Lower Stress Of Holiday Flying With Kids

Suitcase and airline tickets CBS/iStockphoto

Does even the thought of packing up the whole family for a flight have you dreading the holidays, even though they're still a couple of months away?

Family travel doesn't have to be a nightmare and, on The Saturday Early Show, Laura Begley, deputy editor of Travel + Leisure magazine, shared some ideas for lightening the stress load when flying with the kids ar holiday time.

Begley says it's not too late to get a good deal on holiday flights. Bookings have been down due to the poor economy, so there are more open seats available then usual. To find a good deal, try SmarterTravel.com. It has lots of good prices and great package deals.

Six Commandments for Flying with Kids

  • Book early morning flights

  • Travel on Saturday

  • Fly non-stop

  • Check airline baggage policy (on set carry-on diaper bag)

  • Keep the kids entertained (on set products, coloring books, kid camera, portable DVD player)

  • Hang on to your stroller (stroller with detachable car seat)

    Travel + Leisure Show-and-Tell Items for Family Air Travel

  • SkipHop Duo Diaper Bag $54 www.skiphop.com

  • Toshiba Portable DVD Player - SPD71S $129.99 www.toshiba.com

  • Fisher-Price Kid Tough Digital Camera $50 www.fisher-price.com

  • Range of activity books/crayons

  • Maclaren Easy Traveler $75 www.maclarenbaby.com

    Book early morning flights: Basically, early morning flights are the least likely to be delayed. And when you're traveling with kids, you don't want them to be tired or cranky. Because cranky kids = stressed-out moms and dads.

    Travel on Saturdays: According to our research, Saturday is a much quieter day at the airport. Most people leave for weekend trips on Friday, and there are no business travelers on a Saturday, so the airport is relatively empty and easy to navigate.

    Fly non-stop: For families, the most stressful time is getting on and off the plane. If you fly non-stop, you have fewer headaches to deal with. You also have to deal with all the stuff, bags, carriages, toys, kids going to the bathroom, etc -- it's just easier to do it once. I think it's worth the extra money. First, you'll get there faster, have less hassle and, most importantly, the possibility of delays is lessened. And long delays and kids are a terrible mix. Also, a lot of airlines are eliminating (United, for instance) pre-boarding for families -- so boarding with the kids will be that much harder.

    Check airline baggage policy: You really want to do this. A lot of people don't realize that many carriers don't count the stroller as a checked item, so you won't be charged if you bring it along. But you must check with the airlines. Also, it's good to note -- if you have a kid with a ticket, your child can bring one carry-on item, a personal item, and have a checked bag. So, even your one month-old can actually carry-on an adult-sized suitcase!

    And speaking of carry-on bags, we like to recommend the SkipHop Duo Diaper Bag -- it's a great big diaper/overnight bag that's stylish, light, and very functional. It retails for $54. Makes a great gift for Mom.

    Keep the kids entertained: This is probably the most important commandment. Once kids get bored, they get cranky, start crying, and even try to run around the cabin. I recommend several products to help them pass the time:

    a) Good old fashioned coloring books, drawing paper, crayons, etc.

    b) A portable DVD player (Toshiba $130) -- fits right on the tray table and can play all your child's favorite movies and TV shows.

    c) A children's camera (Fisher Price $50) -- enables your kids document the trip. It will keep them busy and be a lot of fun at the same time.

    d) Also that old standby -- let them set in the window seat!

    Hang onto your stroller: This just makes it easier for you to get around the airport. A stroller makes more sense than carrying or dragging around your young child, especially when you're also carrying your own luggage. So, you want to hang onto that stroller to make your life easier. Gate-check the stroller when you're about to board the plane, and they'll have it for you just as you depart the aircraft. It's the only way to travel.

    We also have a great stroller that should help make your trip easier: Maclaren's Easy Traveler (rightstart.com; $75). It's a stroller and a car seat all in one. It's perfect for when you arrive at your destination and need a baby seat for your rental car.
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