by Jana Veliskova, Birth Center Mama
When my first boy was born, I promised myself that I would never stop wanderlusting and that I would expose him to as many different countries, cultures, languages, and experiences as possible. Now with two boys in tow, we’re going full speed ahead.
How do you do it?
- ChaChing!! Air travel is expensive! Regardless of your budget, adding an extra traveler (or two, three, or four!) tends to lighten the wallet. This was one of my biggest fears, but amazingly now I spend less on travel than I did when I didn’t have children and my family travels more often.
- Learn to use the ITA Matrix. This piece of software from Google enables you to search airfares by putting in a range of airports at both your origination and destination, various ranges of dates, etc.
- Be flexible and patient – especially when booking leisure travel. Check out blogs such as The Flight Deal for great deals. You don’t need to book a flight six months out – and in most cases, it’s disadvantageous to do so! Learn what a good price to the area that you’re flying to is by looking at past deals, and wait for a deal to appear. Book the deal as soon as it pops up.
- Familiarize yourself with cancellation policies. For flights originating in the US, US law mandates that airlines have a 24-hour cancellation policy without a cancellation fee. (Word of warning: some airlines get around this by allowing you to “hold” your fare for 24 hours without a fee.) This can allow you to book a great deal, and if it doesn’t work for your family, you can cancel it without worry.
- For emergency and last minute plane trips, booking with reward points/miles is generally the most budget-friendly way to go. If you don’t have points/miles, sometimes booking a higher class (premium economy, business, or first) can get you a better price.
- Beware of budget airlines and “Basic” economy. When flying with a family, extra fees for carry-on luggage, checked bags, printing boarding passes, etc. can really add up. Take these hidden fees into consideration when booking.
Car seats! Car Seats! Car Seats!
- The FAA recommends that children in car seats use them on board. Despite allowing children under the age of two to fly on your lap for free domestically and for approximately 10% of the ticket cost internationally, it’s safer for them to have their own seat and it is recommended by the FAA.
- All airlines check car seats for free, but they’ll probably come in on the oversized cargo belt and not with your regular luggage.
- If you’re checking your car seat, it’s recommended you check it with the original box the car seat came in or in a car seat case to prevent damage.
- Some airlines have funky rules about car seat use on board (I’m looking at you British Airways), so always check with the appropriate carrier about their specific policies. It helps to print out their policies and carry them with you.
- This post goes more into detail on flying with car seats.
International Travel Note
Cars outside the US and Canada do not have locking seatbelts and most likely won’t have top tether anchors (for forward facing installs). This means that if you’re using a belt to secure your car seat, you may need a locking clip like this one or a car seat with a built-in lock-off like the Britax Marathon Clicktight.
Two of My Plane Travel Lifesavers
You’ll need to bring plenty of things to clothe, diaper, and feed your kiddo(s), but here are two things that were literally lifesavers:
- My kiddos’ eating habits are always thrown off by any travel. This can lead to engorgement and can potentially even compromise your milk supply. Travel with a manual pump (planes might not have a spot to plug in and battery packs tend to run out at the worst possible moment).
- My travel credit card: (I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve).
- This gives us lounge access where the kiddos can roam in peace and eat from their endless supply of snacks.
- Global Entry and TSA precheck save us time waiting in line
Our family loves to travel and I’ll be putting these tips and more into blog: www.travelswithjana.com