Guida Botelho, Training Manager at Atlas Travel International, recently traveled on her first family vacation with her husband and 18-month-old daughter. While Guida is an experienced traveler – to say the least – this trip marked a turning point in her travel planning. In this post, Guida brings us through the preparations and planning she had to do in order to accommodate her little jetsetter.
Last week, my husband, 18-month-old daughter and I traveled to Dominican Republic on our first family vacation. We had a great time. Having been a corporate traveler for a few years, I never gave flying and being at airports a second thought. However, now traveling with an 18-month-old gave me some pause and lots of questions. Do I have to take her shoes off at the security checkpoint? Do I walk through the metal detectors with her or does she have to do it herself? Can I bring snacks like a fruit-filled cereal bar in my carry-on? What do I need to bring on the plane to entertain her? What happens if I have to change my daughter in the plane? Yup, my brain was going.
The first thing I did to prepare was to visit the TSA website and review the rules for traveling with children. This gave me great information so that I could prep. Here are the answers to all my crazy questions.
We left on March 17 out of BOS at 6:30am. I made sure that we had ample time so we arrived at 4:15am at the airport. Yeah, fun! Going through security was easy. My daughter was able to keep her shoes on; she just had to take off her jacket. I made sure that I had no liquids or gels of any sort with me. In my diaper bag, I had her empty milk bottle, and I decided that a “fruit-filled” cereal bar could be considered a “paste/liquid” of some sort, so I opted to bring cereal snacks and fruit snacks. I bought milk once we went through security. If I had formula, I would have just purchased water after security.
I was able to walk through the metal detectors with my daughter. I also made sure that I wore shoes that were easy to put on and off, there were no belts on my husband or myself, our cell phones were in the diaper bag, and we had a carry-on with toys. We also had a quick fold-down stroller. This made it easy to put things on the belt and make it through really quickly.
For her first flight, my daughter was super! She fell asleep from the minute the plane took off in Boston and woke up a half hour before we got to Miami. During that time we had some videos for her to watch, paper and crayons, books, snacks, and a few new toys. She also took a few strolls up and down the aisle. During the decent to Miami, we gave her a lollipop and she never complained about her ears. The flight from Miami to Puerto Plata was just as good.
On the way back on March 24 from Puerto Plata, security asked to take off her shoes and at first didn’t want me to walk with her through the metal detectors. But when she stood there and wasn’t going, they said, “Okay, you can hold her and walk through.” I once again did everything I had done on the way down from Boston. No liquids or gels or any sort in my diaper bag or carry-on.
She was a really good baby on the flight and slept all the way—it helped that it was during her naptime! We had a really long layover in Miami. I was a little concerned to go through all the immigration checkpoints and customs, but it was uneventful. It’s a little hard, because everyone is tired and you are standing in lines, but from the plane through immigration, getting your luggage, going through customs and going through security again it took one hour and 20 minutes. The security in Miami was easy, as well. They told us to go through the handicapped lane because they noticed we had a baby and might need more time. She was able to keep her shoes ON. I made sure I emptied her bottle before going through security and refilled it later. This time, they had the Advance Technology Machine (ATI) and I really did not want to go through it with her on that. So, I mentioned it to the TSA officer, asking if my husband or I could just take her through the regular metal detectors, and they said absolutely. Everyone was super-helpful.
All in all, I did not have to worry. Yet, I was glad that I prepped ahead of time to make my trip through airport security easy. Make sure that you have no liquid or gels and keep your carry-ons clear for a quick trip through those lines!