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Will you be flying Alaska Airlines with a baby or toddler? As part of my “Need to Know” airlines series for parents flying with infants and young children, here are some important points to be aware of (and be prepared for) before your flight–and possibly booking.
Flying Alaska Airlines with an infant on your lap?
If you plan to fly Alaska Airlines with a lap-held baby or “lap child,” be aware they make no luggage allowance for unticketed passengers (no matter how cute they may be). That means your diaper bag will count toward your own carry-on bag allowance, or at least toward one of the ticketed passengers in your party.
The only exceptions are car seats and strollers as noted below.
Lap babies and toddlers on international Alaska Airlines flights:
Lap-held babies and toddlers under 2 years fly free on Alaska within the U.S. However:
On Alaska flights originating in other countries, fees will apply for infant passengers and tots under 24 months. The fee is usually around $17 U.S., and an extra luggage inspection fee may apply in some cases (about $2 for Alaska flights from Costa Rica).
On Alaska flights from the U.S. to other countries, a fee of around 10% of the adult ticket price will apply to lap-held children.
Lap babies and toddlers on Alaska’s partner airlines:
If your Alaska flight, or some portion of it, is actually on a partner airline, Alaska requests that you contact that partner airline directly to advise them of your lap child. This way you’ll be sure they assign seats on an appropriate row and any extra fees are addressed if needed.
Traveling with a Car Seat or Stroller on Alaska Airlines:
Strollers and car seats may be checked for free on Alaska Airlines. You’ll have your choice of checking them with your checked luggage or at the gate. I always recommend checking these items at the gate when possible (more here).
Using car seats on Alaska flights:
For lap children: While Alaska does not guarantee free airplane seats for lap-held children, if an extra seat is available on your flight, you might be able to use it for your child. If so, you’ll be glad to have your FAA-approved car seat / CRS with you at the gate, or CARES flight harness with you for your child (see recommended car seats for travel here and read all about the CARES flight harness in my review here).
For children in their own seats: Ticketed children using car seats on Alaska flights must have appropriate seats, meaning one that will not block the exit path of others. Generally, this means a window seat or a seat at the center of wide-body aircraft. If you’re not certain, call Alaska Airlines to double check your seating assignments will work.
Also, your car seat will need to be cabin-friendly! You can see my recommendations for car seats and other travel-friendly gear for families with young children in Great Travel Gear & Products for Traveling Families. Be sure to browse these related features to help with your travel planning and prep!
FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS: Planning the Vacation with Grandparents – Whether it’s a family reunion with many branches of your family tree or a just your household vacationing with one or two grandparents, I can tell you from experience that multi-generational travel is great way for families to bond and make memories—when it’s done right.
If you’re already planning a family vacation with grandparents, or you’re just beginning to consider the idea, here are some tips to help you avoid the common pitfalls of multigenerational travel and plan your best vacation with grandparents possible.
1. Be honest about your expectations.
If at least 1/10th of the reason you’re considering a vacation with the older generation is because you think you’ll have built-in babysitting, you all owe it to each other to discuss the details of how and when—and how much this babysitting will take place during your group vacation.
Believe it or not, not all grandparents want to spend their vacations babysitting. Be sure to tell them up front if you are hoping for a date night, or snorkeling trip, or morning to just sleep in without kids jumping on you, and ask what special plans they might like to undertake during your vacation.
2. Talk about money.
Vacation budgets may be quite different between grandparents and the family with young children. Settle on a price range that will work for all of you before getting into the (sometimes emotional) details of where you would like to spend your vacation and how much it might cost to get you there.
If you’re covering all or some of the vacation costs for a grandparent, make it clear whether this is a gift or whether you’re expecting childcare in return, or forgiveness from crashing the family car back in high school, etc.
If a grandparent is footing the bill for your family’s vacation, or any part of it, make it clear that you understand what it’s costing them to include you all and how much you appreciate it.
True Romance: Riding in the back of a truck through Mexican jungle to snorkel in an underground river, all made possible with vacation babysitting by Grandma.
3. Plan which activities you’ll do together—and apart.
Don’t wait until you check in to discover the grandparents have a full vacation itinerary of their own, and they look forward to seeing you, with your children, at dinner. Likewise, don’t risk offending parents who might be shocked to learn that you planned on spending chunks of your vacation time without them (oops).
It’s far better to get your wishes out in the open before you risk hurt feelings or find yourself with expensive theater tickets for two. Which you can now offer to your in-laws, along with a humble apology.
4. Get real about those money-saving meals.
If you hate cooking as much as your mother-in-law, own up to it before you sentence yourselves to a week of it “on vacation,” and make a game plan of how you can share and outsource at least some portions of the job ahead of time.
For example, does anyone else in the family like to barbecue, make fabulous flapjacks, or have a flair for making hand-tossed pizza? If so, put them in charge of at least one meal during your vacation.
And when all else fails, don’t forget: pizza delivery is available in virtually every country, even to most hotels and resorts.
5. Take safety seriously—seriously .
Vacationing with a baby or toddler in an unfamiliar and un-childproofed setting can present enough hazards as it is.
When you combine extra distractions during visiting and relatives who are not in the habit of constantly thinking about and monitoring the toddler-accessibility of their fluorescent orange plastic pill organizer or the deck rail from the chair they just placed beside it, it can turn your multi-generational vacation a multi-chaotic nightmare.
6. Choose a destination where there’s something for everyone.
While the grandparents may be happy to join you on Junior’s first trip to the Magic Kingdom, they may be done with the place after Day One, and all of the time spent on their feet there.
All-inclusive family resorts and cruises can be a sure-fire way to get built-in attractions and activities for all ages, and if the kids camp or childcare options work with your children’s ages (check for recommendations of family resorts and cruise lines for families with kids under 5 in Travels with Baby), you can enjoy a vacation with built-in babysitting without leaning on the old folks.
7. Choose accommodations that will be within everyone’s comfort zone.
Travel with grandparents, like small children, is very different from traveling on your own.
And while venturing off the tourist track to sleep with a hand-sized spider on the ceiling and nightly crabs entering through the shower drain may be tolerable for one grandma, another may prefer a vacation rental that’s far less rustic and with fewer geckos in the curtains. Even if they have fewer stories to tell afterward.
Just remember, when everyone sleeps well, and eats well, and is not afraid to use the plumbing, everyone is much more likely to enjoy the multigenerational vacation together.
In my enthusiastic anticipation of showing Costa Rica to three generations of my family, I somehow planned two days with 6+ hours of driving. Good thing driving in Costa Rica is not dull…
8. Don’t drive your family crazy with a vacation that requires more driving.
Whether you arrive at your destination by car, plane, train, ferry, on horseback or in a canoe, choose a location that won’t require driving to enjoy your time spent there.
Not only is loading and unloading the car, looking for parking spaces, and possibly negotiating traffic an undesirable way for grandparents and grandchildren to bond on a family vacation, but rental car prices jump when you make the leap from economical 5-seaters to that minivan (and in destinations like Hawaii and Europe, you’ll especially feel the minivan mileage each time you visit the pump).
Aim for a beach, lake, forest or even an urban destination where you can do what sightseeing you like without the need of a car. (See our Family Travel 411 Destination Guides at our sister site for inspiration.)
9. Get a great group photo during your vacation.
It’s easy to get busy with visiting, activities, and keeping up with kids on a vacation, so plan ahead to take a group photo at some point in your trip. Whether you enlist the help of a professional photographer or leave it to your trusty camera and tripod, you’re photo of three generations (or more!) will only become more precious in the years to come, not to mention it will look darn good on Grandma’s next Christmas card.
10. Remember that toddlers aren’t the only ones who get testy.
When planning a vacation with grandparents, parents, and grandchildren under one roof, make sure that everyone will get the downtime they need, whether that’s a nap for Junior or a snooze for Grandpa, or a quiet walk on the beach for Mom or a souvenir shopping spree for Grandma.
Also, keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand for everyone to help keep the blood sugar blues at bay and energy levels at their optimum for all that visiting to be done—and all the memories to be made.
Do you have a tip you would add to these? A great destination, resort, vacation rental or cruise you’d recommend for a family vacation with grandparents?
Note: A previous version of this post was first published September 12, 2013. It received the Bronze Award in Intergenerational & Family Travel Articles from the North American Travel Journalists Association.
Can you spot the binder clips? Very helpful for travel with a baby in Bangkok.
Travel with babies and toddlers gets easier with a few extra tools in the toolbox. Here are a few unexpected items I’ve come to appreciate that you might want to add to your packing list. (Thanks for your click-throughs to recommended products, which help support this site at no cost to you!)
1. Large binder clips
Fantastic for clipping blankets to stroller canopies and infant car seats for extended shade coverage.With any luck, you may also be able to use your binder clips to help create a blanket canopy over your child on that next red-eye (no more distracting reading lights).
2. Spare sun hat
It would be interesting to know how many times the average sun hat falls off (or blows off, or gets thrown off from) a baby or toddler on vacation. Be prepared in case your child’s first in line becomes irretrievable, and try to use one with a chin strap.
The ½” deep boxes that résumés or special papers are packaged in can be indispensable in traveling with toddlers and preschool-age children.
Fill with scratch paper and a few crayons and you have an art station that’s ready to roam. Just open the lid and let them go—the edges of the box keep artwork from getting onto other surfaces and the crayons from rolling off the edges.
4. Velcro bands
At home, you’ll find them in your fabric store and possibly on the goodies and gadgets aisle of your supermarket.
As you travel, you may find your Velcro bands bundling up window blind cords, attaching toys or shopping bags to your stroller, or wet clothing to the balcony rail of your vacation rental or hotel room.
5. Glow sticks
Even if you travel with a nightlight, there may not be a suitable outlet where you can use the nightlight–or any outlets at all if you’ll be in a tent.
Emergency glow sticks can be used instead, and older children may even be comforted by carrying theirs with them to the bathroom in the night. Most stay illuminated up to 12 hours and await your discovery near the checkout counters at hardware stores.
I count myself so lucky to have celebrated two Chinese New Years in Taipei, Taiwan, where the celebrations go strong and last long! And I’ll never forget my bewilderment when someone explained to me the banks would be closed eleven days!
As you can imagine Chinese New Year is a “really big deal” in Taiwan, as it is in many cities celebrating Lunar New Year around the world. I was thrilled when Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett – a native of Taiwan and creator of the “Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!“ audio CD for young children – agreed to share all about the Chinese New Year traditions in Taiwan in this special guest post (updated for 2019).
Welcome to the Year of the Pig!
Chinese New Year: The Biggest of the Chinese Holidays
In addition to marking the beginning of each lunar (moon) year, Chinese New Year represents the most important holiday of the year in traditional Chinese culture. You can find it being celebrated in Chinatowns all over the world.
It’s naturally a huge event in my native Taiwan, but even here in my current home of Honolulu, Hawaii, Chinese New Year celebrations are a big event and not to be missed.
Origins of Chinese New Year: The Story of “Nian” Beast
Some people say that Chinese New Year celebrations got their start with the story of the “Nian” beast (“nian” being the Chinese word for “year”). As the legend goes, back in ancient times the “Nian” beast came out on the evening of each New Year to destroy crops and ravage villages.
One wise old man came to a village and found its people fleeing to hide from the beast. He told the people to instead post red papers on their front doors, hang up bright red lanterns and set off firecrackers to make loud noises to scare away the beast. The villagers followed his directions and the “Nian” beast went away.
People were thrilled to once again have a safe and peaceful village and they began to follow these earlier practices with a feast to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. This legend passed on and in its own way explains many of the traditions we follow today in our celebration of the Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year’s Eve Traditions: The Reunion Feast
Starting off Chinese New Year one hundred percent positively is all-important. In order to begin things properly people begin with a major cleaning of the house. “Out with the old and in with the new” is the idea behind this practice.
To bring good luck and prosperity families place so-called “spring scrolls,” red papers with lucky words or phrases, on their front doors. Now is the time for the whole family to reunite – from the oldest great grandparent to the youngest newborn baby. The tradition is to go back to your hometown to join the family reunion feast on Chinese New Year’s eve.
Because of its great importance families usually take days to prepare for this abundant dinner. Must-have dishes for the meal include fish (which signifies surplus wealth), sticky rice cake (for promotions at work and good grades in school), noodles (for longevity and long life), and dumplings (for wealth and prosperity).
After the main courses pineapple is a favorite dessert fruit in Taiwan because the name for pineapple in Taiwanese sounds like “prosperity arrives!”
After Chinese New Year dinner, adults give red envelopes with “lucky money” (cash) in them to the children – always in an even number amount like 100, 200, 600, 800 or more to signify good luck.
In order to receive their envelopes children must say lucky phrases to their elders such as “gong xi, gong xi” (congratulations) and “xin nian kuai le” (Happy New Year). Other common favorites include, “gong xi fa cai” (congratulations on your prosperity) and “wan shi ru yi” (may everything go as you wish).
Parents may also receive red envelopes from their adult children. This shows the parents that their adult children are doing well in their own jobs or businesses.
Family Fun and Firecrackers
The excitement keeps climbing through the night. After the red envelopes are distributed, some families play Mahjong, a popular Chinese tile game with four adult players per table. Some families also play card games, Chinese chess, or Chinese checkers.
The children go with their parents to set off all kinds of firecrackers. The popping sounds of the firecrackers build all night to the climax at twelve o’clock midnight. Families and business owners set off long strings of red firecrackers at midnight for luck and prosperity in the coming year. You can feel the excitement of the arrival of Chinese New Year by listening to the non-stop crackle of firecrackers throughout the entire city.
Not Just a One-Night Affair: The Fifteen Days of Chinese New Year
Due to its importance, the Chinese New Year celebration lasts not one day, but fifteen. With Chinese New Year allowing people to have five days or more off from work and school, families have time to catch up with each other.
Some days of the celebration include special practices. The first day of Chinese New Year finds people enjoying the day savoring New Year’s delicacies, shopping in the special New Year’s marketplaces and having guests over. The second day of the Chinese New Year is the traditional day for married daughters to return to visit their own parents. The fifth day of the Chinese New Year is typically the day for businesses to reopen and for some people to go back to work. However, kids typically don’t return to school just yet).
In any case the Chinese New Year celebration continues for fifteen days with people saying lucky phrases to greet each other during this time and making efforts to avoid any negative thoughts, words and actions. The tradition is to be happy and joyful during this time so that happiness and good luck will follow you for the whole year.
Thanks so much to Amanda “Miss Panda” Hsiung-Blodgett (whose Chinese last name literally means “bear”) for this great guest post on Chinese New Year, one of the biggest family holiday celebrations in the world. Amanda is the mother of two young bilingual children and the creator of the “Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!” audio CD – the first installment of her Chinese learning series for young children.
A native of Taipei, Taiwan with parents from Mainland China, she currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has traveled to Turkmenistan, England, Thailand, Taiwan, and Bahrain with her two children. For more information about “Miss Panda” visit her at MissPandaChinese.com or on Facebook and Twitter. And to all… “xin nian kuai le” (Happy New Year), and “wan shi ru yi” (may everything go as you wish)!
Even strangers who have never flown with children will tell you it’s helpful to breastfeed or give a bottle to babies during takeoff and landing to help them avoid ear pain (yes, they will). But traveling parents quickly learn that the timing doesn’t always work out for this.
With any delays in boarding for your flight or taxiing to the runway, you may be faced with a hungry baby who wants to nurse now, thankyouverymuch, and will let you and every other passenger hear about it if he’s put off for too long (stressful for both of you, and no way to start a flight). On a short flight, your baby may already have a full tummy and be snoozing blissfully as you begin your descent, leaving you with the difficult question of whether or not you should wake a sleeping baby.
This two-part post includes:
1) 5 tips to help PARENTS avoid stress from anticipating potential ear pain, and also
2) 15 tips to help your baby’s or child’s ears adjust to pressure changes (below).
With healthy, functioning Eustachian tubes, the ascent is not as challenging to the ears as the descent before landing, although a child unfamiliar with the sensation may be uncertain how to respond, and the added engine noise during takeoff may also frighten some children. To help rule out an upset caused by anxiety (rather than ear pain), don’t postpone breastfeeding or bottle feedings for hungry babies, show your child your own calm example throughout the takeoff, and use a soothing voice.
2. Keep everyone well hydrated.
Make sure your child (and all members of the family) stays well hydrated leading up to the flight, as this will help thin any mucus that may be present in the Eustachian tube and prevent blockages or reduce restrictions that could make it more difficult for the ears to adjust.
3. Get the doctor’s stamp of approval.
If your child has experienced allergy symptoms, a cold, or an ear infection in the last couple of weeks before your flight, there is a chance that mucus or swelling in the Eustachian tubes may make it more difficult for his ears to adjust. You may want to consult your pediatrician to make sure “all ears are in the clear” before your flight, and ask if there are any remedies she might recommend to help make sure they stay that way.
4. Remember that drinking liquids is not the only way to help ears adjust.
When your child shows no interest in breastfeeding, bottles, or sippy cups, don’t despair—and certainly don’t show anxiety if you can help it. Just move on to the other ways you can help his ears adjust as you make your descent (see the 15 tips below).
5. Embrace Mother Nature.
If your child does begin to cry, don’t panic. Remember that even crying gets the jaw moving and can help equalize ear pressure to relieve ear pain.
Fifteen Ways to Help a Child’s Ears Adjust in Flight
Cup feeding—even for infants
Chewing on a teething toy
Mouthing a washcloth with an ice cube inside
Rubbing teething gel on an a baby’s gums
Yawning (fake it to make it)
Using EarPlanes (for ages 1 – 10) to help regulate air pressure in the Eustachian tube
Will you be flying Ryanair with a baby, toddler or young child? Read this first!
Flying Ryanair with a baby, toddler or young child? Some of their rules and fees can be ‘headscratchers’ for families. Here’s a guide to the important information and details for parents and caregivers to help you get ready to fly Ryanair with your young children. Updated for 2018.
Flying Ryanair with infants less than 2 years old:
Infants and babies less than 24 months flying on laps:
Ryanair charges a flat fare of 25€/25£ each way for a lap-held infant or child less than 2 years old. Lap children can now be booked online. While lap-held children are not allowed carry-on or checked baggage of their own, parents are permitted to bring a diaper bag with essentials weighing less than 20 kg. into the cabin in addition to their own carry-on baggage. See baggage rules below for information on what else you may bring along for your infant.
Infants and toddlers up to 24 months flying in paid seats on Ryanair:
Ryanair only allows babies and toddlers to fly in their own seat for all portions of the flight when they are at least 1 year old and are using the CARES flight safety harness (details and full review or CARES here) or a forward-facing car seat. If your child is between 12 months and 2 years and you would like to use a seat with CARES or a car seat for all phases of your flight, contact Ryanair
What is an “infant comfort seat” on Ryanair?
It is possible to purchase what they call an “infant comfort seat,” eg. an extra seat for a child less than 2 years old who will not fly with an airline-approved flight restraint to occupy during the cruise portion of the flight, but you can only make this reservation by phoning Ryanair’s call center (find the number to call from your country here).
Using car seats and the CARES harness on Ryanair:
Ryanair allows only forward-facing car seats (child safety seats) certified for air travel to be used in its aircraft, or the CARES flight safety harness. In either case, you should contact reservations well in advance of your flight to ensure your child will have an appropriate seat where the restraint (including CARES) may be used.
Ryanair baggage allowances and baby equipment rules:
Ryanair allows two free checked pieces of baby equipment per infant, which can be a pushchair or stroller plus either a car seat or bassinet. Collapsible pushchairs/strollers may be used right up the gate, but other items must be checked at the ticket counter (closes 40 minutes before flight).
Up to two additional baby equipment or child travel items may be checked for which is 15€/15£ per item when paid online or 25€/25£ when paid at the airport (for car seats, safety boosters, travel cots, etc.).
RyanAir discounts for children, AKA Family Extra
Ryanair offers 50% discounts off checked bags, allocated seating, Priority Boarding and travel insurance for children (under 16) when the accompanying adult(s) in the same booking, purchase a corresponding fully priced service. Some details:
“Family Extra” discounts are only offered when making a new flight booking.
There are 50% discounts off checked bags, allocated seats, Priority Boarding and travel insurance for up to a maximum of 2 children when 1 accompanying adult included in the same reservation purchases the corresponding fully priced item.
There are 50% discounts off checked bags, Priority Boarding and travel insurance for up to a maximum of 4 children when the 2 accompanying adults included in the same reservation, purchase the corresponding fully priced item.
Adults and children must be booked in the same reservation to receive Family Extra discounts.
When I saw the “family couch” introduced by China Airlines was recently discontinued, I wanted to offer up an alternative to help flying kids sleep soundly on long flights–on any airline.
Unfortunately, the BedBox (recommended here), which turns a kid-size rolling suitcase into a small bed or leg rest, is packing a hefty price tag of $199 US these days. But there is good news: this cost-effective solution for tiny travelers on any airline.
This inflatable leg rest becomes a seat extension for flying kids. Use it to create a lie-flat sleeping zone for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. For their older counterparts, leaving one chamber un-inflated creates a comforting footrest. Use it at either one-third or two-thirds the maximum height. Some adults also like to use this foot rest on low setting for extra comfort in flight, including as a head rest by placing partially inflated on their airplane trays.
And don’t overlook these other uses for your inflatable leg rest. Ahem, THE BACK SEAT of the car. Plus, it doubles as an inflatable stool for extra seating once you reach your hotel or cruise ship.
Here you can see the different height options with dimensions shown. Tip: If your plane offers even less leg room (I’m looking at you, Spirit Airlines), simply deflate as needed to fill the space.
Note: This same basic inflatable leg rest / seat extension appears for sale under multiple brand and product names. But most seem offered with two washable dust covers (for top and bottom) and carrying sack. Click here to see customer reviews and prices on Amazon (thanks for supporting this site with your clicks!).
The“Need to Know” airlines series for family travelers continues with these important tips for families flying China Airlines with a baby, toddler, or young children (and even if your kids are no longer babies or toddlers, don’t miss the new Family Couch seating tip and photo below!). UPDATED FOR 2018.
China Airlines’ Discounts for Infants and Children
China Airlines generally offers a 25% discount for children from 2 to 11 years and infants flying in their own seats, which can make a big difference in your family’s bottom line. If you have a choice between China Airlines and a U.S.-based carrier, definitely compare the total ticketing price for your whole family–not just the advertised fare.
To ensure the child discount is applied, make your reservation directly on www.china-airlines.com or use one of these sites that factors in the child’s age and available discount by airline (remember, not all do!) and may also have special offers or promo codes for extra discounts:
Click “More Advanced Options” in the search box to enter the ages of your children and your preferred airline (eg. China Airlines).
Flying China Airlines with an Infant or Lap Child
Buying Tickets for Your Infant/Lap Child (less than 24 months, no seat): Good news! You can now purchase international tickets for a lap child on China Airlines’ website, as well as international tickets for a lap child flying China Airlines on both CheapOair.com and OneTravel.com. In most cases, the lap child’s fees for international flights will be 10% of the applicable adult fare plus taxes and surcharges.
If you need to book your family’s tickets through the China Airlines’ site, be sure to call their reservation number soon afterward to let them know you will have an infant traveling with you, and make any additional requests for the lap child, such as an airplane bassinet or baby meals / kit.
Quick! Pin it to your travel board. This feature continues below…
China Airlines Baggage and Stroller Allowance for Infants
Lap Child / Infant Baggage Allowance: China Airlines allows one complimentary small checked suitcase weighing up to 22 lbs. (10 kg.) for each lap child, plus a fully collapsible stroller for no extra cost. See recommended Lightweight Travel Strollers here.
Using Car Seats on China Airlines Flights
China Airlines has no unusual conditions for using car seats on its aircraft other than they don’t want children over 40 lbs. using them. They may check to see that your child’s car seat is tested and certified in the country of its manufacture, so be sure you are ready to point to the label if needed.
Other Perks for Families Flying China Airlines with a Baby, Toddler or Young Children
Families can also take advantage of China Airlines’ children’s meals, baby food, toys, and baby care kits with diapers. Call reservations well in advance to request child or baby meals and care packages: 1-800-227-5118.
A Sad Farewell to the China Airlines “Family Couch”
Have your choice of airlines? Use the Airlines Comparison Chart in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide… to compare the family-friendly perks, amenities, and available infant/child discounts between more than 40 airlines.