"No, we can't have a snack yet."
"Please don't run through the security line."
"You don't have to take your shoes off anymore."
I can sense those travelers who fear my active 3-year-old as we head toward the airport security line.
You have nothing to fear. As we approach the X-ray machines, my child and I go into guerrilla traveling mode. I've packed almost everything we need into my hiking backpack, the contents of which I lay out on the conveyer belt: the computer with Sesame Street episodes, a snack bag including two 8-ounce milk boxes (I alert security officials to the milk, which doesn't violate the 3-ounce liquid rule because it's for a small child) and jackets, belts and shoes.
I carry her through the security screening machine -- she cries when I try to get her to walk -- and we wait for our things to clear security. A security official waves a magic wand over the milk. We get dressed, pack, buy expensive water and get to our gate on time.
You, too, can survive your flight and earn brownie points from childless travelers. As families head to the airport for holiday travel, here are a few of my family's travel-tested suggestions to have a better trip.
Pack patience for air travel amateurs
Don't be that parent
Please decide now that you will not be that overindulgent, coddling parent who thinks her child is more important than everyone else on the flight. It's not true. Please don't act like it by changing a diaper on the tray table (it's happened) or handing squeezable yogurt to a child who will squirt it at his neighbor.
Decide you won't ignore your child, either. Your pre-children travels with a Starbucks candy coffee and a crisp new magazine are over. You do not get to read a book or have a glass of wine while your child runs into the drink cart. Your goal is to get your family safely from Point A to Point B with the least amount of disruption to other passengers.
Start preparing now
A week before our departure, I make packing lists for my child and for me split into carry-on and checked baggage. (I check as much as I can.) Then I see if I can actually carry it all because I know I'll be carrying everything that isn't checked at some point. See my printable packing list
Everything on the carry-on list must be useful for the flight -- snacks, diapers, entertainment, change of clothes and vomit bag -- or hard to replace like my driver's license. I assume a huge flight delay without access to drink or food, a potty accident and a vomit incident. I don't pack anything that can make a mess.
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