Traveling with Kids? Use Our Checklist!

If you're traveling with kids, you know planning ahead is key. Here's a checklist -- adapted from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Web site -- to help you make the journey with minimal hassle.

Before the Trip

  • Double-check the flight schedule. Check with the airline 24 hours in advance to make sure your departure and return times haven't changed. Sign up online for e-mail, PDA, and cell phone alerts in case there is a last-minute change.
  • Print your boarding passes at home. Airlines offer this time-saving feature on their Web sites -- and it means you won't have to occupy the kids while everyone snakes back and forth in line to check in at the airport. If you're not together enough to print passes out in advance, use the e-check in kiosks when you arrive -- not as fast as having boarding passes in hand, but still better than the line.
  • Explain the security obstacle course to kids. If your kids will be flying for the first time, tell them in advance what to expect during the security screening process. "You'll have to let go of your dolly while we go through security, but you'll get it right back." If your child is older, remind him that "My dad has a bomb" jokes are unacceptable.
  • Skip the car seat if you can. Unless you'll be using it on the plane, opt to rent a car seat with your car rental -- or borrow one from relatives to use when you arrive.
  • Know what you can carry -- and juggle. You may find yourself alone with the kids and mountains of bags more than once in the airport, while Dad's parking the car, on the way to the restrooms, etc. Think realistically about what you can manage on your own while watching and maneuvering the kids.

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