Family Vacation: How to Book Your Flights and Think Ahead

Although reduced travel costs make it tempting to book your family vacation online, when traveling with small children, stick with a travel agent. A travel agent can work with your family’s preferences and assist you if you miss a connection or get bumped from a flight. Since inclement weather and the large number of people traveling during at peak times make these possibilities more likely, it is crucial to have an experienced agent on your side.

Although many parents want to get the travel part of their family vacation over quickly, many families with small children are finding that it is better to schedule one or two day layovers into their trip. Think about how difficult it is for a child of two to travel on an airplane all day long. Recently, we took a family vacation to Disneyworld. We flew from Reno to Orlando and I had to wake my kids up at 4:30 a.m., so we could be at the airport by 6. After leaving Reno on a two and one-half hour flight to Dallas, we had a three-hour layover. By the time we made it to our hotel in Orlando, it was close to 2 a.m. As you can imagine, the trip was tough on the kids and exhausting for the adults.

family vacation

By breaking air travel into chunks, you help your child start out the family vacation on the right foot. (A two-hour plane ride is pushing it for a toddler. On a crowded flight, your child will most likely be restricted to his seat for the duration.) For instance, using my family vacation as an example, after landing in Dallas, we could have spent some time at a place of local interest, stayed in a hotel and continued our journey to Orlando the next day. Although this method means that it takes you longer to get to your final destination, it makes the journey more enjoyable. Instead of arriving at 2 a.m. bone-tired and bleary-eyed, you and your family will arrive refreshed and ready for fun.

A planned layover on your family adventure can include a trip to a theme park, an historical site or a visit with distant cousins whom you haven’t seen in ages. Rather than meeting with extended family between flights at a noisy, overcrowded airport, you can visit their home or ask them to give you a tour of the city.

To prevent the scenario where you get stuck in the airport due to a canceled flight or inclement weather, you can book a hotel room in the connecting city, just in case. As long as long as you cancel your reservation by 6 p.m., the hotel will not charge you for the room. This is a great way to ensure peace of mind when you know that your family vacation will involve connections. If you haven’t traveled in a decade or so, know that airlines no longer provide free accomodations if your flight is canceled. This makes booking a just-in-case reservation a smart thing to do.

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