For many of us this will be the first vacation where we travel to reunite and reunite with friends and family, and for some of us this may include traveling with children (as a mother of three , I got you covered!).
It goes without saying that the holidays can be the busiest time of year for most of us, especially when it comes to travel. So while you’re booking those flights and double-checking your list, here are 10 tips to make navigating your trip a little easier.
1. Pack for nonstop fun.
When traveling with toddlers, whether on a long or short haul flight or an international trip, I’ve found keeping them busy is key. Prepare a range of different activities that will hold their attention and surprise them about every 30 minutes with a new source of entertainment. Stock up on budget-friendly crafts, to-go bags, small snacks, coloring books and crayons, anything but something that can easily fall and get lost under your seat.
2. Download the Alaska Airlines app.
The Alaska app is the perfect travel solution from the day you start shopping for flights to the moment you arrive at your destination. I use it to plan our trips, check in for flights, get mobile boarding passes and much more. You can also use it to check your flight status, view/edit your seats, and track your mileage plan balance for future trips with your family! This is a must trip for me.
3. Give yourself some grace.
If you haven’t traveled before or for a while, I strongly suggest that you give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport (at least two hours before a domestic trip and three hours before an international flight) and if traveling with children I would add an hour to that just to be on the safe side! This way you should have plenty of time to park, speak to an agent if needed, check your bags and follow the kids and go through security.
Airport guides are also helpful and provide recommended arrival times, counter opening times, airport services, and more. Remember: Alaska begins flight boarding approximately 40 minutes prior to takeoff.
4. A trusted traveler or space saver program is worth signing up for!
If you’d rather speed the lines like me, I suggest you consider signing up for a trusted travel program like TSA Pre✓®, Global Entry, Nexus or SENTRI or other airport screening programs to speed up your wait times and avoid queues. While some take a while to get, CLEAR is same-day registration as well as spot-saving programs like SEA Spot Saver, a Seattle spot saver program that helps you get through the security process faster. Similar niche saver programs are also in Calgary, Charleston, Newark, Orlando and Phoenix.
5. Alaska can text you on the fly.
While the app notifies you of travel updates, Alaska’s SMS feature is also a great resource to notify you of any sudden changes during your trip. Alaska will send you a notification if your flight is canceled or delayed by more than 15 minutes. It also sends important notifications about gate changes, if your flight is on time, and if Wi-Fi is available on your plane. On my last international trip to Mexico with my family, I was informed the night before that Wi-Fi would not be available on my 5+ hour flight, which gave me a friendly warning to plan ahead. ahead of time and plan the flight with that in mind. You can sign up for SMS notifications here.
6. Pre-order your meals before your flight.
Cold food and beverage options are available on most Alaska Airlines flights, and it’s such an important option to have when traveling with children. You can snack on favorites like the one my kids love, the Signature Fruit and Cheese Platter (they look forward to it every time they fly) or you can try new menu options via pre-ordering on the most flights over two hours.
For first-class customers, hot meals are back on flights from coast to coast and Hawaii, and canned water is offered to quench your thirst (and it’s eco-friendly).
Don’t forget to pre-order meals for you and your little ones (if applicable) 20 hours before your flight! Learn more: alaskaair.com/preorder.
7. Pack the essentials.
The holidays can be one of the busiest times of year to travel, and sometimes bags don’t always end up where they should (it does happen). My advice: pack the essentials in a carry-on bag to make sure you have what you need when you land.
Our family loves Alaska because of its special 20 minute luggage guarantee. If your bags are not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your plane arriving at the gate, they will offer you a $25 discount code to use on a future flight to Alaska. or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ bonus miles. Learn more about Alaska’s baggage policies.
8. Buy the salon membership, it’s worth it.
Alaska shows are the holidays before the holidays. Located in several major cities, including Seattle, their lounges are a sweet escape from the hustle and bustle of the airport. I love taking my little ones into the living room as it’s so much easier to keep them close to me and even if they wander off I can keep an eye on them. They love watching the Alaska Concierge pour fancy drinks and serve fresh food to guests (especially the pancake printer, which is a must). All in all a great way to recharge and relax before a flight. You can learn more about Alaska Lounge Membership and its amenities here.
9. Get through security with ease.
If you are traveling with children, children 12 and under may leave their shoes, light jackets and headgear on during the screening. For toddlers using strollers and car seats, you will need to pick them up and carry them through the metal detector walkway. The rest of us have a few things to do:
- Have your boarding pass and ID ready for screening officers.
- Remove all outer clothing, belts with metal buckles, larger metal jewelry and accessories, and the contents of your pockets. Secure these items in your carry-on before putting them in the x-ray tunnel or find a small bin to place them in.
- In general screening lanes, remove electronic devices larger than a cell phone, including laptops, tablets, e-readers and portable game consoles, and place them in a bin for screening. Mobile phones can stay safe in your hand luggage.
- In general screening hallways, place the one-liter bag of liquids, gels, and aerosols in a separate bin for X-ray screening. This will allow the TSA agent to have a clear view items to ensure they do not pose a security risk.
- Wear shoes that are easy to remove or untie/loosen the shoelaces if you can.
- Once your bags and trash have been x-rayed, be sure to collect all of your belongings. Bring your items to a nearby bench or chair. You will have more time to gather/recondition your items, while those following you will do the same.
ten. Sit back, relax & to be happy.
When traveling in Alaska, staying connected is easy! On most flights, you can stream fast satellite Wi-Fi for just $8. During your flight, simply log on to AlaskaWiFi.com to stream over 800 movies and TV shows, all for free! You can also chat for free and pick up where you left off while flying above the clouds!
And, during your flight, if you have children, be sure to explore Vooks, a new in-flight experience to keep your little ones minds and hands busy while they fly. You can also print complementary printable activity books for free that go well with the titles you’ll find on board. Just print before you go, pack some headphones and your child’s favorite coloring supplies, and they’ll soon be on their way with programming created just for them.
From my family to you and yours, we hope you have a wonderful vacation and trip to Alaska!
– Tash @itstashhaynes