Traveling is hard. Traveling with kids is even more hard. I have always loved to travel but have had the chance to do so more recently and it has been with 3 kids trailing behind me. Traveling is hard, but it is also fun and amazing and where memories are made. In the last year and a half our life and job has changed and we are able to now fly standby! This is a great blessing but it also has a lot of its downsides.

Let me paint a picture for you of what it looks like to fly stand by:

This means you DO NOT have a set “for sure” seat on the plane. It mean if there are any seats left then you might make it. I say might because there is a list of lots of standbys and they put them on according to rank. This depends on several factors:

  1. How long you have been working for the airline
  2. What airline is flying the flight

If the people above you take the seats… then you miss the flight.

There are also several other factors that are out of your control to know if you will make the flight or not:
  1. Now, you do have a list you can see, but people “list” themselves and then decide to change plans. And they do not remove themselves from that list. So now the list looks long, and then you will decide not to go because it “looks” like you will not make it.
  2. Or you have paid customers that miss their connection.
  3. Some book through for several layovers and decide to not finish their booked flight.
  4. Then you have the flights that are cancelled and all the customers are put onto your flight at the last second, and take all the available seats.
  5. A lot of times, at the last second you will have 20 standby people jump right before the flight.
Really, you NEVER really know if you are going to make it or not.

This means you have to be VERY flexible in your travel and be prepared for the long haul. You have to make a plan A, and plan B, and a plan C, D and F. Sometimes standby can really pay off and be worth it. Other times it really is not worth all the trouble and effort. Let me put this out there: if you have family that work for the airlines do not ask them for passes.

These passes from and family members are called BUDDY passes.

You know the list above in rank I was talking about? Buddy passes are at the bottom of the bottom. You also need to know…these tickets are NOT free. You do pay for them, and sometimes you can find a real flight, with an assigned seat for you CHEAPER than a buddy ticket. So if you can plan ahead, book ahead of time then it will be so much better, and probably cheaper. There are times when the buddy pass is worth it, and that is if you need a last minute flight OR you are trying to go over seas- international. If it is not one of these, I would go the other route and find your own ticket than a buddy pass.

Traveling standby is 50/50 good and bad.

You can never make plans and let people know your coming because you do not know you are going to make it until the last second. This means not only you have to be flexible but your family will have to learn to be. You will not have any set plans until you make it up in rank and are at the top of the standby lists. So this means it is much more difficult at first but will get easier to plan.

My kids have learned not to plan on anything. Several times they have gotten seats and then been taken off after they thought they made it. They have learned to handle disappointment and to be flexible. We might not always sit together, and so they have gotten comfortable sitting alone. They have learned to know that we will have a plan A and other back ups plans and to be grateful if any of those work out. We have missed several flights, several times and sometimes traveled for 40+ hours to get home. Since you do not know if you will for sure make it, I wanted to list some things I have learned along to the way to make things easier 🙂

  1. Always take passports. This way you can go where ever is open at the time of travel if you miss plan A.
  2. Take reading books, coloring books, crayons, game books to pass the hours waiting.
  3. Always wear shoes and pack sandals.
  4. Pack for very type of weather. Wear pants and jackets and pack cooler clothes and always swimsuits.
  5. Each kid wears and carries own backpack, you DO NOT want to check baggage, this makes it more complicated when you miss flights. I can pack for 5-6 days in a backpack for the kids.
  6. Each kid has own tiny, cheap blanket in backpack. This has saved us many time.
  7. Each kid has own headphones. I found these kid size ones on amazon and for smaller ears use over the ear headphones. These will help you not get bugged every 5 minutes in complaint that the headphones will not stay in. 
  8. Tablets and chargers. We all know these can save our sanity. They are also good and serve as the TV on some flights that do not have the TV’s. DO download the apps for each airline you might fly BEFORE you get on the plane.
  9. Pack extra grocery shopping bags for dirty clothes or messes.
  10. Ponchos, you never know where you are going to go and we have used these several times. I also carry a small umbrella.
  11. I have a traveling bathroom bag, in it has all the kids toothbrushes. These stay in this bag and make packing and un packing much easier. Also if packing in a hurry I know the small but necessary stuff is taken care of.
  12. Trust me you will start getting sick of the airplane snacks and drinks. I always have granola bars and snacks packed for the kids for the plane and in case we get stuck. I have my own tea and tea bags and just ask for hot water.
  13. If I know we are going to be over night or there are slim chances I do pack a small sleeping bag. These small ones have been awesome when we have had to sleep in the airports. I do not have one for everyone, this is why they have their blankets and small travel pillows.
  14. Shampoo bars! These are GREAT. There are several companies that make them or you can make them HERE. This means you have a bar that washes hair, face and body for the whole family and no packing and liquids.
  15. I do pack a small first aid and a small bottle of detergent to wash clothes if we get stuck longer. Small bottles of essential oils of: peppermint for stomach, throwing up, diarrhea and nausea. Lavender for burns and calming. On guard in case someone starts getting sick, and helichrysum for bleeding and cuts. And I do have a small 2oz bottle of ionic silver that I can use for everything and anything that comes up.
  16. I do always have natural sleeping pills to help the kids if they are having a hard time with jet lag. I like the Zarbee’s Brand.
  17. And pack a car charger for rental cars, then you do not end up having 10 from buying so many and wasting money.
  18. Apply for the Global Access. This will get you through lines quicker internationally and counts as TSA on the state side. Having this has saved us several times with time in being able to get through the line quicker!
  19. Oh. Do not forget the ear plugs. Which I sleep with every night and are my comfort and sanity.

See? I have learned a lot through some hard experiences, and when it works out it is worth it. Experience is the best teacher so I hope you can learn from me so you do not have to learn the hard way. After all thats what this website is all about…mostly. One last thing… keep all the important stuff in your backpack, like the tablets etc just in case the kids ever leave theirs behind.

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