Are you preparing to fly with a young child, maybe for the first time? Good luck. Ha. Kidding. It’s not so bad and you can totally get through this stress-free. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind to help you survive the airport and security! Already a frequent flyer? Be sure to comment below with your best tip!
Children always do better when you’ve told them what to expect. Let them know what’s going to happen by explaining the process in an age-appropriate manner. Some of my favorite tools for preparing kids for something new are books! They are great for helping you find the words and the pictures and stories give little ones something to relate to and remember
Make a plan and buddy up. This works for new flyers of all ages, not just trips to the airport with a young child. We even paired off for our FAMILY DISNEY TRIP. Pair up each person who needs help with someone who knows what they’re doing. Or if it works better, put one person in charge of the kids while the other is in charge of bags. Either way, know what’s happening ahead of time to avoid chaos.
This one may seem odd- but plan travel day clothing with the airport in mind. Remember that older children and adults are required to remove shoes and jackets- so dress accordingly. Avoid those lace up boots that take 10 minutes to put back on. Young children are usually exempt from these rules but you’ll want to make sure they’re comfy to avoid whining the whole way through. Additionally, most airports will have small children go through a metal detector with an adult. Make life easy and avoid an outfit for either of you with a bunch of metal pieces.
Plan for a Wait
There will be waiting- and waiting can be excruciating with a young child.. Whether it’s checking in, going through security, or sitting at your gate, you can expect to do some waiting. Plan on having small handheld activities easily available or a verbal game like ‘I Spy’ in your repertoire. My favorite on the go activity is reading! I’ve popped in some links just below for fun plane themed books for little readers…
Book for the Best Time
Sometimes you are stuck with what’s available or what works with an existing booking. However, if you have a variety of flight times available, consider your usual daily schedule. Don’t drag your 1 year old through security right at nap time or book a flight over a major meal with no snacks in sight. Remember to take into account the travel time to and from the airport, time at check-in and security, down time at the gate, and length of your flight. What will be the smoothest option with your kiddo?
Bring a Snack
I can’t be the only one with a child who’s a sucker for a snack. I always pack little snack packs EVERYWHERE we go in case the hunger hits or I need a bit of a distraction. Bring your child’s favorite snack and a small drink, too. Just remember the liquids rules for security and plan accordingly- and don’t forget to look into TSA exemptions to those rules if you’re traveling with an infant or young toddler.
Talk AIRPORT Safety
Safety is always a priority when traveling and heading to the airport with a young child is no different. Talk about holding hands, avoiding strangers, and what to do if you get separated. Make sure they know how to spot a security officer or airport employee.
Plan. For. Potty. Breaks. The last thing you want is to get ALMOST through the security line and hear an urgent plea for the potty. Ask before you get in line and consider doing what my mom always did to us as kids: “I know you don’t have to go but let’s all just try.” Did it work? Nearly every time.
Bring a Stroller
If you have young children and you’re going to use a stroller during your trip, bring it along through the airport. Consider it a child containment device. Your child can rest in their comfy seat and you can shove all your bags in the basket to make it easier on everyone to get around. Head to the desk when you get to your gate and ask them for a tag to gate check it. You’ll leave it in a designated area as you board and grab it on your way out as you exit the plane at your destination. Just keep in mind that you may have to put it through the xray machine during your security check so you’ll be folding it up, lifting it on the belt, and potentially taking off removable parts (we have to pop the tray off ours to fit it through the machine).
Note on carriers: I’m a big babywearing fan. I do not, however, like to babywear at the airport. Depending on the airport, airline, and employee you come across, you may need to remove babe to get through security. For ME, that’s more hassle than it’s worth when paired with juggling another kiddo and all of our bags. I pack my carrier/wrap/sling and just save it for when we arrive.
Ready. Set. Fly. We’d love to hear about your trip! Join our community on FACEBOOK and share your own tips and fun stories about how you all survived the airport with a young child!