Top 5 Tips for Airport Travel with Kids

Travel experts predict this summer of ‘22 may finally see a return to the crowds that we have come to know in summers prior. With the pandemic subsiding many families are planning their first significant getaway in a couple years.

Airlines are booked to the max and airports will be busier than ever. If you’re traveling with a family this can be a time of stress and worry.

In an effort to support our teachers traveling with families this summer, ThinkFives did research to find helpful tips to make the journey as stress-free as possible.

For that we turned to the Points Guy. The Points Guy (TPG) has been publishing hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences since the site debuted in June 2010. What started out as a points-and-miles blog by founder and CEO Brian Kelly has evolved into a lifestyle media brand with 10 million unique visitors a month and a social media audience of over 3 million.

Summer Hull, aka Mommy Points, recently published an article with many helpful ideas.

Don’t Check Bags if Possible

Don’t Check Bags if Possible

What is one of the easiest ways to avoid long lines? Don’t get in them in the first place.  And this summer baggage lines are expected to be longer than ever.

According to the Points Guy, “Flying with just carry-on bags will spare you potentially long lines to check your bag and avoids any lengthy wait at baggage claim when you land. The line to check a bag with some airlines, such as Southwest and Spirit, can be as long as 90 minutes at Orlando Airport on the busiest days.”

You are probably thinking it’s impossible to only use carry on when you’re with your family. But it may not be as difficult as you first think. Particularly for long weekend trips or one week vacations.

From the Points Guy, “First, strollers, car seats and booster seats do not count against your carry-on baggage allotment on most airlines. Also remember that if you are traveling as a family of four, you can bring a carry-on for each person (even if they aren’t old enough to carry it themselves just yet).

I know it’s not always realistic to pack everything you need in carry-on bags, especially when traveling with multiple young children, but if you can pull it off, you will be glad you did.”

If You Check Bags – Use A Kiosk

If You Check Bags – Use A Kiosk

If our #5 tip is impossible for you and your family, then we have a tip just for you. Check to see if your airport and airline has automated bag tag kiosks, as those lines can be much, much shorter.

Different airlines have different solutions so it’s best to do a little research ahead of time. That knowledge could potentially save you up to 60 minutes.

From the Points Guy, “Since checked bags are free with Southwest, that airline often has the longest bag check lines. Another option we use frequently when we must check bags, especially during peak travel times, is to use the Skycap Service at curbside check-in. If you get dropped off at the curb, you can use curbside check-in and the Skycap (it’s customary to tip them) will make sure you don’t have to deal with your bags for one extra step.”

Bring a Travel-Friendly Stroller

Bring a Travel-Friendly Stroller

For teachers and their families flying with a young child, you may want to check that you have the most travel-friendly stroller.  Bumbling around on the security line trying to understand how your stroller folds – or doesn’t – can be frustrating for you as well as for all those glaring at you from behind.

From the Points Guy, “Travel-friendly strollers should be lightweight and easy to fold. Before heading to the airport, make sure you know how to fold it up securely and fit it through the security scanner.

Remember you’ll need to take all of your belongings (including your child) out of the stroller when it’s time to go through security.”

Be Prepared to Keep Your Kids Busy

Be Prepared to Keep Your Kids Busy

No matter how you organize it, a travel day can be a long day for anyone, especially a child. While your best plan was to have your child sit at their window seat and studiously observe the changing terrains outside for three hours, you may need to find an alternative.  Similarly, your hope that they would complete their summer reading list in one sitting may also not be realistic.  And that’s not even considering delays and cancellations that are certainly common in the summer.

From the Points Guy, “Some airports have indoor play areas where your kids can let off steam before having to sit still for a flight. These play areas are great ways to pass the time in the airport when you have younger kids. It doesn’t take much to make a toddler, preschooler, or even a younger elementary kid happy in an airport as long as there is something to do.”

And as teachers, you know how important it is to bring along games, books, and other activities.  It’s a great time for family fun too. You can play cards sitting next to a child at the airport or on board.  You can even bring flash cards to support learning and include picture books or other lighter school readings.



#1 on our list and the leading suggestion from The Points Guy is getting you and your family PreCheck.

We can’t overestimate the importance of this in the summer months.  There is no worse feeling than showing up at the airport and traversing the revolving door, only to see lines of hundreds of people in front of security.

From the Points Guy, “Getting through security gets so much easier when everyone in your family has access to PreCheck. The time it takes to secure five years of PreCheck will be worth it the second you see a long TSA security line that you can skip for the (usually) shorter and faster PreCheck line. Your kids can piggyback with you through PreCheck until they turn 13 years old, at which point they must have their own PreCheck approval.”

If you are planning some international travel, you may want to opt for Global Entry over TSA PreCheck to expedite your time spent in immigration and customs upon re-entry to the U.S. Every person in your family, regardless of age, will need to sign up for Global Entry (and pay the $100 application fee) to use the benefits. It’s money well spent as Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck, so you’ll reap the benefits of both programs.”

Another option is Clear, which is a paid service that uses biometrics to get you through the airport even faster. With Clear, children under 18 who are traveling with a Clear member can go through the Clear lane without needing to sign up for an account.

Clear does require an annual paid subscription and it may not be worth it if you fly infrequently.  A number of rewards credit cards will reimburse some or all of your fees, so it might be worth checking.


Do you have any tips for fellow teachers traveling with their families this summer?


  1. I have the TSA Precheck, it was the best thing I did! No removing shoes and I get to zip through the TSA line! Such a stress remover!

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