Flying Your Family to Disney Without Going Crazy! Part One: Planning Ahead

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So you’ve decided that flying to Disney is the way to go.  I live in the Northeast, so our flight is short, but in my opinion necessary.  My parents were all about the road trip, but with two young boys, I’m all about getting there quickly.  So I’m going to share a few of my tips for a successful flying experience with the family. Disclaimer:  I make no guarantees here.  Flying these days can be rough.  But try a few of these ideas to ease the pain.

Planning Ahead

  • Picking Your Flight:  Pick a time that works for you.  If you are not morning people, don’t stress yourself out by trying to get a 6am flight.  Direct flights are not always financially feasible, but if it’s a matter of a small amount, definitely go that way!  Spend less on your souvenirs when you get to Disney. Obviously we are all traveling from different parts of the country, but we try to take a late morning flight which gets us in mid afternoon.  For many families, travelling during nap time works out well.  If your kid is easily distracted this is not a good plan.  Then you are left with a napless, cranky child.   
  • Discounted Flights: Many times if you go to your home airport there will be smaller companies that fly out of there to Orlando. For example Chip has Frontier and  Allegiant air that fly out of  Greensboro with direct flights to Orlando. Tickets usually run $49 each way. Just check the individual airline website for details as many of these companies will not show up on Expedia or some of the other travel sites. 
  • Bagging It:  We travel with a backpack with several pockets and use bags within the bag.  By that I mean using Ziploc bags, pencil cases, makeup bags, etc to compartmentalize your items.  Dollar Stores are a great place to find little bags.  Keep all like items together for easy access during the security check in and flight.
  • Travel Insurance:  If you are travelling during Hurricane Season or during the winter months, I strongly recommend this.  On the three trips I’ve purchased insurance, I’ve had to use it twice.  The company that works with Disney will handle all your flight rebooking and the cost.
  • Entertainment:  Purchase some small entertaining toys, books or games that will be new to your children.  Or put some of their favorites away for a while and reintroduce them.  It could be as simple as a Matchbox car!  Download apps,  movies or tv shows they haven’t seen before if you travel with a IPad or similar device.  Disney shows of course!   Coloring books with the “magical markers” are a big hit with this family.
  • Preparation:  If this is their first flight, talk with your children about the process.  Books are always great tools.  Especially inform them that they will walk through security on their own.   Practicing and play acting your flying scenario can be fun family time.

What to Pack

  • One Carry-on Per Person:  The trend now is to pack as much in carry-on  luggage as possible.  Remember you have to carry it through the airport so pack smartly.   We pack small, rolling bags for our kids with their toys, books and games.  Follow TSA rules ahead of time and have your toiletries and such at the ready.  Click here for TSA Tips for Traveling with Children.
  • Strollers and Car Seats:  You may check those at the gate, but I recommend  investing in a cheap folding carrier for any large car seats to get them through the airport.  It doesn’t have to be especially made for car seats, which will save you some money.  Ours is a $20 cart from Target with a bungee cord.  Don’t judge, it works.  Renting these pieces in Florida is also an easy option!
  • Snacks:  You can never have too many snacks, because any extras can be for the parks.  Bring something you wouldn’t normally give your child on an average day so that it’s special.  Colored goldfish, flat fruit rollups, etc.  Don’t forget something for you, snacks will keep the cranky parent and child at bay!   I also suggest packing an empty sippy cup for your kiddos so the drinks on the flight (and in the parks) don’t create a mess.
  • Comfort item for your child:  Do they have a Woobie, Teddy, or Lovey that never leaves them?  Make sure you don’t pack it in the luggage.  It will need to go on the security belt, so have that conversation ahead of time.
  • Emergency Supplies:  Any prescription medications you need to have on hand, pain reliever (for both kids and parents), wet wipes, phone chargers, etc.   At least a spare shirt, preferably a spare outfit.
  • Magical Express:  If you are taking the Magical Express, pack anything you might need within the first few hours of arrival.  Change of clothes, trip information, bathing suits, sunscreen etc.  Your luggage will be a few hours behind you so keep that in mind.
If there are any tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comment section.  Would love to hear from you!


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