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'Are we there yet?': Guide to traveling with kids by air, land & sea


Tue, Sep 26th 2023 03:30 pm

AAA shares advice on taking flights, road trips, cruises with children

By AAA of Western and Central New York

Traveling can be blissful, inspiring and restorative. Traveling with kids – let’s face it – can be challenging. AAA travel advisers say with enough planning and creativity, traveling with kids can be successful, not stressful!

“Travel is an enriching and educational experience for children of all ages,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “AAA is fortunate to have so many experienced travel advisers who know the ins and outs of family travel and can help AAA members plan memorable vacations.”


•Before You Go: When you're purchasing airline tickets, AAA travel advisers say avoid buying basic economy if you're traveling with kids. Basic fares come with restrictions and oftentimes that means no seat selection. If your family wants to sit together, be sure to purchase at least regular economy, also known as main cabin. Download movies and shows on your mobile device ahead of time, in case there’s no Wi-Fi onboard. Carry a backpack instead of a suitcase to free up your hands at the airport and during boarding and deplaning.

•En Route: Seat children by the window, especially during takeoff and landing, so they can see what’s happening on the ground and in the sky. During the flight, keep kids entertained with snacks, stickers, coloring books, and small toys that don’t make noise – your fellow passengers will thank you! Keep young children cozy with a sweater or sweatshirt that can double as a blanket. Bring an extra change of clothes for little ones who are prone to spills and accidents.

•Kid-Friendly Destinations: International travel is a special way to show children the world and spark their sense of adventure. Consider the Caribbean or Europe, and don’t forget to apply for your child’s passport well in advance. RushMyPassport helps expedite the process, and AAA members get discounted rates.

√ Aruba: Beautiful beaches and plenty of activities for kids

√ Greece: Historic sites and vibrant culture

Road Trips

•Before You Go: Map your route ahead of time with AAA’s free travel planner TripTik. You can look up gas stations, EV charging stations, rest areas, hotels, campgrounds and restaurants. AAA travel advisers say that, if you're planning to stay overnight at a hotel on your road trip, book your room in advance to guarantee lodging. Check your tire pressure, oil and battery. Pack water, snacks and an emergency kit complete with a flashlight, blanket and phone charger.

•En Route: Hit the road early in the morning, while the kids are still sleepy and will likely fall back asleep when they get in the car. When they wake up, play music and sing family karaoke. Or try this game: Tell older children to add up the license plate numbers on passing cars and see who can do it the fastest. Keep score and whoever “wins” 10 license plates gets a prize, likely getting to choose where you stop for lunch!

•Kid-Friendly Destinations: Pack up the car and head to U.S. National Parks or drive north to explore the wonders of Canada.

√ National Parks: Stunning scenery and wide-open space to roam and explore

√ Nova Scotia: Ocean views, rolling landscapes, and outdoor activities


•Before You Go: Not all cruises are created equal! Some ships cater more to adults or couples, so be sure to do your homework. AAA travel advisers can point you in the right direction and help you book a family-friendly cruise that meets your budget and needs. Travel advisers can also make sure you have connecting cabins if you’re traveling with a big family.

•En Route: Once you’re on the ship, take advantage of kid-friendly activities on board, whether that’s the water park or movie theater. One of the biggest perks is the kids club, where children can meet other kids, play games, and do arts and crafts while their parents enjoy themselves poolside or at the spa!

•Kid-Friendly Destinations: Cruising is a great way for children to travel and see the world, while still getting to be playful and silly on the ship!

√ Alaska: Whale watching, glacier viewing, and adventurous shore excursions

√ Anywhere in the world: Venture outside your comfort zone and sail to Africa, Asia or Australia!

Need more inspiration? AAA’s one-stop shop trip planning tool Trip Canvas lets you dream and search vacation destinations, AAA Diamond hotels and restaurants, and top trending tours and cruises.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 862,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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