Traveling with kids is not easy and it gets worse when it is a long haul international flight. Over the past 5 years, my wife and I have had 10 trips which includes 11 countries with our now 12 and 7 year old children. Obviously from these number of trips, it is evident that we love traveling. My kids love them as well and are always look forward to the next trip.
Among all this, there was (emphasis on the “was”) something they hated. It was the plane ride, the waits at the airports for security check ins, at the gates before and at the time of boarding and finally immigration when they get back. I could not disagree with them as I hated these too but being an adult, but I was not in a position to complain.
In 2018 was the year of big travels for us. We had 3 international long haul trips and a couple of domestic (Disney) trips. With a little bit of homework, I was able to minimize some of the pinch. Here are three steps which brought the biggest impact.
I never knew about priority lounges until I actually started using them. Unknowingly, one of the benefits of our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card was the free access to more than a 1000 priority lounges at various airports. Priority lounges which are otherwise a paid service, provide a closed door waiting area for all passengers with an onward boarding pass. The lounges usually provide free WiFi, refreshments and in some cases even serve free alcohol. The lounge facilities vary by location and countries. As an example, when at Doha (Qatar) airport, we had a family room to ourselves and a server attending to our needs. Even the bare minimum service is much better than the uncomfortable seats with no service provided near the terminal.
Airline Credit Card
I have been a frequent flyer with American Airlines and so it was a no-brainer for me to get a AAdvantage credit card. One of the perks is the priority boarding. It allows us to board the aircraft before the general public which gives us time to settle in our seats before the rush starts. Now one may not be flying American Airlines all the times, in such a case I recommend applying for a credit card offered by the airline you are flying to get this benefit.
Applying for credit cards is a big no-no in the credit history world. But if your credit score is excellent ranging over 750 then you should utilize it to your advantage. In my case, the score went down by probably 1 -2 points when I applied for a credit card. For the added benefit and sign on bonus, I feel it is worth sacrificing a few points on the credit score.
Global Entry/ TSA PreCheck
For any airplane travel with kids, I strongly recommend getting TSA Precheck. Imagine not having to take your shoes off or pulling out laptop or even your belt. TSA PreCheck allows you to do that. With a validity of 5 years, it is a simple $85 application process at www.tsa.gov which involves filling an application online and having a 15 minute in-person interview. For frequent international travelers, Global Entry for $100 is better option which includes TSA PreCheck. Global entry allows you to zip through the immigration & Customs line when you are getting back to the United States. There are various other programs for Mexico and Canada. Please visit the link here to find out about other programs
These three simple steps may not completely eliminate the stress in your travel but it will definitely reduce it. Take your kids to faraway lands and let them learn and cherish the different cultures we have on this planet.