Getting to the Airport

One of the first challenges when traveling with your family on an extended length trip is how to get yourself to and from the airport.  There are different options and you should compare the pros and cons of each of them.    Evaluate each of these and see what works best for you.

My family has used all of these depending on the length of our trip and the ages of our children at the time.

  • 1)  A friend or family member drives you to the airport and picks you up.

    PRO:  Easy for you.  Build lots of time into the arrival time.  For international flights, you need to arrive two hours in advance.  You need to take traffic and time to get through security into account.  You could plan way in advance and pay to join the TSA quick security program.  Be sure to print your boarding passes beforehand.

    CON:  With all your luggage, perhaps a car seat and stroller, your driver may need a large car.  If you have flights at odd hours, it may be inconvenient and a lot to ask.  Be sure to have your driver check with the airline website on the return to be sure your flight will be on time.  They can sit in the airport cell phone lot and you call when you land. Be sure to allow time to go through baggage claim, immigration and customs on the return.

  • 2)  Utilize long term parking.

    PRO:  This would mean you could drive yourself and not have to inconvenience anyone else.  You need to give yourself plenty of time on the outbound.  It’s good to check in your bags curbside if possible.  One parent would have to have to be able to manage the family while the other is parking the car.  It’s often a good idea to have the person parking have their own passport and boarding pass, go through Security on their own and meet the rest of the family at the gate.

    CON:  It puts a lot of pressure on the parent with the children to be able to manage them and their carry-on bags.  So, it depends on their ages and abilities.  Long term parking can get expensive depending on the duration of your trip. Calculate the cost and compare it to other options.  Don’t put the parking check ticket someplace too obscure that you forget where it is!  Remember to get your keys out and don’t put them in checked baggage.   Also a good preventive measure: don’t leave a garage door opener or auto registration in your car in case of auto break-in.

  • 3)      Park at an Airport Hotel

    PRO:  If you live a distance to the airport or have an extremely early flight, you might consider staying at an airport hotel the night before.  Find one that will allow you to keep your car at the hotel for free or for a nominal fee.  They typically have security. Use the hotel airport shuttle to get you to the airport on time.  You also don’t have a long or stressful morning of departure as you are pretty much already there. The cost could be added to a hotel credit card where you get points.

    CON:  You’ll have to pay for the hotel room and maybe dinner.

  • 4)    Airport Shuttle

    PRO:  An inexpensive way to get someone else to drive you.

    CON:  You may need to go to everyone elses’s house before yours if you are not last/first in order so it can add a lot of time to your departure and return.

  • 5)   Taxi

    PRO:  Easy and no fuss.  Depending on the distance to the airport, it could be expensive so you’ll need to compare it to other options.  It may not be that much more.  You need to be sure you order a vehicle that is large enough for your family and all your baggage.

    CON:  Cost and size of vehicle.  May need to use your car seat.

  • 6)  Airport Limo

    PRO:  These are not stretch limos like for a wedding party but a private driver used a lot by business travelers.  You have a dedicated driver and a large car.  Very dependable.  They can also meet you at the airport with a sign with your name on it as you exit Customs.  They have preferred parking and are quick, comfortable and convenient.

    CON:  They are not inexpensive.  That said, they are not as much as you may think when comparing to other options.  You need to decide how much this kind of convenience is worth to you.  For a long trip, they may be slightly more than a taxi or long term parking and less than staying at an airport hotel.