With Spring Break just around the corner, what better time to talk about all of the little tips and tricks that can make traveling a little easier. The vacation itself is the easy part. It is the preparation and the process involved in actually getting to your destination that can become stressful or frustrating. ?If you have children, that stress and frustration increases exponentially! Fortunately, I have picked up some brilliant little tips that can be the difference between starting your trip off right or pulling your hair out (or someone else’s) while sitting through a flight with your crying, fighting, whining, children. (or somebody else’s)
Download Mobile Pass.
If you are traveling internationally, then you need this app. The US Customs and Border Control has launched Mobile Passport Control (MPC) the first authorized app to speed up a traveler’s entry process into the United States. This is a free program that is easy to enroll in. You simply download the app, scan your passport, take a selfie, and you’re in! After your travels, when you land in the US, you pull up the app, and follow the prompts to receive your digital receipt, significantly reducing your time spent in customs. For more information, download the free app or visit CBC.gov for a full explanation of this program.
2. Take Advantage of Miles Programs
? There are many, many credit card companies that offer reward miles each time you use your card to make purchases. Some offer double, some offer a sign up bonus when you apply for your card. Use this card to pay for everything. You have monthly expenses that you have to pay no matter what, why not get rewarded for it. I have all of my bills paid automatically with my credit card. Then I have my credit card balance paid in full, each month, directly from my checking account. So my credit card is being used for my gas bill, cable bill, car insurance, phone bill, kids activities, groceries, and so on. Needless to say, I earn a TON of miles by paying for the things that I’d be paying for anyways. This has earned me free airfare for my whole family, (there are six of us) in less than a year. Just for paying all my bills on time.
3. Pack a pillow case and a large scarf in your carry on.
This will come in handy for a couple of reasons. Not only will you have a fresh clean pillow case to throw over the who-knows-where-its-been hotel pillow, ?but rather that lugging around one of those goofy neck pillows, you can stuff your coat or sweatshirt into the pillowcase for a make-shift pillow on the plane. The scarf can be unfolded and used for a blanket and you’ll be all set for an in-flight sleep session.
4. Have a travel kit in your suitcase at all times.
Whether you travel once a year or once a week, it is a good idea to have a pre-packed travel essential bag that never leaves your suitcase. My kit has my travel toiletry bag containing my travel size shampoo, toothpaste, body soap, and toothbrush (Although if you’re only traveling once a year, you may just want to get a new toothbrush each time.) I also have a spare charger, a pair of ear buds, and photo copies of my ?health insurance card, birth certificate, and drivers license. This prevents you from forgetting any of these items or from the last-minute frantic search for them.
5. Be prepared when traveling with children.
Traveling with children can be frustrating, not only for you but for those around you. While, you can not always control the behavior of young children, nor the reactions of strangers, you CAN prepare ahead of time to decrease the probability of public meltdowns.?Here are a few things that I make sure to bring when I travel with my brood – a stroller, tablets, headphones, chewy candy or gum, coloring books, crayons, and plenty of snacks. Although we no longer use a stroller for the day-to-day, I always bring it when we travel. You can take the stroller all the way up to the plane door, and the flight attendant will take it from you as you are boarding the plane. When you land, the stroller will be waiting for you just outside the door, which is really helpful when you have a tired or sleeping child at any point before or after the flight. The rest of the items are to offer bits of entertainment on a rotation schedule. I will make sure to download a movie for their in-flight viewing pleasure. When the movie is over, or they get bored with it, I’ll let them color for a bit and give them one of the snacks I have handy. The gum or candy is for take off when their ears are likely to pop.