The Genius Tip That Makes The Stress Of Traveling With Kids A Little More Worth It

Do you remember the first time you ever took a trip by plane? For many, it's like a magic carpet ride: the nerves before takeoff; the butterflies as you zoom down the runway; that lurch in your stomach as the plane takes to the air; and the wonder of looking down at the world far below. It's a truly unforgettable experience

Unfortunately, the novelty quickly wears off, and navigating airports and enduring flights can be a stressful experience. It's another prospect altogether flying with kids, who can really keep you on your toes and add a lively element of chaos to the experience. There are the logistical challenges of handling all the extra luggage, keeping them entertained, and dealing with unexpected potty breaks or snack requests. Once on the plane, it's like herding cats at times as you try to prevent them from annoying other passengers too much. The last thing you want is a toddler reaching between the headrests in front and grabbing a fistful of some guy's hair.

The added stress is worth it, though. Seeing the amazement on their faces as they look out of the window at the billowing clouds can bring some of the magic back to even the most frazzled parent traveler. And using your kids to rack up extra air miles makes traveling with children even more rewarding.

Signing kids up for frequent flyer programs pays off in the long term

If you regularly travel by plane, you may have already enrolled for a frequent flyer account. But have you considered signing up the kids for the same bonuses? Scott Keyes of advises:

"They're free to sign up, and the miles they accumulate from flying in their childhood could easily tally up to three or more free flights by the time they turn 18. It's free money."

Those benefits might sound like a long way away when you've got so many other things to sort out before a trip, but it amounts to cash in your pocket down the line if you fly with children often enough. It's a sometimes overlooked perk because each passenger with their own seat accumulates the air miles — not just the person buying the tickets. As Summer Hull of The Points Guy emphasizes:

"Just like with adults, only paid fares are going to earn miles, but since most major frequent flyer miles in the U.S. don't expire anymore, your kids can start racking them up now and either you can use them for family trips or let them build up for the kids to use later."

Frequent flyer programs are available domestically and internationally. Points for children can earn everything from gifts and experiences for them to air miles for the entire family. Offering these perks makes sense for the airline, too, locking kids into brand loyalty from an early age.

Frequent flyer programs may vary from airline to airline

While most U.S. airlines and many major international carriers allow children to earn air miles in the same way as their parents, it's always worth checking the terms and conditions for any exceptions. Some companies won't allow kids to chalk up miles until they're over the age of two. At that age, they may be regarded as "lap infants," while the criteria for programs often dictates that the passenger has an eligible paid ticket. In other words, a child flyer with their own seat on the plane.

There is also a little work involved in getting frequent flyer accounts set up for your children as programs tend to vary from airline to airline. For example, Alaska Airlines requires a phone call to activate an account for kids under the age of 13. It is worth your time, however, as some airlines even allow families to pool their points to earn free flights quicker. Summer Hull says:

"JetBlue is a leader in this within the U.S., with family mileage pools permitted for up to eight people (with no relationship requirements). There are others, such as Frontier, that do have different versions of this, though it is still more common internationally."

Frequent flyer programs are free and all it takes is a little patience to get them set up for your kids. Some might even say it's child's play, and you could get a nice free trip out of it in the future.