After starting my mini travel series I have discovered all kinds of great blogs about traveling with children. There is one post that I have particularly enjoyed called “Five Ways to Usher Small Children Through an Airport Without Losing or Killing Anyone.”
In it Bronwyn mentions how handy the trunki can be (I’ve reviewed it here) and gives a humourous and thorough analysis of the pros and cons of a stroller/pram. Really, she covers the entire rigmarole of getting through an airport with young children. It’s worth a read if you’re having anxiety attacks getting your head around the whole thing to help work you through the issues.
I’ve been inspired to add my own tips on how we handle the situation. These are mainly geared towards travelling with kids who can walk easily (3+ years old) and when you have a partner in tow.
1. Walk like the elephants.
We create a line with Daddy elephant leading the pack and Mummy elephant making up the tail. Mummy elephant generally spends her time yelling “follow Daddy!” while making sure none of the crew has been lost. This is useful because holding hands is not always possible when everyone is carrying luggage.
2. Go team!
I have to admit that I was inspired by The Duggers and their clan of at least twenty (!!) on this one. When it came to getting through immigration, customs etc, we would divide into teams. My husband would mind one child and I would mind the other. We would have a clear conversation about who was with which child and distribute passports and other documents appropriately. The Duggers would divide their many children into pairs, with the eldest minding the youngest, second eldest minding the second youngest…with the exception being if there is a baby, the baby is Mum’s responsibility.
Sometimes, when out on my own with the children and have to attend to something (like at the checkout), I will try to implement another plan. I ask the two children to hold hands with each other. The theory being that one will cry out if the other runs away. It has had varied success, especially as they have got older and less anxious about heading away from Mum. I think with more intense training this could begin to work, but it also may cause my kids to have intensely negative emotions about holding hands due to all the yelling which may be involved.
3. Dress them cute.
This may sound a little strange to some people, but I feel it can get you across the line. When the kids are dressed in adorable outfits it makes people’s hearts melt that little bit more. The whole vibe can take a turn for the better. And when the vibe is cool, things can run a lot more smoothly. People are just more helpful, all round: Airport staff, other passengers and probably yourself. Because no one’s heart is melting more than yours (maybe).
I don’t mean you need to dress your child as a cute puppy or the like. It’s more “Sunday Best.” For young lads, a button down shirt with a collar and tailored pants (i.e. not track pants). For young ladies it’s more flexible, but I suggest no licensed merchandise and a nice pair of shoes (not sneakers, unless they’re trendy and very clean). Babies don’t usually need any help in looking adorable, but it’s still fun to dress them up (or is that just me?). Bonus points if you manage to dress your kids matching, like models in a catalogue. People will sigh with the cuteness of it all. Cynics will be repulsed, but when you’re trying to get through an airport with kids, cynics aren’t that useful anyway.
Outfits also add to the sense of occasion. Depending on your child, this sense of occasion can help them behave differently. “Restaurant manners” and all that jazz. Another bonus, though I don’t think it has ever happened in the history of flight, if you are the best dressed folk and people need to be upgraded to fit everyone on the plane, you will be more likely than those dressed scruffily. However, children in tow make this scenario nigh on impossible.
There you have it, my tips and thoughts on getting through the airport with young children. I’d love to hear what you think of them and any tips you have. Even if you think they’re crazy.