planeGoing through airport security with children can be stressful, and it can slow down the system for everyone if you are not prepared. My husband and I have headed through customs and security with three young children on several occasions and we’ve learned some things along the way.

First off, here are some rules that apply to everyone who is flying:

  • Your medication and all liquids and creams (3 ounces containers maximum) must be in a ziploc bag that you will remove from your carry on and place in a bin to be x-rayed.
  • Laptop computers must be removed from the bag and put in a bin by itself.
  • You remove shoes, belts, jackets or sweaters and take everything out of your pockets. These things can go in a bin all together.
  • You may have to go through the body scanner, have a pat down or have your hands swabbed when going through security.

Here are some important things to remember when taking your children through airport security:

  • Have a plan! Make sure everyone knows the expectations and their role. Kids are more likely to remember a bottle of water in a suitcase side pocket, so it’s good to fill the in on the rules.
  • Keep things simple for yourself and avoid wearing a belt or jewelry on flying days. Empty your pockets prior to getting to security and wear shoes that slip on and off easily.
  • If the kids have carry on bags, make sure they are not carrying anything that is on the restricted list and have them put their sweaters or jackets in their carry on before approaching security.
  • If you are traveling with your spouse or another adult, make sure just one of you has the medication/liquid bag and all electronics in his/her carry on so the other adult can focus on the kids.
  • Send the parent with the liquids through first, followed by the children and the other parent will be last. That way the kids have a parent on either side of the xray machine.
  • If traveling alone with children, send them through security first with instructions to wait for you on the other side.
  • Children under 12 do not have to remove their shoes before going through security.
  • Light up shoes will set off the xray machines (we learned this the hard way!) so tell the kids to leave them at home or take them off before going through security.

Other important details for travelers leaving the country:

  • You must have a letter of consent if you are traveling with your children (without their other parent) or someone else’s children. It should include the child’s name and birthdate and list where you will going and when you will be gone. There are templates online to help you and it is a good idea to get the letter notarized.
  • Have your itinerary, including destination addresses, readily available to share with the customs officer.
  • The customs officer will often speak to your children directly and expect them to respond. If you have a shy child, you may want to prepare them. I have never encountered a customs officer who was unfriendly towards my children.