Travel Tips for Families

Travel tips for families

Multi-generational travel is currently one of the largest and fastest growing segments in the travel industry.  Kids, grandkids, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, they all hop onboard when the price is right and the destination is inviting.

Traveling with people of all ages presents some rather unique complications.  Does anyone in your group require special assistance, have mobility issues, or have lots of gear (aka baby stuff)?  Those situations require a little extra planning just to be sure the trip is stress-free.

First of all consider what time of day you’re going to travel, even what day of the week.  Busy weekends can make travel more stressful, especially if you need extra time or assistance.  Early morning departures (as in 5AM) are usually the least crowded any day of the week.  Late morning flights and even afternoon departures are also less crowded than those flights departing between 7AM-11AM.  Avoid the crowds traveling on weekends if possible.

How is your flight schedule going to affect the younger children?  Are you leaving so early they’ll be miserable?  What about their nap times?  If you can manage to be flying during their regular nap times you’ll be glad you did.

Can you travel on nonstop flights? Those are usually preferable to flights with layovers, especially when traveling with a group or with the especially young or especially old.  It’s nice to bang your way down the aisle, stow your gear in the overhead and squish your family into their seats only once. 

If you are forced to fly with layovers keep the times in between flights working for you, not against you.  A layover that’s too short will have you running through the airport, dragging grandma, the kids and gear behind you.  A layover that’s too long will have everyone ill-tempered and worn out by the time you arrive at your final destination.

Take advantage of pre-boarding options and get settled with the oldest and youngest members of your group prior to the rush and crush of other travelers boarding.  Ask for a wheelchair assist.  Even for people who are mobile, larger airports can be exhausting for aged travelers. 

Always bring your own snacks on the plane.  The snacks onboard have dwindled down over the years to a two or three bite morsel at best.  Nothing keeps kids busier than working their way down a Twizzler.  This is especially important if your flight is delayed after boarding, everyone gets tired and irritated and a little snack helps break the boredom.

By the way, did you know there are no microwaves onboard your planes?  If you need to heat a bottle for a baby the stewardess will have unique ways of handling it, but don’t expect it to be fast.

Does your family enjoy games or other activities?  Doug and I always have at least one deck of cards in our carry on, you can kill a lot of time playing gin rummy on a long flight.  Good books, games on your phone or iPad, these are excellent diversions for family groups and help the time pass more quickly.

Be patient, kind and considerate.  Travel is full of unexpected circumstances, especially when traveling by air.  Weather, traffic, mechanical issues, illness, security issues, and other general craziness can throw a serious monkey wrench into your perfectly planned itinerary.  The top priority of any airline is to get passengers to their destinations safely.  Running the schedules smoothly takes second place, and it’s a distant second. 

Take a deep breath, expect the best but be prepared for the worst.  Life is good and you and your loved ones are going on vacation!


Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805