2734754994_39486ba74dLast week my 13 year old son and I flew to Orlando for a vacation. Usually we travel as a family of five, but this time, it was just us. Flying has been a regular part of his life, and as we jumped through the various hoops to get to our gate, I asked him, “If I just dropped you off at the airport, would you know what to do?”

His answer was that he would know how to do everything if all went as planned, but if anything went wrong, he would freak out.

Pretty reasonable for a 13 year old boy.

We’ve had plenty of things go wrong at the airport over the years, and suddenly I felt kind of thankful for that.  As it turns out, they were learning experiences!

This trip turned out to be the perfect time for him to take the lead and get us from point A to point B.  He did know what he was doing, but I still insisted on giving him pointers.  I am the mother after all.

One thing I did NOT do is hand over any documents (itinerary, boarding passes, ID’s.)  He is a smart kid, but like me, he loses everything!  I’ve finally figured out how to NOT lose important things at important times, but sadly, he hasn’t.

He lost his ipod somewhere between security and the gate.  Sigh…

Looks like he’s going to have to learn the hard way, just like I did.

Four Essential Things to Teach Your Kids at the Airport

Check In:  Checking in for your flight can be done online within 24 hours of your flight on most airlines, or you can check in at the airport.  Understanding what luggage you are allowed to carry on and what needs to be checked is getting more important all the time, especially with the increasing fees.  Include the kids in packing, and show them what you’re doing at the check in counter.

Security Checkpoint:  It seems like the rules at the security checkpoint change every time I fly.  Between taking your shoes off and making sure you don’t have more than three ounces of liquid in a bottle; it’s easy for people to become frazzled.  The important thing to remember is just to remain calm, and follow the directions given to you by the TSA agents.  Some TSA agents can be so rude, and my blood pressure goes up every time it happens, but it’s not worth the hassle.

The important thing for kids to know is that it’s not okay for anyone to be abusive toward them; other than that, just ignore it and move on.

Find the Gate: As you’re rushing through the airport, take a couple of minutes to show your child the boarding pass, and where it shows your gate, flight number, and destination.   Point out the signs that guide you to the gate, and when you arrive at the gate, how to double check that you’re in the right place.

Board the flight: Passengers are called to board by rows.  Before you rush to the gate, consider the fact that you will be sitting on the plane longer if you are first to board.   Demonstrate how to stow your carryon bags and be sure to set a good example by listening to the safety information.

Happy Travels!