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Summer travel: Watch out for amateurs

By Brett Snyder, Special to CNN
Vacationers and road warriors mix at the airport during the summer vacation season.
Vacationers and road warriors mix at the airport during the summer vacation season.
  • Summer tourist season can make business travel much harder
  • To avoid slowdowns at the airport, avoid security lines that include kids and strollers
  • Sitting in the last row eliminates chance of a kid kicking your seat during the flight
  • Invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones
  • Air Travel

Editor's note: Brett Snyder writes a weekly travel column. Snyder is the founder of air travel assistance site Cranky Concierge, and he writes the consumer air travel blog The Cranky Flier.

(CNN) -- Business travel during the summer can be a whole lot different from traveling during the rest of the year, and I don't mean that in a good way.

You know how it is. When you fly on weekdays on non-holidays between September and May, it's usually you and a bunch of other road warriors who know the travel drill.

But come May, the strollers and flip-flops come out in full force, and that can make business travel much harder. Family vacationers often come with small children in tow, and while I love kids, we all know they can make even simple tasks more difficult.

So here are some tips on navigating summer tourist travel season.

1. Run from small children

How many times have you passed the ID check at security and agonized over which X-ray line to choose? The right answer is always to avoid the one with kids and strollers.

It takes a lot of time to get the kids out, unpack liquids, take shoes off, etc., and you don't want to be stuck behind that. Some airports have self-select lines for novice versus experienced travelers, so use those if you can.

2. Sit in the last row

This one probably seems counterintuitive. There is nothing generally more hated than the last row, which often has seats that don't recline.

But you can think about it another way: Would you rather be in the last row, or would you rather take the chance that a kid behind you will be kicking the entire way? That's what I thought.

3. Three magic words: noise-canceling headphones

This is actually a good tip any time of year, but it can be particularly helpful during the summer travel season, when the chance of screaming babies is higher. (It's also highly recommended for evening flights into Vegas.)

Noise-canceling headphones can make the difference between getting some rest and staring at the seatback while cries roll through the cabin. It's not reasonable to expect that parents can always magically stop their children from crying (though it is reasonable to expect that they try), so be proactive and protect your ears.

4. Bring candy

Sure, this may sound like something out of a child molester's playbook, but there are good, legitimate reasons to bring candy. Sometimes, kids simply can't be consoled, and they're going to cry. This can be especially true if their ears get plugged up.

But sucking on candy can help to relieve the pressure, and it gives them something to do with their mouth instead of just screaming. One note of caution: Don't give the candy directly to the child. Ask parents if they would like a piece for their child. (And no, don't offer this choking hazard to babies.)

5. Fly up front

If you have the cash, pay for a ticket in first or business class. There's no guarantee that families won't be up there (unless you're flying Malaysia Airlines), but there is less of a chance. Traveling with kids can get expensive, so you're more likely to see larger parties in the back of the bus to keep costs down.

When all else fails, it's best to just bring your patience. If you'd like, buy an app on your phone that lets you count down the days until the end of the summer travel season so that you can return to your normal travel habits. Good luck, and happy flying.