB ports for passengers to use – check your airline to see where these ports are located and what type of chargers they accept – you may have to purchase an airplane charger, they are rather pricey.
Image by onmilwaukee.com
o Travel documents – tickets, car rental and hotel confirmations, etc. Most of these can be stored on your mobile device. Saving them electronically is convenient as long as you remember to bring your device. Don’t forget your passports if you are traveling internationally, this will be required at check-in.
o If traveling with children that are not yours without their parents you must have written consent signed by both parents. This is particularly true for international travel. When entering and leaving their country immigration authorities will ask for written parental consent at check points. I always have a notarized power of attorney from my children and their spouses when I travel with grandkids. You also need it to get the child medical care while traveling. Not having parental consent will cause you problems.
o Bring health insurance cards. Check out of town benefits before you leave home; each insurance provides different coverage. Most will probably not cover out of state doctor visits, but will cover emergency or urgent care visits when you’re out of state. They also will not cover medical expenses out of country, but some will reimburse you for emergency medical care. If you are traveling far for an extended length of time or have health concerns for anyone in your family traveling with you consider purchasing travel insurance. It will cover medical and travel emergencies while you are on the road. One such company is www.travelguard.com.
o Bring your credit or debit card. Airlines are cashless, if you want to purchase anything on board the only payment form accepted is a credit or debit card.
Wherever you’re going this summer safe travels!