Disney + Travel Tips || Part One - Flights

Part Two - Hotels, When to Book and Budgeting Click Here.
Part Three - All Things Disneyland Tips Click Here. 
Part Four - Flying with Kids Click Here. 

Part Two - Hotels, When to Book and Budgeting Click Here.
Part Three - All Things Disneyland Tips Click Here. 
Part Four - Flying with Kids Click Here. 

You guys! I'm so excited to share some of my travel tips with you all. We don't travel internationally... yet! But we do love our family getaways to Disneyland and Hawaii. Over the next couple posts I'm going to share all my tips for Disney travel with kids & how we make it work budget-wise! I'll get into Hawaii a little later! This post is in no way sponsored by any company! I may be using affiliate links to my favorite travel friendly products though :)

So to start, I want to talk about flights. Josh and I live in Utah (about a 10 hour drive to California). We've driven to California two times when we were first married and one time with our boys. After we drove with the boys this past time, we will never be doing that again! It was so long and we even stopped over night half way. The kids just didn't do well. Finley especially. He's our little needy child and long car rides are not his jam. It ended up making him constipated while in California and his sleep schedule was sort of thrown off the whole trip.

We fly whenever possible. The reason why we chose to drive this last time was because we didn't have enough points to fly (we used most of them for Hawaii in December) and the remaining points we decided to save to use later on this year. Anyway. Flying is a must for us so we use our Visa Southwest card. We've had this card for a few years now and LOVE it! It does have an annual fee ($99) but for us it's worth it! In the past 4 years we have only had to pay for 1 flight (for Copeland because we didn't have enough points) but only 1 flight that was around $100 round trip! Copeland has flown I think about 6-7 times round trip in the past 4 1/2 years. That means we've gotten nearly 18 flights for FREE! We usually take at least one trip where we have to fly per year, sometimes two if we can budget enough throughout the year.

Alright so let me break down why I LOVE our Visa Southwest card.

  • No paying for luggage. Yep! You get two free bags per person. That's a total of 8 bags for our family! For Free!!
  • Put big purchases on the card. We put all our big purchases on our card. When we were building our house, every trip to home depot, our garage door, electrical, etc., were all put on the card! We use it when we have any big bill. We also use this for our groceries every month and get about 600-700 points alone just for that! You can also put your utilities, car payment, etc on it and get points all month long! We need to start doing this because we would be getting over 1,000 points every month! 
  • You get 40,000 points when you spend X amount in the first 3 months for opening. This is what made us sign up for the card! When we first got our card we were poor college students with a new baby and a mortgage who desperately wanted a vacation. We signed up, used some of our points and have never looked back! 
  • 1 point per $1 spent. Pretty self explanatory.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions. This is great because you can travel whenever you want! We always find amazing prices from Salt Lake to California and we only use the Wanna Get Away pricing because it is the cheapest. Sometimes we can find roundtrip flights for around $100 but most of the time they're about $150 or typically somewhere around the 4,000 points mark. 
  • No change fees. You're points get put right back into your account if you need to change or cancel a flight. We sometimes will book a flight with our points and change it if there is a price drop! It's awesome! Or we will book flights when prices are amazing and then see if we can plan a vacation around those flights (ie., find a cheap hotel, car, etc). 
  • Family boarding. I believe most flights do family boarding. But for those of you who don't fly southwest, it's first come first serve seating. So the earlier you check in (24 hours in advance) the more priority you get when it comes to boarding or you can pay extra per ticket and get early bird check in, however, if you have kids you get family boarding. We almost never check in super early and when we get to the gate we get to pick our seats right after business class. So we always get to sit together. 
Okay and this has nothing to do with our card but take advantage of flying with kids under two years of age! They are free if you have them sit on your lap. We took as many vacations as possible when Copeland and Finn were both under two because of this! 

How to find cheap flights. I'm just always checking flights. Always as in once or twice a month-ish. I like to see what flights are doing price wise and sometimes Southwest will have their sales so I just like to check every now and then to see if they're at a decent price. 

You can also use Hopper. I've heard great things about this app but it does not include Southwest flights because Southwest doesn't share data with automated algorithms who chart flight prices. And honestly they don't need too. Southwest flights are usually the cheapest I've found. I really just love Southwest! And Delta, those are my two favorite but Delta is typically way way more in price! Just to compare, I checked flights for September (4 months out!). Same time of day, Southwest $156 RT with free luggage, Delta $180 RT + $25 for first bag each way ($50 total) = $230 RT. Total savings of $74 using Southwest.

And for the record, I've never had a bad experience with Southwest. The staff has always been incredible and friendly! The flight attendants have always been so helpful with the boys, we just love them! Again, not sponsored by Southwest or Visa.

If you guys want to sign up for this card I'd love if you guys would use my referral code/link! Again this is not sponsored by Chase or Southwest, but they have a great refer a friend program that even YOU can take advantage of once you get your own card and refer your friends! You can sign up using my referral code by clicking HERE!

To learn more about the refer a friend program, CLICK HERE!

Disney + Travel Tips || Part Four - Flying with Kids

Part One - How to Fly for Free Click Here
Part Two - Hotels, When to Book and Budgeting Click Here.
Part Three - All Things Disneyland Tips Click Here. 

I wouldn't say I'm an expert flight traveler with kids but we have taken lots of flights with them and I'm just going to share what works for us.

  • Check EVERYTHING. We literally check as much as we can. I've already covered that when flying Southwest you get two free bags per person. We usually take one large bag and a small bag when we travel. This next trip however since we wont have a car we'll be taking a second bag full of food. But honestly when you have that many free bags check all the things haha. Take as little as possible onto your flight. The only thing we try to take as a carry on is anything of value (ie., camera, ipad, laptop, chargers, phones.) Just anything valuable I bring onto the plane with us and I'm crazy about luggage getting lost (knock on wood it hasn't happened yet) so I make sure to pack one outfit per person in my carry on just in case we were without luggage for a day or two. It's so much easier to go onto a flight when you only have one carry on VS a carry on for everyone. I do however, let the boys take a small child size backpack with snacks and toys. That is, one backpack shared between them because lord knows I'm the one that ends up carrying it. 
  • Check your stroller at the gate. We will check everything we need to when getting a boarding pass except our stroller. It's easier to put the boys in the stroller and get to our gate than A) carrying them, B) listening to them complain that "it's too far and my legs hurt and my arms hurt and my nose is cold" haha or C) having them run around like the crazy toddlers they are and try to wrangle them in. Checking the stroller at the gate, just do it. BUT make sure to check it in prior to boarding. You don't want to go to scan your ticket and not have your stroller ready with it's check-in tag. So as soon as you get to your gate, find a Southwest employee and tell them you need to check your stroller and they'll help you out. 
  • Have some things for your kids to do on flight. Luckily for us the flight form Salt Lake to California is less than 2 hours but the kids still get restless. We like window clings, water works books, stickers hidden in Easter eggs, movies uploaded on the iPad, etc. Just busy play. Also, yes you can bring packaged snacks on the plane when traveling with small children. Just tell the TSA beforehand and they'll help you out!
  • Fly early in the day! This is so big. Especially when you're flying into LAX and have to get to Anaheim. We've booked flights before for after Josh gets off work, so like 6 or 7 pm. BAD idea because we typically wouldn't get to our hotel until nearly midnight, not fun with kids. We've learned from this and now try to get into LA around noon-ish. That way we usually get to the hotel right before check in which gives us time to chill out and relax. (tip: when you land and know you'll be early to the hotel call your hotel and tell them you plan on being early to see if they will have your room available) We've almost always been able to get early check in when we give them an hour or two notice.
  • Mentally Prepare. So this sometimes works for us and it's something we like to do; Mentally prepare the kids for the flight. We start about a week or so in advance and just get Copeland and Finn pumped for the trip. We talk about going on a big plane, that it's taking us to California, etc. We talk about manners on the plane and being respectful. I mean obviously a 2 year old isn't going to be that respectful when he's grouchy but it does help Copeland at least, to know that other people will be on the plane with us and to try and be a good boy. 
  • Get up and walk if you can. When the seat belt sign goes off and the kids are restless, I do let them run down the plane and back. Josh or I will go with them to make sure they're not bugging anyone but it just helps get the wiggles out. And a smiley toddler running up and down the isle is way better than a screaming one trying to sit still, so most people don't mind. Also, we've had plenty of times where the boys have been just pissed. It sucks, but I mean, that's life. You do what you can. We usually sit in the back of the plane, grit our teeth and try to get through it haha. 
Have more tips? Share them in the comments!