Traveling with the family can be a nightmare. Not only is family travel expensive if you can't find affordable airline tickets, it's also a huge inconvenience for you and for your fellow travelers. The key to a smooth travel experience is to plan ahead and prepare, as much as possible, for the unexpected.
1. Book non-stop flights. Although you may not be able to find non-stop flights with cheap airline tickets, avoiding extra time in the airport during layovers and the possibility of delays or cancellations is hugely beneficial when you're traveling with family. Plus you'll never have to wake a sleeping baby. It can never hurt, however, to check discount airfare sites for the most affordable non-stop airline tickets.
2. Pack your child's travel carry-on with a surprise. Stuff you kids backpack full of new toys, games, and activities. Or, you may even want to consider wrapping a few old items like a present. You'd be surprised how exciting an old toy can become after it's pulled out of new wrapping paper.
3. Schedule extra time. Whether you're traveling with discount airfare or with full-priced airline tickets in hand, every traveler has to go through the same check-in and security routine. Always build in plenty of time for check in and connecting flights; everything takes twice as long and is twice as complicated when you're traveling with children. Don't forget to double check that TSA prohibited items list before heading to the airport for updates on carry-on or checked items to avoid delays at the security gate.
4. Reserve seats in advance. Eliminating any unpredictability when traveling with your family is a plus. When buying your airline tickets always check to see if you can secure your seat assignments in ahead of time. Consider booking your family's seats all together, splitting up the family if traveling with another adult to avoid in-flight sibling feuds, or trying to find aisle seats for easy maneuvering. Also, even if you booked advanced seating, ask at the gate if the flight is full; you may be able to request a vacant seat between you and a fellow passenger.
5. Check flight restrictions when booking. Cheap flights can sometimes come with hidden restrictions such as strict cabin baggage weight limits or fees for checking strollers.
6. Test your stamina in advance. You may be able to benefit from cheap airfare by paying for one less child if you can handle having your child sit on your lap in a chair at home for the length of your flight.
7. Schedule flights during sleep time. Use discount airfare to try to find cheap airline tickets around the time your child normally naps. Also consider booking redeye flights; not only will you find cheap airfare, you may be able to benefit from having you child sleep through a nighttime flight.
8. Board first or last. You receive the same boarding privileges with cheap airline tickets as you do with regular-priced tickets: when traveling with children you'll have the option of boarding first. Early boarding can be convenient because it allows you extra time to get situated; however, boarding last will cut down on the time your kids have to wait on the plane.
9. Beware of bulkhead seats. What you gain in legroom with bulkhead seats you'll lack in under-the-seat storage, which is even more valuable when traveling with children. Also these seats often lack armrests, preventing your child from comfortably cuddling with you.
10. Check your luggage. You already have plenty to keep track of when you're traveling with family - multiple little ones, tickets, IDs, bags - but you can eliminate unnecessary hassle when you check your bags. Think of it this way: what you save on discount airfare you can put toward the extra fees airlines may charge you for checking bags.