Shuffled Mind Logo in Black

Navigating Airports With Kids Like A Pro

Navigating Airports With Kids

Airports are usually fun to navigate, but when traveling with kids below thirteen, it could be tricky.

They will be reluctant to walk when you need them to move really fast for you have a flight to catch on time.

But hah! Who cares about time? Reading that commercial on that giant bright board is much more important, Dad!

Well, we all have been there.

To make lives easier for us adults and, of course, those bizarre tiny minds navigating airports with kids shall be made like a cakewalk for you both in this blog.

Pre-flight preparations: Before Navigating airports with Kids

There’s something you should always keep in mind; It’s better to be early than be sorry. Your journey should be filled with fun and not boredom or anxiety.

There are certain things that you should do before you chalk out anything.

Organizing essential documents

Essential Documents

You should keep all your and your kids’ necessary documents ready before your date arrives. They should be divided into clear document folders, which you can quickly grab from a dollar store or Walmart.

You should label each folder with the names of your family members.

If you are carrying the passports or IDs along with your boarding pass, you should put them all in a single clear plastic document file folder.

This way, nothing shall get messed up, and always keep this folder handy and in one particular bag.

Once the officers return your documents, always put them inside the bag and move on to the next part of your journey.

These are the list of documents that you will need to carry for your kids at the airport.

  1. Passport: A valid passport is a must for international travel. Regardless of age, each child needs a passport for international flights.

  2. Visa: If you are traveling to a country requiring a visa, ensure your child has the appropriate visa in their passport before departure.

  3. Birth Certificate: Some countries may require proof of the child’s age and parentage, especially if the child is not listed in the parent’s passport.

  4. Consent Letter: If a child travels with only one parent or with someone other than their legal guardian, a consent letter from the parent who is absent or a legal guardian may be necessary. This letter should include details about the travel, such as dates, destination, and contact information for the absent parent or guardian.

  5. ID with Child’s Photo: Some airlines or airports may require identification with a photograph for children, especially if they are above a certain age (usually around 12).

  6. Any Required Travel Permits: Depending on your destination and specific circumstances, additional travel permits or documentation may be required for kids.


If you are traveling with a toddler or a young kid, make them learn by heart your name, phone number, and address. Also, prepare a fun I-card for them with every detail they need to reach you.

Packing smart and light

Packing Smart And Light

Try carrying as little as possible. With kids maneuvering a big airport from one gate to another in a very short transit time can be very challenging.

To keep things light, carry fewer carry-ons when possible. If possible carry less number of large suitcases too.

With strollers, car seats, carry-ons, and big trolleys, it becomes pretty impossible to move an inch without the fear of losing your child in the airport!

Planning Your Airport Arrival And Departure Time

Airport Arrival and Departure Time

When you have kids with you who can walk, you better plan your time ahead of your date of journey. Navigating airports with kids who can walk can be tricky.

They wouldn’t naturally be able to keep up with you if you reach late. Then you might have to carry them along with all your carry-ons.

At that moment, it will seem a mammoth task. Plus, all the anxiety and drama.

Reach the airport early to have enough time to pass that serpentine line in front of TSA. Even if some airports have a family-dedicated checking counter, it’s worth reaching early.

You never know when a bathroom break will pop up and when those tiny legs suddenly stop feeling the need to walk along.

So, reach the airport early. At least three hours before. Cross that TSA check. Navigate towards your gate like a pro captain with a coffee in your hand. You’ll need that.


If you have a long-haul flight, book an overnight one. If you have a short flight, book an early one.

Smooth Check-in Strategies

Check-ins can be a bit rough around the edges. To ensure a smooth check-in, here are some unmissable tips.

Online Check-In Benefits And Tips

Online Check-In

Most airlines let you choose your seat for free through online check-in, which opens 48-24 hours before check-in.

The queues at the check-in counters are the first hurdle that you’ll have to overcome. If you’ve checked online and your baggage weighs within the limit, you’ll feel like a boss when you’re done checking in your luggage.

If you’re a carry-on-only family with that online boarding pass, waltz ahead to the TSA checkpoint.

Global Entry And TSA PreCheck® For Faster Navigation With Kids

Global TSA PreCheck

You can apply for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck® for an expedited process if you’re a resident, national, or citizen of The USA.

For TSA PreCheck®, you will have to apply for it online. After a background check, you’ll no longer need to remove your shoes, belts, light jackets, 3-1-1 liquids, and laptops if they approve you.

They even allow your 17-year-old kids if you have approval. It shall take you less than 5 minutes to go through a TSA checkpoint.

They charge you $78 for five years. But yes, you’ll have to go through all the check-in points physically. The only perk is that it shall take you less time.

For Global Entry, too, the tenure is for five years, but the fees are $100. It already includes TSA PreCheck®.

The Global Entry program ensures that your entry to the USA is expedited and smooth. You might not have to wait in meandering queues to get cleared for your entry. Designated kiosks can check you in faster.

But you’ll have to get prior approval, which may take some time. You can check here for all the available programs US Homeland Security offers.

You can avail it, but it’s not mandatory.

The liquids and food

Liquids And Food

When you plan to carry liquids and food on a flight, pack them so that you can take them out right away at the TSA checkpoint without having to fish them out of your carry-on.

From breastmilk for an infant or water or juices for toddlers up to 2 years old to snacks for young kids and purees for babies, everything food and liquid must be kept in one bag, which you can take out immediately when asked for an inspection.

It’s best to carry them in a large ziplock bag.

They will allow you everything unless it doesn’t fit into TSA’s definition of permitted food items.

Even for the freezer packs, always remember to freeze them before you take otherwise, they won’t be approved.

You do not need to worry if you carry legitimate food items. They will let you bring it on board. Just be confident when asked any question about the food.

I have often been asked what I was carrying, who made it, or how fresh it was. They never said no to any food I brought outside or into the USA.

Kid-Friendly Airport Lounges And Facilities

Kids Friendly Airport Lounges

When traveling with kids aged 1-10 years, always search for kid-friendly lounges and play areas before going to the airports.

While you wait for your connecting flight, your kid might want to play around. Also, you’d love the idea of your kid losing all the energy before boarding and sleeping for a long time on a flight while you sip on your favorite beverage.

Some airports have kid-friendly lounges. You can avail of the lounges 3 hours before your flight with free passes or by shelling out a few extra bucks. You can safely sit and relax with your kid without the fear of them wandering off.

The food and drinks might tantalize those li’l taste buds, and the cute hungrysaurus might not need many snacks.

If you choose not to avail lounge, it’s okay.

Just get to know where the washrooms and nursing rooms are so that you are not very far from them whenever you need them.

Entertainment On The Go

Entertainment on the Go

A long transit time is boring for the kids, especially if there is no play area and no siblings or cousins around.

Either they will nag you for endless snacks, or they will want screen time!

Screen time is something I wouldn’t recommend. The longer the screen time lesser the opportunity to explore. Prepare a list of activities that your kid would love to do.

Here’s a list of what you can do instead.

  • Draw or download an airport map and ask them to find certain things. Where did they find the TSA checkpoint, or where was the coffee shop that they brought muffins from?

  • If they already know how to read, ask them to assist you to the gate you are supposed to go for your next flight.

  • Talk to them about the planes and the crew. You can sit before the huge glass panel to show them take off and touch down.

  • Prepare a few sheets of activity consisting of the journey map, airport map, or an inside of the plane. It could be a maze or a coloring sheet.

  • Bring their “cuddle buddy” to comfort them.

  • Plan for a surprise toy.

  • Please include them in your journey plans. Let them take the lead whenever risks are less, and it’s possible. Always remember the more the engagements, the lesser the tantrums and screen time.

  • You can make up fun situations about the airport or plane and ask your kids to role-play.

  • Download Apps on your devices if you haven’t enough energy left to deal further.

You’ll need lots of coffee or energy bars and a pillar of patience for a long transit time.

If you’re wondering now how you will entertain them in flight, don’t worry; we have a list for that, too.

If you have a shorter transit time and must run to catch your next flight, prepare your kid beforehand.

Remind them when the touchdown is an hour away or less. Remind them again when your flight has landed. Try to make them understand how important it is to catch the next flight and what fun lies on the other side of that flight.

Usually, they’ll try to keep up with your pace once they understand.

My 5-year-old ran along with me for more than a mile without stopping when we ran out of time due to a delayed flight to catch the next flight to my hometown.

Snacks And Meals

Snacks and Meals

I have always tried to carry snacks my kid loves whenever I travel. TSA allows a lot of kid-friendly snacks.

So carry whatever you want to unless it’s something liquid. Just remember that too much sugar intake can agitate kids. So bring less sugary foods.

Plan ahead what meals you will carry for your infant, toddler, or young kid. Pack something that’s not sticky or soupy. The lesser the mess, the better.

If you have a picky eater, check this helpful blog out!

I had opted for Quaker Chewy bars and dark chocolates for my 5-year-old.

Check out what kind of eateries are inside the airport from the website. If you have a Gordon Ramsay or Julia Child junior, you’ll have to research before reaching the airport.

My kid usually keeps asking for snacks in flight, or in transit, and unless she is famished, she will not ask for a meal.

I let her play and tire her out, and after that, she’ll usually have a meal that does not consist of bread, which is very hard to find in an airport.

So I opt for pasta or wraps, which she gobbles up until full.


I would recommend you carry fewer food items in your bag because more food items means more time taken at the security checkpoint.

Safety And Security Precautions

Kids Safety and Security

When traveling with your young kid or toddler who can speak clearly, it is always wise to make them memorize your name, phone number, and address—at least the country and its state or province.

Also, please give them an inner pocket with their homemade ID card. I always write my phone number on the inner side of my kid’s dress or t-shirt and tell them to show it to the cops or anyone willing to help.

I have imprinted my kid with the idea that cops are friendly people always willing to help, specifically if she is lost, so she is not overwhelmed by the cops.

Your child has to walk through the security gate if they can walk. But don’t worry; they will not be removed away from you. At the most, you can be asked to accompany your child to a separate area if further inspection is needed.

Do not scare your child about anything or anyone in the airport, especially the officials who can be helpful when in need.

Teach your kids about airport etiquette much before you travel. Play fun games so that they get used to it.

Be confident and make your kids confident about traveling.

Make memories while navigating airports with kids safely

Make Memories

The aim of any travel with family is to have fun and enjoy your journey. Keeping a few things in mind, I guess any travel can be made delightful with kids.

Kids love having fun, and so do you. You travel to make memories and cherish them forever.

There’s nothing to panic if anything small goes wrong; take a deep breath, clean the mess up if possible, and move on!

Make your journeys precious by clicking fun pictures at the airport, doing fun things together, eating otherwise restricted fun food, and chatting a lot with all the members!


Have a happy and safe flight, friends! See you again.

Welcome To ShuffledMind

Sayani Routh At West Rocky Mountain

I’m absolutely thrilled to embark on this blogging journey and connect with all of you. Hi, I’m Sayani, the voice behind the words you’ll find here. Through my experiences as a human being and a mom living in India, Canada, and the USA, I’ve cultivated a unique perspective that I’m excited to share with you.

Love, Sayani


Sayani Routh
Sayani Routh
A Mom, passionate reader & writer, child advocate: I share my parenting journey, inspired by my real-life experiences.


4 1 vote
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments