Traveling can be stressful for some people. We often say that traveling isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, as the actual act of traveling to a new place can often be very tiring. Having a baby only makes this process even more demanding! While it is totally worth it and the trip you will go on with your baby will be well worth the effort, there undoubtedly a few stressors that come with going through an airport, with or without a baby.
With that being said, traveling with your baby doesn’t need to be a stressful experience at all; by taking a few steps, you can make the process of getting through the airport quick, easy, and stress-free. Here are our top 5 unique tips for going through airport security with a baby.
5. Bring Your Baby’s Liquids in Your Carry-on
We all know about the 3-1-1 rule, which only lets you have liquids in your carry on if they are less than 3.4 ounces in volume. TSA is a little kinder to babies than they are to adults, though! If you are bringing one of a baby’s 3 main consumable liquids – cow’s milk, breast milk, and juice – pack it accessibly in your carry on and feel free to bring it through security.
The TSA will not confiscate any of these liquids if they are for your baby, as long as you can pull them out of your bag easily when it’s your turn to get screened. This rule also extends to formula, as other powders are typically not accepted. While you can’t bring water through, you can always bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at one of the airport’s water fountains. Bringing these liquids along is much easier (and cheaper) than looking for milk or juice in one of the airport stores, and you will be able to feed your baby immediately after you get through security.
4. Bring a Stroller With a Bit of Storage Capacity
This one took a while for me to realize, as we try to travel as lightly as possible. To me, bringing a stroller sounded like an unnecessary extra thing to take all the way through the airport. Wouldn’t this just be easier to check at the counter? After a few flights, we quickly realized that having the stroller is one of the single best moves you can make when traveling through an airport with a baby. In fact, I’m not talking about just any stroller; I’m talking about your big, carseat compatible monster, if you have one. Here is why:
If your baby is still in a carseat/carrier, you’d need to carry either the baby or the baby AND the carseat through the whole airport. No thanks. Having your stroller means that you get to leisurely push your baby, putting a lot less strain on your back, sides, arms, and shoulders.
On top of that, having a big stroller with you allows you to use it as a cargo carrier of sorts, stashing your backpacks, diaper bag, or carry on items into the bottom part of the stroller. Now not only do you not have to carry your baby, but you also don’t have to carry your diaper bag, backpack, or carry on. This makes things especially easy if you are very early for your flight and planned on sitting somewhere or grabbing a meal, as you don’t have 30 things to be juggling! When you get to the gate, just about every airline will gate check your stroller (and carseat) for free and have it waiting waiting for you when you land in your destination. Even most budget airlines, including Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and Southwest do this.
3. Remove the Necessary Items Ahead of Time
We say all the time that traveling with a baby isn’t stressful if you are ready for it. This is one of the prime examples of something you can do to relieve the stress before it ever even occurs! I think one of the most potentially stressful moments of traveling with an infant can be the moment when you arrive at the TSA conveyor belt and realize you need to remove your shoes, belt, electronics, baby supplies, liquids, jewelry, etc. and empty your pockets. All of that with an angry person behind you who feels like they are in just as much of a hurry!
There is a really easy workaround to feeling rushed when you get to security, and that is to prep for the conveyor belt before you get there. I just mentioned that bringing a stroller with a bit of storage space is a good idea, and it can come especially in handy here too.
This way when you show up at the conveyor belt, all you need to do is put carry on bags directly on the conveyor belt, place your pile of already-removed things on the conveyor belt, hand over your stroller to be checked, and walk right through the screening machine. It couldn’t get any easier, and it takes less than 10 seconds. If you decide not to bring a stroller with you through security, think about bringing a shopping bag of some sort that can be easily tucked away in a backpack once you get through security but can hold all of your things in the meantime.
2. Get to the Airport Extra Early to Allow for Hiccups
I have mentioned this tip in so many other blog posts, but it is true in just about every scenario! Being early usually makes life so much easier. Traveling with a baby doesn’t need to be difficult, but getting rid of all potential stressors is the best way to make it feel as easy as possible. The biggest stressor in an airport is usually time, as things tend to move slowly and airplanes do not wait for late passengers.
Going through the checked bag line usually takes less than 10 minutes. However, it can take an hour because of some dumb luck. Going through security normally takes less than 15 minutes, but it can take 45 on a bad day at a busy time! Amid all of this, what happens if your little 3-month old gets hungry sometime before security and won’t stop wailing until you sit down and feed them for 30 minutes?
Getting to the airport early – like up to 3 hours early for domestic flights and 3.5 hours early for international flights – alleviates so much of this pressure. Baby is screaming for milk somewhere between the baggage counter and security line? Go ahead and take the time to feed them! All 300 passengers from your flight want to check a bag at the same time? No big deal. You’ll have plenty of time. Unless you’re flying out of a smaller regional airport, you will have plenty of ways to pass the time if things go easily and you get through security with 2.5 hours to spare. Better late than early, right?
1. Enroll in TSA Pre-Check
Far and wide the best thing that you can do to make going through airport security with a baby easier is enroll in TSA Pre-Check. This program enables travelers to basically jump the line and go through their own expedited security line. TSA Pre-Check allows travelers to pass through security without removing some of the annoying items, like belts, shoes, light jackets, electronics, etc. All of those things can stay either on your body or in your carryon or backpack.
I love TSA Pre-Check and think it is worth it for everyone who travels at least a couple of times per year, with or without a baby. However, when we had our first baby and started traveling with him, TSA Pre-Check made things so much easier. As we tend to travel with a lot of equipment for work, TSA Pre-Check allows us to leave everything in our backpacks and place them right on the conveyor belt. We also have all of our son’s things packed in the diaper bag, so that all we need to do for him is place the diaper bag and carseat directly on the conveyor belt. 4 items on the conveyor belt, one carseat handed to TSA, and three people walking straight through the screening machine with our shoes and belts on. It doesn’t get much swifter than that!
Simplifying the rules about what you need to remove makes the screening go faster, which makes the line move even more quickly. In a given year, normally 99%+ of passengers using TSA Pre-Check get through security in less than 5 minutes from the moment they scan your boarding pass and ID. That includes people with babies, if they know what they are doing! TSA Pre-Check costs $85 per person and lasts for 5 years. Be sure to apply well in advance of your trip, as the process can sometimes take a little while.
Thanks for reading my post with 5 unique tips about traveling through airport security with a baby. Hopefully these tips help to remove some stress from your flight with your baby. If you liked this post, you’ll probably enjoy my post on the 5 things NOT to pack when flying somewhere with your baby.