If you have ever flown on an airport with children, you know that airport security can sometimes be one of the worst parts of travel for a family with young kids. Trying to keep track of all the children and everyone's suitcases and belongings and still get everyone the right boarding pass that has their name on it, can get seriously overwhelming!
Travel is one of the most amazing gifts you can give your children. Opening up their eyes to this magnificent world that we live in is something that no classroom can teach. Children develop a sense of independence and security as they travel with their family. Those incredible memories and lasting relationships curated through travel are worth every penny and stressful situation.
While we all agree that traveling is amazing, not all of the steps along the way are that amazing. Let's go back to the topic of airport security. Yes, it's obviously necessary, and we are supportive of the process to keep everyone safe, but it can be one of the most stressful situations for a family with children. Sometimes you are greeted by eager to help TSA agents that admire your desire to travel with your children and are so nice to help. Other times you are greeted with impatient travelers who continue to huff and puff behind you while you pile your 12 bins and bags and children through the line. The spectrum can vary greatly on what kind of experience you will have when you approach the security line at any given airport. While it is a relatively small part of a trip if handled wrong it can really create un-necessary stress for any traveling family.
As the adult or parent that is traveling with children, it is up to you to make this process as stress-free and smooth as possible. We all know that travel day with children is already long and exhausting for both the parent and the child, but it's the parent's job to set the tone for the trip. If you end up with one uptight or stressed out Mama from a crazy airport security experience, it's going to set an unpleasant tone for the whole day. Relieving the stress of passing through airport security is just one small thing that we can do to make the entire day go a little more smooth.
There are several little things you can do before approaching that airport security line to make the process go seamlessly. Here's our list of things we do before we get there to make it all a little easier.
Talk with your kids about what's going to happen and what your expectations are for them and their behavior. Let them know that you need to be able to take care of things without having to watch them closely, so you need them to be alert and stay close to you. Let them know that they will need to respond quickly to any requests that you make of them since you will have your hands full. Whatever it is you need of them, let them know. Recently we took a long trip and we only packed carry on's. That meant that every child ages 8,7,7, & 5 was in charge of pushing their own carry on suitcase and their personal backpack. You will be amazed at what kids can do when a little responsibility is placed on them.
Don't Sweat it-
You will have nice, helpful people around, and you will find rude people as well. Stay calm and expect it to go terribly so when it's great, you are pleasantly surprised. Don't worry about how long it takes you to get everything up there on that conveyer belt, or how long it takes your little one to retrieve their jacket from the bin afterward. Don't pay attention to anyone else besides your family. We find that it is easier to keep track of everything if you do it yourself rather than have a bunch of people helping alongside you. Have one person in charge of making sure everything gets put through and retrieved after. Show your children you are calm, relaxed and confident and they will follow suit.
If you travel, you know that all airport security stations have regulations on what can come into the airport. There are also regulations on what things have to be inside and outside of your bags to go through security. Know these regulations beforehand and have your bags packed accordingly. Make sure you have your ID and boarding pass or any other travel documents readily accessible so you aren't holding the line up by having to search your purse for it. Make sure you have laptops easily accessible and put them in their own bin. Then make sure tablets and i-pads are out and together in a single layer in a bin. Grab a bin for jackets and shoes, (kids can leave shoes on), wallets and keys or anything else from your pockets.
If you are traveling with food (which we highly recommend bringing lot's of snacks to avoid the cost of airport food), make sure it's all together in one spot so when they have to search your bags, they only have to go through one of them. Put everything that you think might need to be searched in that same place. Food, liquids, toiletries, electronics, etc. all should be together. Make sure your liquids are under the 3.5 oz limit for carry-on's and empty any reusable water bottles you are bringing. Just be prepared ahead of time and have a plan as to what needs to happen first when you reach the line.
Lastly, after you finally make it through the scanners and all your bags have been through the x-ray machine and searched if needed, grab everything and take it to the benches close by to re-situate everything. Nothing irritates other passengers or airport staff more than the belt having to stop and wait for a long line of bags and belongings left on the belt. Just get everything of yours and head out of the way to reload it so that everyone else can proceed as normal.
Ta-Da there you have it! Now you have successfully made it through airport security without a hitch and everyone is excited about their upcoming flight. You took a situation that had the potential to be crazy and made it a positive experience by being prepared. Much like every situation with kids, a little preparation goes a long way. By simply helping our children to be aware and at east through these small travel steps along the way, we can help foster a positive travel experience. Your children will learn from your example as they watch you handle these somewhat stressful situations like a pro and will be better travelers for it!
What other tips do you fellow travelers have for making airport security easier?