As much as we like to be in control, the truth is kid rules the airport. Getting through TSA alone is a struggle but TSA with toddlers is a whole different ball game.
If there’s no other time than to give in to their wants, it’s now. No one enjoys being two people in front of a toddler screaming at the top of their lungs because their parent forgot their favorite toy.
These seven tips for airport security with kids will make your travels smoother so you can get to your destination with your sanity intact. Buckle your seat belt because your family’s going to be all set for take off!
7 Things To Know When Going Through TSA With Toddlers
Pack favorite snacks in your carry-on.
Airport security lines can be very long, especially during peak travel times near holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keep kids happy by bringing along some favorite travel snacks, like fruit, granola bars or chocolate.
If you’re traveling with a child under the age of 2, you can bring more than the liquid limit in baby food, formula, milk, water and juice. Put these items in a separate clear plastic bag to show security and not slow down the bag check process.
Arrive early for airport security with kids.
When traveling through TSA with toddlers be sure to arrive early for your flight.
In Atlanta, we try to arrive at least 2 hours early, but if we’re traveling with the little ones we add time to be safe. Airports become a frenzy during the holiday season, so you may need to show up earlier depending on when you’re traveling.
Apply for TSA Pre-check or Global Entry.
Have you applied for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check yet? If you’re a U.S. resident who travels often, you should!
Yes, you must pay a fee and jump through a few hoops (an extensive online form and in-person interview). But the payoff in terms of sailing through security with kids is well worth it. Most U.S. airports and airlines recognize TSA Pre-check.
This means no more shoe removal (no matter your age), no more removing laptops or liquids from your carry-on (though you’ll still be subject to the same liquid limits), and much shorter screening lines.
The best part? Children under age 12 get pre-check status when traveling with a pre-check parent or guardian.
Global Entry costs a bit more for the five-year membership, but enables travelers to speed through customs when returning to the U.S.
If you are traveling with children who can follow instructions and handle responsibilities, you’re ahead of the game (I can’t wait until they’re that age). If they can help with the younger kids, even better!
But, when traveling with infants or toddlers, the responsibility falls on you to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. Traveling with your partner or another adult who can help will make a huge difference in breaking down tasks so that one person isn’t responsible for everything.
Be prepared that your car seat or stroller may not fit in the x-ray machine.
In this case, it will need to be hand-checked by airport security and will add a few minutes to your experience. One super important note is, if the airline loses or misplaces your car seat, you’ll be in a tough situation when you land. Airlines often have loaner seats available, but that adds more hassle to your trip.
Since we like to grab our rental car and start exploring new locations immediately, the thought of having to deal with a lost or damaged car seat is very unappealing.
So, although it is free to check strollers and car seats, we don’t think it is worth the risk. Plus, having a stroller in the airport is handy!
Try to Stay Relaxed
This is easier said than done when traveling let alone going through TSA with toddlers. First you’re flustered, then your spouse, then the kids. Managing a family and everyone’s stuff can be stressful, especially with a line of people behind you watching.
If you feel yourself getting stressed over something silly like a TSA agent trying to force the car seat into the x-ray machine, take a deep breath, look at your kid(s), and try to laugh it off. Even a forced laugh will help — and it’s contagious!
Enjoy your vacation
At this point, you’ve made it through TSA with your toddler so now it’s time to enjoy your vacation. Sit back, relax, and soak up some sun!