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TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS

Keep in mind your child's "best" and "worst" times of day when planning your departure. A flight at six thirty in the morning may work well for you, but not so well for kids who tend to be cranky that early. Likewise, a late-night flight may find your kids either sleeping peacefully or wide awake.

When you're carrying luggage through crowded airports, make sure you have at least one free hand to hold onto a small child. If you're a parent, bring bags with shoulder straps and pack a backpack for your child.

Note: Photo ID is required for all passengers age 18 and older. Children under age 18 are not required to have a photo ID.

What to bring

  • a backpack for every child old enough to carry one, packed with their favorite toys. Leave at home any toys with small parts, any toys that resemble weapons, or any toy that makes loud noises. Battery-operated DVD, CD, and game players with headphones are allowed on aircraft.
  • plenty of snacks and juiceboxes (3 oz. or less), however, avoid snacks that melt, crumble, stick, stain, or are spillable.
  • pre-moistened towelettes; lots of resealable plastic bags (for wet diapers and miscellaneous messy things); an extra t-shirt in case of spills on the plane.

Don't forget your child's safety when flying. The FAA recommends that a child weighing:

  • under 20 pounds be placed in a rear-facing child restraint system.
  • from 20 to 40 pounds use a forward-facing child restraint. Although the safety technology of forward-facing child restraint systems in aircraft is still developing, current restraints offer dramatic improvements in protection compared to lap-held or unrestrained children.
  • over 40 pounds may safely use an aircraft seat belt.

For complete information and guidelines on the use of a child restraint system (CRS), please visit the FAA's website.

Tips for Traveling with Babies
When scheduling a day's activities with an infant, try to stick to your baby's normal schedule for naps, feedings, and alert times. And if you're flying cross-country, keep in mind the time difference.

As a precaution against ear problems during take-off, time your infant's feeding with boarding the airplane. If your baby won't nurse or take a bottle, it might be a good idea to have a pacifier on hand.

When landing, begin to feed your baby liquid when you see the flight attendants checking passengers' seat belts in preparation for landing. The swallowing will help to equalize the pressure in the ears during descent.

What to bring

  • two or three changes of clothes for baby and one for yourself (the worst can happen). Plan ahead for changing weather conditions at your destination.
  • ready-made formula or powdered formula and bottled water for bottle-feeding babies.
  • three more diapers than you think you'll need. And resealable plastic bags for dirty diapers.
  • baby-wipes to clean up messes.
  • if your baby is teething, bring teething rings, teething gel, or a pain medication approved by your pediatrician.

Flying While Pregnant
Each airline has its own guidelines about flying while pregnant. You should always contact your airline before purchasing your tickets to determine what its rules are for flying during your pregnancy. In general, it is recommended that you work with your doctor to determine whether or not it is safe for you to fly during your pregnancy. If he/she feels that it is safe for you to fly, request a letter stating this to show to the airline.

Remember, drugs normally taken for motion sickness may not be appropriate for a pregnant woman to take. NEVER take any medication while you are pregnant without consulting your doctor first!

You may want to bring some clear pop or ginger ale and bland crackers with you to help ward off nausea during the flight.

Children Flying Solo
Flying on his or her own can be an exciting experience for a child--and a nerve-wracking one for a parent. Here are some tips to help ease your anxiety.

  • Before the flight, talk to your child about what to expect of their travels. Review commonsense rules about not talking to strangers, but remind your child that if they need help to ask someone in a uniform, such as a police officer or flight attendant.
  • Arrive at the airport early so that you'll have time to fill out the necessary paperwork before your child departs. The airline will ask you to supply some important information, including your contact information and the name of the individual who will be picking up your child at the final destination.
  • Make sure your child knows to stay on board the plane after the flight until a flight attendant takes him or her to the customer service representative. This person will then see that your child is released to the individual that you have indicated. Be sure to let the individual picking up your child know that they must present a photo ID to airport personnel before leaving with the child--even if it is obvious that it is someone the child recognizes.

It's natural for you to worry about your child traveling alone. Just remember that your child is never really alone; the airline will assign someone to watch over him or her. Also, remember that airline rules vary, but age restrictions often apply to small children. Here are some general guidelines:

Children ages 1-4 may fly only when accompanied by a caretaker who is at least 12 years old. A child must be at least 5 years old to fly alone.

Children 5-8 years old may take a direct flight to a single destination but not connecting flights.

Children over 8 may take connecting flights. If they're 8 to 11, they will be escorted by airline personnel to their connecting flight. A significant extra service charge for this is likely. Older kids -- ages 12 through 15 -- may request assistance, but are not required to do so. Please note that these are general guidelines. Some airlines may have more strict requirements. You should contact your specific airline if you have any questions.

Anyone under age 17 who is flying alone on an international flight must have a signed note from a parent or responsible adult giving permission, destination, and length of stay.

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