You’re busy. You don’t have time for gimmicks and games. What you want is a straightforward way to get from “A” to “B.” The problem is that traveling with children is tough. Kids aren’t always known for being fast. Here are some ways to get everyone on the same page and out the door.
Before You Leave
Before you leave the house, make sure you make a checklist of everything you need to take with you.
Double-check your flight schedule – This is probably one of the most important things you can do. Obviously, if something is screwed up here, you’re not going to make it on the plane on time or at all. Check with the airline 24 hours in advance to make sure you’re departing on time. If you used your Chase Sapphire card to buy the tickets, make sure that you were credited with your frequent flier miles.
Sign up for alerts – You should sign up for email, PDA, and cell phone alerts. And, if the airline allows online checkout, do that. It will save you some time when you get to the airport. Print out your boarding passes at home. While airlines let you do this at the airport, it always holds you up. You won’t have to stand around with the kids while everyone snakes back and forth in line, waiting to get their tickets.
Prep the kids for security – TSA security can be confusing and boring for children. They’re not going to understand the process. So, prepare them for it. Make it a game so that they’re not crying and complaining the whole time. They may get impatient. But, that impatience might turn into a security problem for you at the checkpoint. Also, make sure that your children aren’t trying to be funny with security. No “my dad has a bomb” jokes in front of the TSA.
Skip the car seat if you’re able to. Unless you need it for the plane, it’s going to be a hassle to get it on there since it has to go through security.
Minimize clutter – Know what you can carry and what you can’t. You don’t want to get stuck with a million bags to juggle through the airport. You might find yourself alone with the kids and more bags than you can comfortably manage.
So, think realistically about what you can and can’t manage.
What To Do When You Arrive At The Airport
Assuming you’ve made it out the door, you still have to manage the airport. And, that isn’t always an easy task.
Bring stuff for your kids to play with – Small toys and games will help keep the little ones distracted. If you’re traveling with a kid that’s too young to distract him or herself, then you can use small toys and games, stickers, coloring books, and maybe even your cellphone to do the job for you.
Ask about seats – If you didn’t buy a seat for your toddler, you’ll have to let your child sit on your lap, which isn’t always ideal. But, most airlines allow kids under 2 to fly free as long as they sit on your lap. Now, if this goes on for the whole flight, you might be exhausted by the end. So, ask for an empty seat. And, if there happens to be one next to you, then you will probably be allowed to use it.
Take advantage of early boarding – Most airlines allow for early boarding. When they call for travelers who need extra time to board, that’s your cue. Use the extra time to stash you bags in the overhead storage, and get your kids settled in. Get everyone situated and set up for the flight.
Packing Your Bags And Security Concerns
Unless you haven’t flown in a plane since 2001, you know there are security procedures when flying. Follow the checked baggage guidelines, and make sure the kiddos don’t try to sneak on any containers that are larger than the allowed size. You should know which bags you can and can’t live without during the flight. If you have medications for the kids, it still has to conform to the rules. There’s a 3-ounce maximum for all liquids.
And, you’re only allowed one bag for screening for such liquids and gels, creams, and whatnot. And, all items must be removed before being screened. There is an exception for baby food, breastmilk, and formula. If you are bringing formula or breastmilk, TSA will also have to perform additional screening of the food.
Tell the TSA what you’re bringing on, that’s it’s larger than 3oz, and that it’s for your baby.
Alexandra Morley works landside at her local airport in an information assistant role. She goes out of her way to help people, but wishes common sense would prevail sometimes! She enjoys writing informative travel related articles in her free time.