They can be some of the best times or the worst of times. Packing, planning, and getting there and back tend to be the hardest parts of the trip and can make or break a good time. Knowing what you need to do before you travel can take the frustration out of your vacation.
After 9-11, to improve security, several there have been many changes in airport and boarder security, some of which many of you may not know about. First, when traveling with your children, depending on the airline, you will need to have certain forms of ID a birth certificate and/or shot records. Photo IDs as seen from www.fingerprintamerica.com, www.mcgruff-tid.com, and www.kidsafeid.com may or may not be used as proper forms of identification for the child. To ensure what the airlines require, go to their websites (listed below) or call the airlines to ask that is the acceptable form of ID besides birth certificate or shot records. Finding this information out before heading to the airport can help you avoid the frustration of simply getting your vacation started.
And don’t assume since the information wasn’t requested on the way there, it won’t be on the way back. People are human and things are overlooked. Make sure you contact the airlines or visit their websites so you know exactly what you need and you’ll have time to obtain it without feeling pressured or stressed.
Single Parents and Travel
Because of the international child abduction laws, there are several steps a single parent must take to avoid travel complications.
If you are traveling internationally, federal law requires your child to have a passport and birth certificate as proper forms of ID. If you are a single parent, traveling with your child, a notarized letter from the other parent approving the travel is required. If you are a widow or widower, a death certificate of your spouse is required, along with the child’s ID before the child will be allowed to leave the country. Single parents who are the only parent listed on the birth certificate do not have to supply additional paperwork except for the child’s ID.
Children traveling with grandparents need a notarized letter from the parents, verifying they approve of the child traveling without them. Additionally, make sure you’ve signed a medical release in case the child will need to be treated for illness or injury if you are not there. Check out forms at http://www.agreementsetc.com/medical-consent/?gclid=CMO4rtbA2YwCFQ5HVAodXzXhLA to give you an idea of what a proper medical release should contain and how it should be worded.
At the airport:
To expedite your time in line at airport security, Andrea McCalley of the Transportation Security Administration www.tsa.gov) recommends these things:
(1) A child’s favorite toy or stuffed animal is essential when traveling, but explain to the child before getting to airport security their precious item does have to pass through the x-ray machine. Don’t wait until you get to the front of the line before explaining this and having to take it out of a screaming and scared child’s hands. Make it a game, allow the child to place the item in the bin themselves and give the toy a “pep” talk and a hug before the toy heads through the machine. Another idea is to tell the child to count how long it will be before he has his precious animal back. This not only helps keep the child distracted, but you get to practice counting!
(2) All passengers are now required to remove their shoes before going though airport security. Be sure to ask the child to remove his/her shoes before getting to the front of the line and to keep the child involved, have him/her place their shoes in the bin.
(3) Strollers have to go through the check point, take the child out of the stroller and have it folded and ready to go through. Don’t wait until you’re
at the machine to start unloading your child or packing up the stroller.
(4) The 3-1-1 rule applying to liquids (3 ounce bottle or less; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin) does not apply to breast milk and formula, within reasonable quantities, but they have to be declared at airport security. Breast pumps are allowed onboard. If you wish to avoid declaring breast milk, check the pump through then pump after you get through security. Most concession stands will be happy to give you a cup of ice to keep the breast milk cold. For more information on this 3-1-1 rule or to print it and take it with you when you travel, go to http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm or http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/formula.shtm.
(5) If you are overwhelmed with children and bags, ask for help from airport security. Don’t struggle, causing a back up. Simply ask for one of the personnel to assist you and they would be happy to do so. They are not there to make your life more complicated, they are there to make your vacation safer. Give them the benefit of the doubt and ask for a hand when you need one.
Restraints for the plane:
Safety is of the essence when traveling, so it isn’t unusual for parents to bring along car seats for their children to sit on during the flight. Make sure the car seat has this wording on the information label or sticker located on the seat:
This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft
If it does not have this, you may be required to check it in with your baggage. If the sticker or tag has been removed from the car seat, call the airlines prior to flying to verify your make and model are approved for airline use.
In August 2005, the FAA did report it would not mandate the use of car seats on airplanes because of the increased risk to the family. The FAA reported flying was a safer way to travel than driving and those families who were discouraged from flying because of car seat requirements, would be put at increased risk of injury. (http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?contentKey=1966 )
Since then, the FAA has broadened its restraint requirements. Devices that clip the lap child to the parent are now approved for use and can be found at websites such as One Step Ahead (http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?siteId=117&productId=323&cm_ven=Google&cm_cat=Top%2520Sellers&cm_pla=Top%2520Sellers&cm_ite=null)
In September 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported it allow an additional type of safety restraint for children to use instead of a car seat. This restraint can be used for forward facing children, weighing between 22 to 44 pounds. It is lighter and fits over the seat, attaching to the lap belt.
( http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/ )
Car rental companies have gotten smarter. Not only do they offer a wider assortment of vehicles, but many offer car seat rental. This can greatly reduce the amount of items you have to take with you on your trip. Most rent for less than $10/day and the price may be well worth not having to lug a bulky car seat around the airport. Plus, if your luggage gets separated from you, there won’t be a concern about the safety of the child traveling because the car seat will be available from the car rental company.
Modern technology has taken some of the fun out of traveling by car. DVD players, Video games, separate music plug-ins—what’s the fun of traveling together if none of you are talking to each other?
I will always miss traveling with my parents and brothers because of the silliness that ensued. Fun games (count the cows) or silly, made up songs (too many to write here), or simply just talking to each made for an always memorable trip.
But if you need a break from talking and games, try to surprise the little ones with a new movie or video game, music or book. One mother gave her kids a new coloring book, hand held puzzle or game every half hour until they reached their destination. She said the trip couldn’t have gone smoother.
When traveling by car, be sure to pack plenty of fun and healthy snacks like apple slices, Fiber One bars (in chocolate and peanut butter), bottled water, and crackers. Treat to occasional sweets, but don’t go all out just because it’s vacation. You might be dealing with upset tummies later and that’s no fun to think about when trapped in a car.
Hopefully, these tips will help make your vacation frustration diminish to zero and give you plenty of time to enjoy what you’ve been planning—making memories that will last a lifetime.
Patricia Walters-Fischer RN
For additional information on airlines, TSA and FAA regulations, visit the websites below:
Transportation Security Administration:
Southwest Policies on traveling with infants and children and while pregnant:
American Airline’s Policies on traveling with infants and children and while pregnant:
Continental’s Policies on traveling with infants and children and while pregnant: