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Family/Kids Travel

5 Rules for Bringing the Kids Home for the Holidays

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You Get What You Pay For

The aggravation that comes with delays, cancellations, and missed flights is compounded tenfold with a child. Sometimes, those snafus are out of your control, but there are ways to make your life easier.

Travel insurance? Buy it. You want that protection that covers hotels and other out-of-pocket expenses if your flight is significantly delayed or canceled. I can’t think of anything worse than overnighting in an airport with a little one.

Then there was my biggest lesson of all: Book multi-city travel all on one ticket instead of separately. My recent trip involved traveling from LAX to Newark on United, and then Newark-Heathrow-New Delhi on Virgin Atlantic. The big problem? Most of New Jersey was underwater.

When I got the notification that my United flight Los Angeles to Newark was canceled, I knew I was screwed. The international Virgin Atlantic flight was on a separate ticket and it was still scheduled to operate on time, meaning they carried no responsibility if I couldn’t get on the plane. It was up to me to get myself and my child to Newark and on that international flight.

To make matters worse, the international flight was on a deeply discounted ticket booked through an airline consolidator. I called Virgin Atlantic to find out my options, only to be told that they had no authority to change my ticket because it was booked through agency. As for the agency, the New Jersey-based Travel Pros, Inc., all phones were out of service and their offices were shuttered for a week due to the storm. Office phones and cell phones were disconnected and emails went unanswered.

With so many roadblocks, there was only one option: buy a day-of ticket from Los Angeles to Boston, and drive with family to Newark. (Thank goodness for family.) Poor planning added $800, many hours of aggravation, and a spike in blood pressure for everyone involved.

Do Your Research

Even if you’re traveling somewhere familiar, things you didn’t notice before suddenly become abundantly clear when small ones come along for the ride. High altitude, extreme cold and—in my case—serious pollution can affect children in ways that never bothered you before. Researching these conditions ahead of time can help you prep more effectively.

What I definitely didn’t know was that our destination, India, is facing a nationwide outbreak of Dengue fever. The evening I forgot the mosquito repellant, the bugs took every opportunity to bite my son all over his face. Anyone who saw those bright red marks got a look of horror and began mumbling something about Dengue and viruses I found myself frantically Googling and mentally preparing to have him airlifted to the closest hospital. The good news? Dengue mosquitos mostly bite in the day time and his bites were harmless. Still, a little advance research would have reminded me to slather on the mosquito repellent religiously, and we could have avoided the whole mess—and a lot of itching—altogether.