When you have kids, many things change in your life. One of those things is the ability to travel with ease and on a whim. Where it was once possible to hop a last-minute flight with your friends to rejoice in Las Vegas, having kids means that a lot more planning and effort needs to go into your trips.
That’s not to say that you can’t go to Las Vegas, or any other destination for that matter. However, many new parents aren’t aware of what is and isn’t allowed when making travel planes by plane. Not knowing and the stress of planning and packing with babies and small children can be overwhelming, so we’ve detailed some things here that will help you make your domestic as well as international travels a little less harried.
The Transportation Security Administration (better known as the TSA) states that children under the age of 18 do not need a photo ID when they are traveling domestically. However, different airlines will have different requirements so it’s best to check their requirements on the website prior to booking your flights. You may be required to present a birth certificate to verify the age of your child. Only babies under two years of age are allowed to sit in an adult’s lap rather than having their own seat. Also, tickets for children and babies are much cheaper than the ones for adults. One of the best things you can do to be completely sure is get a photo ID card made. This will prevent any delays or problems.
When traveling internationally, you need to have a valid passport even for newborn babies. So if you’re planning on traveling abroad when you are pregnant and you think the baby may be born by that date, you’ll need to apply for a passport prior to your child being born. Passports can take a couple months to get back so it’s important to think of these things well before you plan to travel.
If your child is traveling with only one parent or a non-guardian, they may be required to have a notarized minor travel consent form signed by the non-traveling parent. If one parent is deceased, it is a good idea to have a copy of the death certificate. If the second parent’s whereabouts are unknown, an affidavit to this effect should be carried. I know of one single parent who conceived through artificial insemination and always carried a document stating that she was the sole legal parent.
Visas and other international traveling tips
For trips abroad, you’ll also need to plan on visas for everyone in your party. Some countries require visas from American travelers while others do not. If you’re going to multiple countries, it might be a good idea to use a travel agent because they can help you get the visas you need for everyone in the family well before your trip is scheduled. Some countries also require different documents for entry and exit. You can look all these things up with the State Department website to be sure you have everything you need before you head to the airport.
Make sure it matches up
When you are ready to book the tickets, make sure the names of everyone traveling with you are listed correctly on the tickets. They should read the same as they do on passports and official documentations. If not, you could face difficulties at the gate or in customs.
Formula, juice, and breast milk are all ok by TSA
However you’re feeding your baby or toddler, you are allowed to bring formula, juice and breast milk onto the plane with you. You must bring them in what is considered as reasonable quantities for the flight. You can bring these items in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in your carry-on bags, however you must remove them to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. Tell a TSA officer when you arrive at the security checkpoint that you are carrying these items. They will be subjected to inspection through x-ray which will not cause any harm to your child.
Additionally, the things you need to keep those liquids cool like ice packs, frozen gel packages, and freezer packs may be subject to screening if they are slightly slushy. For breastfeeding moms traveling away from baby, you are allowed to transport breast milk without your baby present.
You don’t have to buy a seat for babies, but…
You are legally allowed to hold a baby under the age of 2 on your lap during your flights, however it is advised that you pay for a seat and bring along your child’s car seat for the safest method of travel. If you’re planning on holding your baby, you will still need to notify the airline that you are traveling with an infant.
Strollers and child seats don’t count as baggage
One last thing that should make your travels easier is knowing that your child safety seat doesn’t count as carry-on luggage. Your stroller won’t count as checked baggage either, so check it at the curb and pick it up with your suitcase later. However, some destinations, particularly those abroad, may not be conducive for strollers. China comes to mind. It’s much easier to carry your child in a wearable device in places like that.
The bottom line is this: most domestic travel with babies and small children is relatively easy and convenient. When it comes to traveling abroad, you’ll need to do some more research to ensure you’ve got all the documents you need and that you prepare for a your travels accordingly. Travel agents can make this all very simple for you and help you fulfill your requirements long before you arrive at the gate so it might be worth the additional nominal fee to employ one to look out for you and your family.