This past year, I received so many questions about surviving the airport with kids. We all know that navigating an airport as an adult is no small feat and the plane ride alone is a daunting task. Now, imagine navigating the airport with a baby or toddler and all the extra luggage that comes with it. I’m proud to say that I’ve taken my 2- year- old on 36 flights+ (33 of them solo) since the age of 6 weeks and we’ve survived OVER half stress free with no hiccups. Today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ways to survive the airport with Kids Stress Free and stay tuned for a part 2 as I’ll discuss tips for the actual flight.
How To Survive The Airport with Kids Stress Free:
Surviving the Airport with Kids: Choose Your Flight Time Wisely
When making travel plans, I am typically accustomed to choosing the cheapest flight to get the job done but as a mom, there are many more things to take into consideration. When does your child typically take a nap? How crowded is the airport at which time? These are super important things to think about and the last thing you want to do is schedule a flight that causes your child to miss their nap.
My typical rule of thumb is to book a flight super early or late on an odd day if I can help it. Flying at these times will reduce your cost, encourage your baby/toddler to take a nap mid- flight and make for less stress when navigating the airport and TSA.
Surviving the Airport with Kids: Take Advantage of TSA Pre-Check
On my very first flight with my son, I was a ball of stress because of TSA. There is literally nothing more stressful than having to remove a sleeping baby from a stroller while taking your shoes off to walk through security. Then, you gather your ransacked bags and put them back together before heading to your gate.
Honestly, I have a headache just thinking about it. I tell anyone who’s planning to fly with small kids to eliminate the stress all together by getting TSA pre-check. There is magic in being able to keep your shoes on, not emptying your diaper bag and speeding through TSA in 1 minute flat because there’s never a line. The sign up is so worth it!
Surviving the Airport with Kids: Clear Bags and Cups Are Your Best Friend
Even if you avoid a long TSA line, parents spend majority of their time emptying diaper bags full of snacks and testing of the bottle/sippy cup for illegal substance. To save yourself the trouble and the time, remember that clear zip bags are your friends. Place all your snacks in one area so that they are easily removable when you’re asked to take them out.
Also, if you can help it, leave your refillable bottles and sippy cups empty until after TSA. You cannot travel with a full water bottle so ask one of the local restaurants to fill it up or purchase the water bottle before your flight. Flight attendance don’t typically mind giving a water refill either.
Surviving the Airport with Kids: Check Your Stroller at The Gate
Lugging a baby or toddler around the airport with no stroller or baby carrier is like asking for trouble. To make your way through the airport stress free, you’ll want to have some type of transportation handy. For this reason, I always check my carseat at checkin and check my stroller at the gate right before boarding the plane. Most airlines provide pink tags and take your stroller just as you’re about to enter the plane with your child.
However, some airlines have stroller restrictions making it difficult to accomplish this task. Remember, if the stroller is under 20 pounds (traditional or umbrella) then you’re good to go. If it’s over 20 pounds (Jogging stroller) then it’s at the discretion of the airline. I typically carry my baby carrier in case this instance happens. You’ll want to navigate the airport hands free if possible.
Surviving the Airport with Kids: Ask for What You Want/Need
Remember that you are paying big money to travel with these airlines and you deserve to have your needs met. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking the staff for assistance or anything to make your travel experience more enjoyable.
When I arrive at my gate, I always ask the attendant if there are any seats available. If so, they are more willing to move you and your child to an empty row. This way, you’ll have more space to stretch out. Plus, less stress over your child siting still on the flight and not bothering strangers.
Bonus Tips for Military Friends: Take full advantage of the USO in the Airport
To all my military friends, be sure to arrive to the airport in enough time to take advantage of the USO in the Airport. USOs are a blessing to military families all over the world and the same is true in the airport. We all know that travel is exhausting and traveling with small children can feel twice as hard.
If you have a valid military ID, be sure to take advantage of the free snacks, resting areas, nursery, and play rooms for your kids. This gives both you and them a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of downtime in a secluded and secure area.
I hope these tips are just what you need for a stress-free trip to the Airport with Kids. To read more travel inspiration and tips for you and your little one, click HERE to visit the travel tab. Happy Travels…