Traveling with family carries its own challenges, but traveling with family amidst the hustle and bustle of business travelers may have you wanting to get it way it from it all long before you’ve even left the terminal. So, keep in mind some hints that may save you travel angst.
Money More Valuable Than Time?
Since vacations feel like a non-essential expenditure to begin with, we often try to save money. While on the one hand, it is good to have a general budget in mind, on the other hand, you want to be careful where you cut corners. For example, if possible, avoid booking tickets with connections, despite the reduced-price fare temptation that often comes with tickets on sites like Expedia or Kayak. Direct is typically best. If "time is money," any money saved on a ticket could be easily lost due to a missed connection or lengthy layover. Traveling off-season will likely save you money, but be sure to consider what you could be giving up. March may be cheaper but the days cold and wet. June may be more expensive but the days long and sunny.
Leave extra time to get to the station/terminal. There’s no accounting for how long lines may be, security checks may not be in your favor, and you know your child will inevitably have to use the bathroom once you actually get there (why can’t they actually go before you leave home?). Having to rush to a gate, especially with a group of family members, is a terrible feeling. Feeling like you need to take a shower the minute you sit down isn’t so hot either, and that extra time padding allows you keep your cool. If you’re traveling with a family member who needs assistance with a wheelchair or scooter, don’t forget to arrange for a redcap or skycap to help out, or to make sure the airlines are aware of your needs before you even arrive.
Avoid traveling during the business travelers’ "rush hours"-- Monday and Friday mornings from approximately 7am to 9am, and again later those same days from approximately 4pm to 7pm. Not only are these are key times NOT to travel due to business crowds, the fares are often higher during these peak hours as well.
A Little Luxury
If you do end up with extra time in the terminal, you might consider getting a manicure or chair massage. 10 Minute Manicure, for instance, is a concept that debuted at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, and is now found in airports around the country. You really can get a manicure in ten minutes (or less), and the kids can hang right there with you as you do. (Sometimes the manicurists will do a special little "fingernail painting" on a single finger or two for little ones.) If your husband doesn’t care for manicures, XpresSpa offers spa services in airports ranging from massage therapy to reflexology, stress and tension release and facials. And because the services are shorter, they also tend to be more affordable. Chair massages are usually popular with most members of the family, and they’re typically inexpensive.
Another option if you find yourself with much more time than expected and really want to get away from the craziness of the terminal-- take the family and pay by the hour for one of the "micro hotel" rooms popping up in and out of airports around the world. For instance, the compact "cabin-style" rooms at Gatwick Airport’s "Yotel" have jukebox music systems, flat-screen TV’s, workstations and more.
As casual travelers are typically not as savvy when things go wrong as the well-traveled business-types, the perks and quick changes don’t seem to come as easily. So, if you find yourself stuck along the way, be sure to download a few key travel apps to help you out. Make sure that you’ve got apps for the specific airline you’re flying or for Amtrak if you’re traveling by train. In addition, apps like FlightTrack Pro allow you to quickly search for alternate options or connections. GateGuru allows you to keep a "flight card," with all your trip information and also offers lists of amenities at airports throughout the country and quick searches for last minute rental cars. It keeps track of your travel stats, which is fun for both the kids and the adults to see. TripIt, FlightAware and Urbanspoon are just a few of the bountiful travel apps available these days, and many are free, so download away.
If you find yourself stuck, having travel pillows and scarves that can double as travel blankets offer a bit of snuggling and comfort for all ages. These are two amenities rarely offered any more unless you’re traveling first class, and they don’t take up a lot of room in your bag.
The more you travel, the more you learn the tricks that so many business travelers have mastered, but hopefully with a little extra thought and some of these tips, you can relax along the route as well as once you’ve actually reached your destination.