You asked for it, I heard ya!
Where to start? Thank goodness I got my rookie on and took one for the team, let me tell you! You're about to get absolute gold on How to Travel with kids ultimate hacks.
And no, not the pinterest-esque type, just a real down-to-earth quick and easy tip guide to avoid the following rookie mistakes.
1. starving children in the airport.
2. missing your flight.
3. forgetting travel insurance.
4. buying extra baggage allowance.
5. Visa issues.
and lot's more.
And yes. We had all the above issues.
We got up at 4am to get on the road to Luton for our trip to the USA to stay with family for 3 1/2 weeks. That's me and the other half, a four year old and Dillan who's 9.- with hand luggage only.
TIP NUMBER 1: Obviously pre-pack, Roll that shit! forget vacuum packed clothes and carefully laying clothes on top of each other, rolling really is the only way to roll!
After leaving for the airport in good time we arrived at Luton Airport 2 hours early and headed straight for the departure lounge..
TIP NUMBER 2: Pack snacks! jheeeze those airports love tempting that holiday spending money straight out of your pockets before you've even left the country! We were expecting McDonalds and Burger King for cheap and easy snacks before we flew, big mistake, we just got £14+ small vegan/hipster style meal offerings from the likes of LEON a food chain with a small and pricey menu. There also wasn't a kids play area, which I'd seen so many times before and was kinda relying on with the long wait we had. BUT literally after a hangry discussion with my eldest about a book he wanted in WHsmith... (Luton Terminal 2)
TIP NUMBER 3: FFS take occupying shit with you already, they can carry a book in a backpack which isn't classed as your carry on luggage, so you get a hand luggage suitcase and handbag/backpack per person, so make use of your kids allowances AND check with your airline before, obvs.
Anyway, after settling the disgreeement with Dillan about the book, walking the whole way around and browsing Gucci shit we definitely couldn't afford unless we were blowing the entire vaycay budget, we settled on LEON which, for a family meal cost around £50, que the next rookie mistake...
TIP NUMBER 4: CHANGE CURRENCY PRE-AIRPORT BUT KEEP £ FOR THE AIRPORT!
We paid for that meal in dollars, because we'd stupidly exchanged all our cash and were saving the cards for extra's only emergencies while we were away, spending dollars at the airport cave us a shit rate when everything's charged by the £.
So we missed our flight.
How the F?! You might be wondering.. well..
All the above rookie mistakes had truly set us up for failure as by the time we settled down for that meal we were already half an hour apres- gate time, don't rely on that embarrassing late tannoy, my eldest kindly reminded us that time had flown and we should have been at our gate. So we grabbed the ridiculously mini burgers and fries and ran, we ran 15 minutes through the airport to our gate, to find our plane sat there, allowing no more passengers to board.
TIP NUMBER 5: Watch that fucking board for your gate opening times, and allow like half hour to get there (laughing emoji) - but for real, just do it.
At this stage I'd like to insert a video, displaying what can only be described (by my wonderfully supportive partner) as an Oscar-winning performance featuring a drop to the knees, but obviously we didn't catch it on film. (else i'd be a viral Youtube act by now)
anyway... we got free flights to Newyork almost immediately and then a straight transfer to Chicago, only adding 6ish hours onto the already 10 hour journey.
Now it's worth mentioning that you need to check your vaccinations and visa's prior to travel.
www.visacentral.com can help you here.
And if unlike me, you pride yourself on being super duper organised you'll want to head over to a travel comparison site to get the best travel insurance deal.
OK last one for the airport, take your charger, and buy foreign plug adaptors from Poundland before you go to avoid paying £15 odd quid per adaptor at airports and travel shops. Take kids headphones with you, those in~ear adult style ones they give you on board are no good for ancy- children AND the headphones help sooth altitude ear aches!
Now, travelling with kids in general can be a hugely fucking daunting task, which if you let it -will ruin your holiday, because apart from the stresses and strains of new environments, safety measures and the usual holiday horror stories, you're trying to catch a break right?
Honestly, unless your RV'ing, wild camping or have done a shit load of research your most likely better off in a resort. My top tip here is to wander into a travel agents, get all the local info on your destination including kid friendly excursions and day trips then seriously go home, skyscanner.com the cheapest travel dates and find a deal on an all-inclusive trip for those dates using a website like icelolly or the millions of others.
Take some home comforts, leave the car seat home, hire one. Take a stroller for the younger ones, thank me later and for fucks sake have fun! It's so rewarding and satisfying when you feel like you've got your shit together once your there and soaking up that sun. For me, if we'd done the airport right on the way there the whole trip would have been pretty stress-free.