The school holidays are here and many families are excited to jet off on holidays — but airports are overwhelmed with flight delays, cancellations and lost luggage (which is expected to continue for months).
But even outside of peak holiday periods, flying as a family has its challenges — enough to regret booking the journey in the first place.
Musicians Michael and Melody Moko from Brisbane regularly take their kids aged eight, four and one on tour, as well as interstate to visit family.
We chat to this family of five about how they make it work with as little stress as possible.
If you’re travelling in the coming week
1. Allow a bit of room for independence
One of the things Michael recommends is giving kids their own piece of luggage, like a wheelie suitcase or backpack that contains their own snacks, water bottle, activities for the plane and any other items. Of course, this will depend on their age.
“Just giving them a bag that’s not too heavy and that they can carry and that has all their stuff in it gives them a little bit of independence, which helps us, and helps them,” says Michael.
2. Pack plenty of snacks
Aside from luggage, you’ll want to factor in food for your kids, which can also help with flight delays, as the cost of buying food from the airport can add up.
“Holidays are expensive, and people work hard to go on a holiday — especially with kids. So if you start having to spend money on inflated food prices at the airport, it’s just chewing into your fun money,” he says.
3. Make sure any activities are ready to go
To help keep their three kids occupied on flights, the couple packs a screen, and they ensure everything — whether it’s games, movies or shows — are downloaded prior to the flight, in the event of no wi-fi.
Their kids also enjoy drawing, and they take drawing materials and colouring books along for the flight.
4. Consider a carrier as well as a pram
If you’re travelling with a baby, Michael and Melody recommend a baby carrier in addition to a pram. Prams typically have to be checked in as luggage (depending on their size), so having a baby carrier can help keep your hands free while in the air and in the terminal.
Helpful tips for booking future flights
1. Compare any additional costs
Michael and Melody have learnt through experience that airlines may have different fees for things like checking-in prams, car seats or cots as luggage.
When it comes to saving money when flying with kids, Michael recommends doing a bit of research to compare different airlines.
For example, most domestic airlines allow you to check-in up to three infant items at no extra cost such as a pram, cot or car seat. However, rules around checking in similar items for small children varies.
2. Day or night flight?
Where you have the choice, you might want to travel at a particular time of day.
“For babies and younger kids, travelling around nap time or even night-time has often worked out better for us than the daytime,” says Michael.
“They’re usually a bit more calm and just kind of sit there and chill because they’re a bit dazed. There’s something about the lights being dimmed on the plane and the atmosphere that makes things a bit calmer, and they often fall asleep in the car [on the way to and from the airport].”
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