Family Vacation Tips

How Early Should You Start Your Family Vacation?

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 28, 2013 5:50:00 PM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

how early should you be for a family vacation Chances are one of the main reasons you're taking a family vacation is that you need a little rest and relaxation. You've taken great care to plan everything to the Nth degree. The last thing you want to do is miss all the fun.  So before you can start "vacationing" you've got to all get there first....

Flights - There is a general rule of thumb for how early you need to arrive at the airport. If you're flying domestically within the U.S. your family MUST be at the airport AT LEAST 1 hour prior to departure.  If you're flying internationally your family must be at the airport AT LEAST 2 hours prior to departure. Although these are recommendations, you need to double these times if you are traveling during a very busy time.  Please be sure to allow extra time if you're flying with very young children who may need extra time in order not to be stressed.

Even if these are the "rules" there are other considerations to take:

  • Most airlines will allow you to do online check in 24 hours prior to your flight. This will save you a great deal of time when you arrive at the airport.  If you are flying with just carry on bags they you can simply proceed straight to TSA and then onto the gate. If you are checking luggage you will need to drop your bags at check in but won't have to wait in line. Usually you can do a quick self check in at the airline kiosk and proceed on your way.
  • If you are planning to fly during a busy time like the December Holidays or Spring break, plan your parking. Some busy airports can have their parking lots sell out. Most area airports parking companies will let you make reservations in advance. 
  • We offer park & stay packages for our clients.  These include a one night hotel stay in an airport hotel the night prior to your departure with free parking included (usually for 7 nights). Most airport hotels offer 24 hour airport shuttle service. A park & stay package is great for families that have very early morning flights.

Cruises - A great majority of our cruise clients live far away and need to take a flight to get to port.  We HIGHLY recommend that all cruise passengers arrive in their port city at LEAST one night prior to departure.  If you're flight to port is delayed for any reason, your family will "miss the boat". Cruise ships wait for NO one. We can help you set up a port night stay prior to your cruise and arrange airport and/or port transportation.  If you spent time and money planning a family cruise, you want to insure thatyou make it to embarkation in plenty of time.

Guided Tours - Families often opt for a family guided tours for foreign destinations like Europe, Asia, Australia or South America. Getting to every one of these destinations will involve Jetlag.  If this is your first trip across time zones, do not underestimate the effect of jetlag on your body.  You want to be fresh and ready to enjoy all the wonderful attractions you'll be visitng on your tour. You won't be able to enjoy yourself if you're exhausted and not sleeping properly.  Experts say flying eastward is more difficult on your body. They say it takes 1 day recovery for each time zone that you cross. If you're heading westbound, it's a 1/2 day recovery for every 1.5 time zones that you cross. If you go by these numbers, it could take your entire vacation to just recover from jet lag.

Just like cruises, your tour group will not hold up everyone else just to wait for you. Again, you should arrive at least one full day prior to the departure of your tour. This usually means at least two nights hotel stay prior to your tour. If you can afford the time and money to stay longer, even better. Fun vacations aren't very fun when you're physically exhausted.

Bottom line, you need to give your family plenty of time to start your vacation. You certainly don't want to miss out on all the fun you've planned. You also don't want to start your fun outting with angst and tension. Follow these tips and look forward to a fabulous 'on time" vacation.

Topics: family vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Vacationkids.com Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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