When you’re traveling with kids, getting to the airport can be half of the battle. Everyone knows that Sea-Tac Airport may seem close to home, but once you add in traffic on I-5, closures on the Viaduct, and a sprinkle of rain, that quick, 10-mile jaunt south of the city can turn very bad, very quickly. If your holiday plans include a trip to Sea-Tac this year, try one of these kid-friendly airport transportation options that will get your vacation started as soon as you leave the house. Happy travels!
If taking your own car to the airport is really the only option — trust us, we understand that sometimes it’s just easier that way — at least give yourself the best shot at making it quick and somewhat reasonable, price-wise. There’s no denying that driving right up to the on-site Sea-Tac parking lot is the quickest option, if you happen to be running a bit late to your flight, but it will cost you your firstborn child to park there (currently $35/day or $130/week). As a reliable alternative, try Ajax ParkingRUS, which is a family favorite because they make trips to the airport so incredibly fast and easy, and for a fraction of what it will cost you to park at the airport.
A few tips from families who use Ajax: Make sure you follow the directions to the parking lot from their website, not your GPS. Also, take note of which parking lot you’re parked in — there are two, each with a different shuttle, which can cause some confusion when you get back to Seattle from your trip. Lastly, you can reserve your parking spot via email on their website, where they also often have discount coupons!
Light Rail It
You’ve probably heard about families taking the light rail to get to the airport… and you’re probably skeptical. We admit that if you have 35 bags of luggage, 12 car seats, 91 carry-ons and a toddler, this might not be the option for you, as there is a bit of “lugging” necessary to get from your car onto the light rail and then into the terminal. But, if you have kiddos who are old enough to carry or pull their own suitcase or carry-on bags, or you are travelling on the lighter end, car-seat free and with suitcases that can easily be managed by the adults, we highly recommend light railing it to Sea-Tac. With stations scattered all over Seattle, it’s easy to jump on at your closest location — their website is extremely helpful in planning your trip, finding the best route to get to Sea-Tac easily and how to navigate the stations, including where to get dropped off and daily fares.
Speaking of fares, kids are free on the light rail and adult tickets start at $2, adding 5-cents for each mile you travel, making it very budget-friendly and leaving more vacation money for souvenirs (yay!). First time light rail traveler? We love the Trip Planner on the Sound Transit website. You can enter your starting address and what time you need to be at the airport and it will give you exact leaving times and directions, including which buses to take to get to your nearest light rail station!
You guessed it… Airport transportation? There’s an app for that! While you may consider Uber your date night transportation go-to, keep it on your radar for family-friendly rides to the airport as well. Using Uber is a great solution for families who are bringing car seats on their travels. While it’s not inexpensive (around $50 to the airport from downtown Seattle), it’s very reliable and in most places in Seattle, you can request a car via the app and have one to you in less than 10-minutes. Uber also wins major parent travel points for being able to request the size of vehicle you need for your family — an SUV for bigger families or travelers with a lot of luggage to a super efficient (and more cost-friendly!) hybrid car for those mom-and-me getaways. Jump on the Uber Seattle website to read more about how Uber works (you enter your credit card on the app and everything is charged to your card when you arrive at your destination, even the tip!). Just download the app onto your smartphone to get started!
Town Car It
It’s a traveling dilemma. You won’t need car seats on the airplane or at your destination, but you obviously need them to get to the airport. Thankfully, many town car services will arrive with car seats locked in and ready to ride, so you can just hop in, buckle up and head to Sea-Tac. Try Abe Town Car Services, a favorite in Seattle because their cars are clean, the drivers are always on time and the rates are reasonable (about $45 from most Seattle neighborhoods — you can check your zip code on their website).
Note: Many families have warned us that there is a similarly named town car service in town that isn’t as fantastic, so make sure you’re getting the correct Abe’s when you Google or book a car for your trip!
Have you seen those cars driving around Seattle with the big, pink mustaches on their front grill? Those are Lyft cars! Built on a ride-sharing model, Lyft employs drivers who use their personal cars (don’t worry, it’s very safe!). This is obviously a BYO car seat situation, which can be a hassle, but if you’re travelling with kiddos who are booster seat-friendly and you are planning on bringing those with you as you travel, Lyft will work well. The service is managed via an app, which you can download for free onto your phone and all rides are charged via donation onto the credit card you register. It’s kind of like having a friend give you a lift to the airport, but without having to bug your real-life friends. Be sure to leave plenty of time to request a car before you need to get to the airport, as cars can be limited during certain days and times.
Before you get to the airport, be sure to read up:
Turn a Layover into a Playover: 12 Reasons Sea-Tac Rocks
How does your family get to Sea-Tac when you’re heading out of town? Let us know in the comments section below!
— Katie Kavulla