Why Southwest Airlines Rocks It For Traveling Families!

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Traveling with a family can be tricky. It can be expensive. Things come up. It’s tough to get everyone’s calendars synced. Needs change. Southwest Airlines to the rescue. The fact that Southwest in budget conscious and very flexible make me loyal to this brand. Southwest Airlines really rocks it for families!

Here is why my family loves flying with Southwest Airlines:

  • Change Your Flights Without Fees. Unlike any other domestic airline, you can book flights [paid or points] and then make a change to them up to 10 minutes prior to boarding for FREE. This is golden for my family!
    • I often book flights on Southwest with the idea that we MIGHT go. Sometimes I am just dreaming. Sometimes I need to figure out if this trip works with everyone’s schedules. I book the flights and then figure things out. I can take more than 24 hours that other airlines let me have to get things figured out or wait to see if the other pieces of the trip will come together.
    • For example, we have tickets booked to go from Denver To Salt Lake City this winter because we want to ski at Park City Ski Area. I’m still not sure how the snow will be in Utah, so I’ll sit on these tickets until we have a clearer idea of snow fall, without worrying about change fees. Flexibility is key for my family!
  • Free Checked Bags. You get 2 free checked bags which saves you a bunch over other airlines unless you have elite status or have their credit card.
    • This is self explanatory, but if I was flying on United or other major airline carriers, I would pay a fee per bag if I did not have elite status or their branded credit card. This could cost my family hundreds. I hate to pay extra fees! 
  • Early Bird Check In. You don’t get a seat when you book a flight on Southwest, but you can pay $15 to get their Early Bird Check-In. Since you don’t have assigned seats you can just have one parent go on board early [just pay $15 once] and save seats for the whole family. Everyone does it, so it’s not strange.
    • If cost isn’t an issue then just get everyone in your travel party Early Bird Check-in when you purchase tickets. If you want to save some $ then just divide up your reservation and make sure one parent is going on early to save seats for the entire family.
  • Excellent Value/Use of Points. If you plan ahead, and sometimes last minute, Southwest offers really low cost travel options – which is great for my family of 4!
    • Southwest is a great option any time you are traveling last minute as they are definitely worth checking and at times offer an excellent value.
    • Southwest points are usually a better deal than most other airlines. For example, I wanted to fly from LA to Denver this month [November] and there are plenty of $44 [2002 points] or $79 [4045 points] one way. On United would cost me much more if I purchase a revenue ticket or between 12,000 and 25,000 points one way.
  • Easily Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest Points. If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points you can easily transfer then 1 to 1 and fill up your Southwest points account when you need them most. 

Southwest really works for our family. The things I love the most are their flexibility and low cost/low points. I regularly transfer Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest account to book flights. I love that I can leave the points in my rewards card until I need them – just in case I need them for some other reason. Southwest just makes my life so simple and helps our family to travel more!

How about the rest of you traveling families – what is your favorite airlines and why? 

Family Travel: Paris over Christmas for under $500 on United

Want to go to Europe? United Airlines is offering fares for under $500 to Paris from Denver over the holidays. Paris for Christmas anyone? If you’ve been thinking about going to France this may be the time to make it happen.

Here is a search from December 19th to the 28th. You can find different dates around the same time that work. Go to the search on Momondo to find these deals. Click here for the Momondo site. Let it load fully to see the deal. Then you can change dates and times to get the flight you prefer.

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If you have an Epic ski pass [Vail Resorts] you can ski at some European ski areas for free this winter. This includes France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Get the scoop on skiing Europe on your Epic pass here.

Will your family be heading to Europe this winter?

Family Travel: What I [Re]Learned On My Trip to Sayulita, Mexico

Sorry for the silence from my end this past week. I just got back from a last minute trip to Sayulita, Mexico with my kids [8 & 10] to visit a friend and her kids. My friend and I were solo for the week with both husbands traveling, so why not go? The friend I was visiting lives life fully! She is always packing in more in a morning than I get done many days. We have traveled with the kids lots, but this trip was incredibly humbling as a parent. Since many of you will be traveling this summer I want to pass along my lessons learned. Here is what I [re]learned:

1. Make sure your kids wear a rash guard/swim top if they are going to be spending the first few days submerged in the ocean and out in the sun. My 10 year old go so burnt [even though I applied sun screen–Badger–multiple, multiple times!] that he blistered, was so uncomfortable, and I believe got sunstroke and landed us in the hospital for fluids. I felt SO bad. Actually I still do. So maybe the waterproof sunscreens do have a place in our family or maybe we will just stick to the rash guard.

2. Hydrate! Ensure your kids are drinking LOTS! Honestly this is so important when you are outside all day in the sun. Somehow you have to double your water intake on a vacation! So buy the kids the cold water. Let them drink the icy limonadas.

3. Make sure you have sufficient entertainment for the kids in case of travel delays! We were delayed over 12 hours and finally ended up spending the night in Houston where I didn’t get my kids to sleep until 12:45am. Our family loves mazes, books, crossword puzzles, art supplies, and the good old iPad. Make sure they are with you, not under the plane!

4. Bring snacks–even if it’s a short flight. Our scheduled 2+ hour flight to Houston where we caught a flight to Denver turned into an over 6 hour flight as we had to circle forever, then were diverted to San Antonio where they had us on the ground for hours without food. United Airlines did not have food on the plane.

5. Throw caution to the wind and just go! We made this trip happen really last minute. It was great to just get up and go. You can do it! It makes for such great memories for the whole family. You don’t have to go to Mexico. Check out the National Parks right here in Colorado, spend the night at a cabin in the mountains, go camping, etc.

6. Get the kids involved and into the culture. I made sure the kids learned a little bit of Spanish before we left. I would practice phrases and words. They had to order their own food and ask in Spanish. They loved it! It made them feel so proud!

So along with sun burnt skin, dehydration, being stuck on a plane all day and having to spend the night in Houston, Mexico was just as I remembered. The people are so warm and friendly. They love it when you speak Spanish. The ocean is magnificent and so welcomed from a Boulder, Colorado family. The kids felt heart broken by the street dogs and wanted to take every dog without a collar home. They tried new things–and loved them [food, jumping from 30 ft. cliffs, surfing, etc.]. We felt really safe. We walked the streets at night. We met all sorts of people. We would do it again in a heart beat! I hope we make it happen sooner than last time [It’s been 10 years since I have been to Sayulita].