6 tips for traveling with children during the holidays

November 18, 2019
Mom and daughter at the airport
Getty Images

The holiday season is upon us, which means you will likely be traveling with your children. Doing just about anything with young children and babies can make simple tasks much more challenging, especially while traveling. However, traveling with little ones can be a great experience with a little bit of preparation. Here are some commonly asked questions to review before you hop on the plane this season:

What travel documents do I need?

It’s important for parents to keep proof of relationship to their child. The accepted documents include a birth certificate, adoption decree or court order/custody agreement. If parents are divorced or separated, they’re encouraged to carry guardianship forms.

Remember, domestic (in the U.S.) and international travel requirements are different. In most cases, domestic travel doesn’t require children under 18 to provide identification. For international travel, all parties must possess a valid passport and/or visa, no matter the age. Be sure to check your airline’s requirements for identification when traveling with minors prior to arriving at the airport.

Which vaccinations does my child need?

Vaccinations are always important to discuss, especially when it comes to traveling internationally. In addition to routine shots, some should be given at least a month prior to travel. It’s imperative to check out these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a few months before you leave in case you need to schedule a visit with your pediatrician.

Can I check a stroller or car seat?

Yes. Checking a stroller and/or car seat is available at the gate for most airlines, making the trek through the airport much less of a hassle. Be prepared to put your stroller and carrier through the X-ray machine; it’s a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirement.

Is breast milk allowed as a carry-on?

If you’re preparing to travel with infants requiring breast milk, rest assured you can bring your supplies with you. According to TSA, you can put formula, breast milk and juice in your carry-on bag in reasonable quantities greater than the standard 3.4 ounces. This remains true even if you’re not traveling with your child. Like other liquids, these items will need to be removed during the screening process and screened separately.

Occasionally, officers might need to test small samples of your liquids. Be sure to leave some time in your schedule for potential delays. Ice packs and similar cooling accessories for breast milk are also allowed in your carry-on bag.

What snacks should I bring?

This is another important aspect of traveling with kids. If you’re looking for some plane-ready options, try some of the following: dried fruits, nuts granola bars, cereals, crackers, pretzels and cookies. Liquid or cream-based snacks will be limited to travel-sized containers. A good strategy for extra drink options: carry an empty sippy cup with powdered drink mixes and simply add water once you get through security.

Should I put my lap child in a seat belt?

If your child is younger than 2, they won’t need a plane ticket and can travel in your lap once aboard. However, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the safest place for a young child on a plane is in an approved child safety restraints system (CRS) to account for unexpected turbulence. These hard-back safety seats are approved for use in both cars and airplanes.

The only way to guarantee your child a CRS for your flight is to purchase a seat, which are commonly sold for a discount at some airports. For tips on using these devices, click here. You can also ask the flight staff to use extra empty seats if available.

While traveling, try to stick to your home routine. Have snacks handy and find ways to keep your kids engaged. Try to plan feeding times during takeoff and landing to help with shifting ear pressure. Check your specific airline’s policies on traveling with a child. Travel insurance should also be considered when booking flights. The more you know, the better prepared you will be!

To find your nearest Texas Children’s Pediatrics location, click here. For MyChart, click here

[watch:] Travel Tips: Security Screening for Infant-Care Items (YouTube)


[read:] Flying with Children (FAA)
[read:] Need travel vaccines? Plan ahead. (CDC)
[read:] 6 Tips for Traveling With Baby (The Bump)
[read:] Flying with a Baby – Know Before You Go (What To Expect)
[read:] Air travel tips for new parents (Cheapflights)
[read:] The New Mom’s Guide to Traveling with Baby (0-6 months): How to take a day trip, road trip or round trip with confidence (TODAY Parenting Team)
[read:] Everything You Need to Know About Flying with a Baby and Young Kids (Condé Nast Traveler)

Post by:

Simone’ Hopes, MSHS, PA-C

Clinical Interests:

Simone's interests include properly educating the patient and families to be fully aware of surgical procedures and the postoperative course. She is very passionate about first assisting in the operating room and emergency room procedures.