6 Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids

Maybe you think finding cheap flights is all you have to do for smooth travel this holiday season, but if you are taking the kids, there is a bit more prep work involved. Don’t worry, we make it easy for you.

Read about the most annoying passengers ever

Just follow these tips for holiday flights with the family and everyone will emerge from the experience unscathed.

Listen as FareCompare Editor Anne McDermott learns more kid-friendly travel tips from LuxuryTravelMom‘s Kim-Marie Evans:

6 Travel Tips for Holiday Flights with the Kids

1. Plan on Direct Flights

This is the reverse of our usual money-saving tip, which says that, generally speaking, connecting flights are cheaper than nonstops. However, it may not be worth it when traveling with kids during winter holidays when bad weather can cause flight cancelations and delays.

What to do with bad weather delays or cancels your flight

You do not want to be stranded in the airport with tired and cranky kids if something goes wrong. This is one time when paying the extra bucks can save you untold misery.

2. Travel on the Holiday

Two good reasons to travel on holiday dates, such as Thankgiving Day or Christmas Day:

  • It is usually the cheapest day to fly during holiday travel periods
  • Airports and sometimes even planes are much less crowded

Travel early enough in the day and chance are you will not miss much or any of the celebrations.

3. Explain Security Procedures

Young children may be frightened of security procedures (or they may think it is a fun new game). In any event, a matter-of-fact explanation of what could happen will likely help ease fears. Don’t forget to explain that when Teddy goes on the conveyor belt, he will come out on the other side.

Read about the TSA officer who left an “inappropriate note” in a female flyer’s luggage

Finally, know that the TSA will not separate parents from children. Plus, chances are good that kids under 12 will not have to remove their shoes any more, thanks to new kid-friendly measures currently being put into place.

4. Bring Some Bribes

Sometimes a reward – or a bribe – works wonders. I have always found that candy is especially useful for ensuring good behavior, as are toys, either inexpensive new ones or old favorites. Dole them out as needed. My favorites bribe? Read to your kids. They will love it.

5. Don’t Forget Food and Entertainment

JetBlue and Virgin America provide free entertainment on individual seatback screens, and Frontier planes offer this perk for a fee in economy. Again, it’s a fee that’s worth paying in my opinion. Or bring your own device and movies or TV shows.

And don’t forget to pack a lunch the kids will enjoy, and include snacks such as raisins, nuts and cookies. Food is a great distraction when crankiness sets in.

6. Pay Fees for Extras that are Worth the Money

As mentioned, pay for the TV screen if you have to. Another fee that can be worth it is early boarding, and you may even want to spring for preferred seating if you think it will help. Anything that gives you a less-rushed and less-chaotic experience is OK in my book.

More from Rick Seaney:

Best Bribes for Happy Holiday Travel with Kids


Published: November 1, 2011