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Tips for Getting through Airport Security with Small Kids

I think the most stressful part of traveling with kids (for me) is going through airport security. I absolutely dread it. I give myself a pep talk when we are going through the line to tell myself it's going to be OK and it usually is (although once, my stroller tested positive for explosives and I was detained for a little while...eek!). If the process is overwhelming to you also, use these 5 tips for getting through airport security with a bit more ease: 

1. Figure out what needs to come out of your bag ahead of time and put it all in ONE carry-on bag-- your bags of liquids, laptop, iPad, bottles of milk, etc. This way, when you get to the x-ray belt, you only need to open one bag and put everything into trays. When you get to the other side, you can put everything in the trays back into one bag. 

2. Before getting in line, put anything that might set off the metal detector into your bag-- cell phone, keys, belt, your son's hot wheels car, and even spare change. Also, remove your jacket/sweater and your hat. 

3. If you're bringing a stroller, make sure you check your airline's rules. Some airlines do not allow strollers to be gate-checked. Some airlines have size restrictions. We once got to the front of the security line and discovered that our airline did not allow strollers, so we had to go all the way back to the check-in desk, which caused us to miss our flight. (It also made for some super cranky kids who were already tired after getting off of a 10+ hour flight). If your stroller is passes all of the rules, make sure you take EVERYTHING out of it before getting into the security line. Strollers usually have to be folded and put onto the belt (even if it means you have to take the 2nd seat off or some of the wheels).

4. Before you get into the security line, communicate what's happening to your kids, even if they've done this a hundred times. I usually say, "when we get to the front of the line, put your backpack onto the belt and then step out of the way, so daddy can put your roller bag onto the belt. Wait for them to call you through the metal detector, then grab your backpack on the other side and step aside so other people can get their things." If I don't remind them of this process, they will sometimes try to put their roller bag onto the belt themselves or go through the metal detector three at a time. They also like to look at what's coming through the x-ray machine and have almost gotten hit by other people's roller bags being pulled off of the belt. Communication is key.

5. For travel within the USA, invest in TSA-pre if you can afford it. Truly, this makes such a huge difference. You don't have to take anything out of your bags or remove your shoes (unless the alarm goes off). I wish there was an international version of TSA-pre. I would get it in a heartbeat. 

I think going through security is stressful for me, not because my kids don't follow the plan, but because people behind us get so impatient. (I know because I hear their loud sighs and see their eyes rolling into the back of their heads as soon as they see little kids.) Usually there is more than one line, so I always tell myself that these other people do have the option to get into another line rather than audibly sighing behind us and if they do choose to get behind us, they need to exercise the virtue of patience (Oh, and that should be Tip #6-- be patient and just breathe!).

Happy travels!


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