It’s that time of year–time for hoardes of teens and families to pack their bags and head to somewhere exciting for a week-long adventure. The airports are crowded, the highways are bumper to bumper–how do you survive the craziness and have a (relatively) stress-free travel experience? We asked our travel experts and this is what they had to say:
- Arrive to the airport early. We cannot stress this enough. There will be lines…..and you don’t want to worry about missing your flight. Remember, airline regulations require that you check-in at the airport a minimum of 60 minutes prior to your flight’s departure for international flights and 45 minutes prior to domestic flights and present yourself at the gate ready to board by the boarding time (45 minutes prior for international flights). If you do not arrive in time, you will not be allowed to board the plane. Standing in line to check your bags does not count as being checked in.
- If you are driving, give yourself more time than you think you will need as the interstates will be packed.
- Children under the age of 18 traveling internationally without BOTH of their parents should have a letter signed by the absent parent(s) stating they know their child is traveiing outside of the country. Some countries require this letter to enter the country and some may ask for it even if not required. Be prepared.
- Have a game, coloring book, or other surprises in your “back pocket” for when your children get bored during travel. A deck of cards is an easy way to break up the monotony.
- Remember to advise your teen of the travel requirements and help them pack. You don’t want to realize they have their favorite hair gel in their carry-on in the security line. Put all liquids (under 3.2 ounces) inside one QUART-sized ziploc bag per person. Have it ready.
- Check everyone’s passports two weeks before travel. If someone’s passport is missing or expired, you’ll still have time to go to the passport office in your region to get it replaced. Better still, check three to four months before travel…
- Encourage your kids to wear lots of sunscreen the first half of the trip–they may think they never burn, but their skin has had all winter to fade off their base tan. Getting burned the first few days of vacation makes them uncomfortable.
- Some people think that if they do not have an international phone plan, their phone will not work abroad. This is not the case! Many times, depending on your cell phone carrier, your phone will still work. You need to be prepared and advise your children accordingly. Text messages will not fall under your usual plan–there will be a charge for sent messages and perhaps even received messages. Consider how many texts your child sends in a day….. Also, unless you want to be saddled with a high cellular data bill, turn your cellular data off on your phone. You will still be able to receive text messages and your phone will work on wifi, but not use cellular data.
- Remember that you are traveling to make lasting memories. Once you have arrived, let your kids experience your fun side–engage with them, be creative and make memories!
Have a wonderful spring break!!
The Advisors at The Travel Agent, Inc.