Each time I embark on an air travel trip I am reminded of what an adventure it can be!
And I’m a grown-up! I marvel at the challenges faced by parents of young children today. Getting through the security check point with diaper bags, strollers, toys, snacks, gear can be daunting.
If boarding a flight with the kids is part of your travel plan, here are a few tips to help you avoid snags in the system:
Be prepared. Print boarding passes in advance. Confirm flight departure times. Remind older children to bring their IDs and have yours ready. Arrive at the airport with time to spare.
Remember 311. TSA’s 3-1-1 program means:
Don’t forget your passports. Will you be spending time on the beach in Mexico or skiing Whistler in Canada? Don’t forget. Passports are required.
Drink up. It is important stay hydrated when traveling. But water bottles are not permitted through the security line. Rather than buy high-priced water bottles in the airline gate area, bring an empty bottle through security and fill up at the drinking fountain. It’s more eco-friendly too.
Pack your snacks. Airlines rarely serve complimentary food on board. So avoid expensive airport and onboard dining options by packing healthy and familiar food for the flight. By keeping everyone fed in a timely manner, you’ll avoid cranky kids and parents.
Onboard entertainment. Talk with your children about how you will spend your time on board. Then be sure to pack the books, art projects, ipods, games, headsets and other gear necessary for the flight.
Stay informed. The rules continue to evolve and seem to vary slightly by destination. So before you head to the airport check the TSA website for the latest updates. Resources: www.TSA.gov; www.travel.state.gov.
Backpacks or roller bags for all. Children like taking responsibility for their own gear. Ask everyone to carry as much as possible in their own backpack or carry –on. It’s good practice and lightens the load for the adults.
Stick together. Family members can get separated during the crazy process of going through crowded security lines. Let TSA representatives know you are traveling as a family if they try to steer you to apart. If you do lose sight of one another, plan to meet at a designated spot on the other side.
Be Polite. Make sure the kids (and the grown-ups) are aware that while moving through the security line, it is not the time for jokes or silliness. An ill-timed, kooky comment ( no matter how innocent the intent ) can cause unexpected and unpleasant consequences.
International travel. Different country, different rules. Shoes on? Shoes off? Computers out or in? Review country and airport guidelines before departure. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when moving through security in another country.
Have a great time!