Traveling with kids can sometimes feel like you’re one of the Ringling Brothers taking your traveling circus to its next destination. We met up with some people who are well versed in the traveling arena and got some tips to help make traveling a little easier.
If you’ve ever felt like this…
You’re in good company and our friends Emily and Dave are here to help you!
Emily Holt has been traveling for years and now has a 2 year-old and a baby on the way. While some people take up knitting or stamp collecting as a hobby, Emily checks flight prices. And she’s good at finding deals. She runs several Instagram accounts, called Flights From Home. These accounts show followers (based by location) cheap flights and tips. She has been looking at flights long enough now to know when good deals come up and she lets her followers know! (You’re going to want to follow her account with the the airport nearest you!!)
Meet Dave. He is both a rapper (yes, rapper like MC Hammer) and a flight aficionado. He specializes in finding mistake fares and letting average Joe’s like us know about them through his email list. What is a mistake fare, you ask? Well, because airline flight prices are adjusted by real people, and nobody’s perfect (cue Hannah Montana), sometimes real people make mistakes (i.e. like a flight Dave found from SLC to Athens for $393 instead of $1,393 round trip). Dave calls this the dancing decimal, where sometimes the airline’s decimal mistake can play largely in your favor. These discounts are nearly impossible to predict and go quickly (usually within 24 hours MAX) so if you see one, buy it!
- Follow Dave/Emily!!
- Use Google Flights: Emily finds this service is one of the most responsive to price changes. Plus, you can search flights based on country and by month so as to find the best deals.
- Don’t be afraid of budget airlines: “People always try and besmirch Wowair or Norweigan air or allegiant. The reality is it is infinitely safer than driving,” Dave said.
Research return policies for travel agencies you’ve never heard of… Just ask Dave. He learned this the hard way when a conversation with a travel agency to return his flight turned into a yelling match. *And, keep in mind if you book at least a week out, airlines are not allowed to charge your credit card until 24 hours after the time of booking. So, that way you can cancel it within that 24 hour period if you realize your husband really isn’t into flying to North Korea with you…
- Book now and ask questions later: With mistake fares, the airline can recognize their error at any moment. If you see a flight that looks like a screaming deal, BUY IT. But, as Dave suggests, “if you book willy nilly, know who you’re dancing with.” Meaning, understand the policies as stated above ^
- Look for fall/spring travel to save $$: When you’re not flying in the peak holiday or summer time, your flights will often be cheaper Emily says.
- Plan 6-9 months out for international travel: Dave suggests this is the sweet spot for being able to find deals. When it gets closer to the departure date, flight prices skyrocket.
- Plan list of destinations and choose depending on travel fares: While this can be challenging for some predetermined vacations, if you have flexibility, choose the location of your trip based on the cheapest flights. “My husband and I have a list of 10 destinations that we would want to go to,” Emily said, “that if a great deal came up to one of these destinations, we would book it. Some of our best trips, have happened more on the spur of the moment. We will grab a deal in the moment and then it facilitates where we go.”
- Search flights by region: “Price drops regionally is what I normally find,” Dave said. “For example, all the west coast cities will be inexpensive to about 8 places in Europe. Then, that won’t hold true for the midwest.” Additionally, Dave mentions, if you find a flight discount to one location, chances are you can find similar discounts to other areas in that region. “If you find a flight out of Salt Lake that is inexpensive to Beijing, I would say it is also beneficial to look at flights to Bangkok and Tokyo as well,” Dave said.
- Start ‘em young: Emily recommends starting travel with your kids young, as long as your schedule and budget allow. Then, travel becomes nothing to fuss about.
- Keep mornings flexible: “As far as international travel goes,” Emily said, “you are always going to have problems with time change. Your kids are probably going to be up in the middle of the night. To say that there is a magic cure, I don’t think there is one. The best thing is to be flexible.” She recommends keeping bigger activities planned for the afternoon so if you and your child are up all night (heaven help you) you can at least sleep in and still not miss a thing.
- Take naps on the go: Try taking a sling for small children to nap in while you’re sightseeing. Emily doesn’t pack a stroller and instead uses the lightweight sling to carry her daughter. “In the afternoons, if she’s tired, she takes a nap in the sling and we continue on our way as she sleeps,” Emily said.
- Check visa requirements: If traveling internationally, make sure you have the proper visas as this can sometimes take longer than expected, and is something that is easy to forget, Emily suggests.
- Pack lighter than you think: Dave suggests, sometimes it might not be worth it to bring 10 shirts on a 3 day trip (go figure). If you need to, you can usually find an amenity you forgot at your hotel. Then you don’t have to lug an extra suitcase around.