empty-airplaneWhen my boys were young, we frequently commuted from London to Miami. Now, as a travel expert, I’ve learned some insider secrets and travel tips for smooth travels to share with other families wanting to get the most out of their vacations!

Travel Insurance

First go over your home owners and personal medical policy, then buy what is not covered. If weather causes delays or cancellations, keep the newspaper headline that says the area was impassable or your road was blocked to prove your case for travel delay compensation.

In addition, read the fine print: most travel insurance policies do not cover for bankruptcy of your vacation provider, denial of a visa, or a court appearance unless you are subpoened. Airline travel insurance is very limited and usually only replaces your lost flight with the same route on another day, but it is still a helpful travel tip to know.

Airplane Seating

Passengers are alotted the space under the seat in front of them but not overhead space, which is considered public space. Passengers whose seat mates are obese or difficult have the right to discuss annoyances with the crew and try for a resolution. Although the FAA has regulations about sitting next to obese passengers, they are rarely observed for fear of lawsuits. Get the names of your crew, take photos if possible and submit via a certified letter to your airline. (Emails are not treated as seriously).

Bulkheads Seats

Although it is getting better for traveling families, if the bulkhead is refused to you, make notes of the seat numbers and other available seats on the plane (walk up and down and make your notes). Then use your data to complain.

travel tips for flying

Photo credit: Pixabay

Lost Luggage

Lost luggage can be especially unfortunate when traveling with children. The last resort of airlines who cannot find luggage is to ask you for an inventory of contents. Have a few specific items with details like color, size, brand, etc., kept on a list. Label the inside and outside of your luggage and use TSA-approved locks.

Children’s Backpacks

Do not print your child’s name on the backpack or any identifying label–you do not want strangers calling them. When using the public bathrooms, take the corner one if you have backpacks and other carry-ons that need to go on the floor.

Document Problems with Photos

I am a great believer of photographing situations you want to report: a nasty gate agent, a dangerously cluttered emergency door, passengers carrying on more than you–when you were denied your child’s extra carry on. There is always a way to do it without creating a scene. Where I have seen this used: photographs of awful food on a river boat, photographs of the upgrade list on which they forgot to put my name, the man who refused to let me recline my seat, etc.

Have any other travel tips to share? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Phyllis Stoller is a spa and women’s travel consultant. Follow her on Twitter at @Phyllisnycity.