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What You Need to Know if You're Traveling With Kids in 2018

Family Travel
by Claire Litton Cohn Jan 30, 2018

You may be a veteran? of traveling by yourself or even with your kids, but changes to guidelines and regulations can tangle up your plans beyond the assistance of your travel insurance. If you want to save yourself a hassle and avoid missing naptimes, check out this list of travel changes that might impact your trip with your children in 2018.

REAL ID Act for travel within, to, and from the United States

On January 22, the next stage of the REAL ID Act came into effect for US residents. This means that anyone traveling within the United States or, in some cases, to or from the United States, can most likely no longer use state ID or driver’s licenses to board an aircraft. The Homeland Security website says “Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver’s licenses issued by a state that is not yet compliant with REAL ID and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel.” This means that you will need a passport or other acceptable form of ID in order to board an aircraft. If your home state has been granted an extension, you have until October 1, 2020 to either update your driver’s license to REAL ID standards or get yourself a passport.

Be aware that if you are boarding a plane with your children, if they are under eighteen, they do not need their own identification AS LONG AS your identification (or your partner’s) is acceptable. This means your kids will not be allowed to board a plane if your ID is not up-to-date.

Global prices will rise, but so will budget airlines

Global airfares and hotel prices are predicted to rise by more than 3% in 2018. Rising costs of fossil fuels coupled with segmented individual pricing, as travelers can pick a variety of seat and transport options, mean that prices overall are driving upwards. Hotel pricing, similarly, is rising to compete with AirBnB taking away slices of their market, and as hotels are more likely to provide high-tech services to clients.

However, budget airlines are popping up all over the place, offering some extremely cheap options for travelers going to specific destinations — like WOW Air, which encourages layovers (and “stayovers”, allowing travelers to extend layovers for several days if they want to) in Iceland to help promote the Icelandic tourist economy. This means that you can still find cheap ticket options despite the confusing array of fees, charges, and taxes.

Self-driving cars becoming more popular

In 2016, Uber launched a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, PA — I’ve seen them, they are very interesting-looking — and are looking to expand their self-driving fleet by 24,000 cars over the next year. Their U.S.-based competitor Lyft is also looking to put self-driving cars on the road over the next few years. What could this mean for your travel with kids?

Well, it means crossing the street with your kids will be much safer than it would be if every car had a human behind the wheel. Cars have been trained to be sensitive to unpredictable behavior, and even to recognize kids hiding between two parked cars. The more self-driving cars on the road, the safer your child pedestrian will be.

However, it is worth noting that there hasn’t been a lot of thought given to the safety of children riding in autonomous cars. It is illegal in many countries for children under three to travel in any kind of motorized vehicle without the appropriate safety devices. Children over three have a lot more leeway under certain circumstances (such as over short distances). Safety seats can range from mandatory five-point harness rear-facing infant seats to small armless “boosters.” Since self-driving cars in Uber’s fleet are just replacing cars with drivers, which are also notoriously ill-equipped with appropriate child safety devices, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for an awareness of this issue.

Increasing awareness of child safety on “family friendly” vacations

The UK newspaper The Telegraph has vowed that 2018 will bring more awareness of family travel danger as they demand that the travel industry provide statistics to a central database so families booking holidays are better informed. Most parents assume that when they book a “family friendly” vacation or contact a resort with a kid’s club, certain basic safety precautions will be in place: like fences or barriers around pools. Currently, there is no information about what the causes of accidents or deaths for children on vacations might be, so there is no way for parents to make informed decisions about possible destinations or methods of traveling. Keep checking back in with Telegraph Travel for more information about this special goal, though, and hopefully, an available database of information will be presented by the end of the year.

Dreamliners make very long haul travel more accessible

On March 26, Qantas will launch the longest nonstop flight in the world: from London’s Heathrow to Perth, Australia. The flight will last 17 hours and will cover over 9,000 miles. With Boeing’s fancy new Dreamliners making very long haul travel more likely, we have to look at what those trips would actually look like for those of us likely flying coach. Dreamliners have seats configured to fit 9 passengers across, in a 3-3-3 distribution, which means you won’t be quite so tightly packed in as you might in a long-haul Airbus (which is usually 3-4-3). The pressure in Dreamliners is higher, meaning more air in the cabin and higher humidity, so less dehydration.

As anyone who’s tried to adjust a toddler to a time change knows, your body usually takes one day per time zone to fully adjust. Changes to the in-flight experience can make this a lot easier for everyone. Qantas has also been working on cabin lighting, temperature, and food service options to make jet lag adjustment easier on the human circadian rhythms. Hopefully, these changes will mean more sleep for everyone in the very near future.

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