Ann’s guide of how to tackle the airport with kids in tow!

The lovely Ann Stucki told us about life as a travelling Mum back in August!  Well we loved hearing about The Stucki Family Travels then and we wanted to hear more!  Like Carolyn, Ann is a bit of a phil&tedsaholic as well as a bit of a super Mum!  Ann and her hubby Brian, Colin & Jane – her little treasures live in the US of A but do a whole heap of travelling about as Brian is an Opera singer.

Here’s a little bit about Ann (from her own blog): “Prior to becoming a traveling opera wife and full-time mother, Ann Hinckley Stucki studied socio-cultural anthropology as an undergraduate and went on to receive her master’s degree in social work. She has worked in a variety of fields from health education, mental health/community/school social work, geriatrics, childbirth labor support, and disease prevention in Latin America. Her research pursuits have taken her from a Costa Rican/Nicaraguan border dispute to London, England to present graduate research at a Medical Anthropology conference. Additionally, she is an award-winning photographer and enjoys portrait work. She also teaches fire breathing.” – Well Ann we wanna see pics or a video of you fire breathing – don’t we?! (If you want to see it add a “HELL YEAH!” to the comments at the end of this post ;0))

Take it away Ann…

Congratulations! You are going on a trip with your child/children! How very brave of you! Tickets purchased, bags packed, and now to get yourself, the luggage, personal belongings, and children from your home and actually onto the airplane! This is not my favorite part of traveling but it is strangely inevitable. I love reading and applying travel tips/ideas and I am hoping to pass along some of my favorites here. We do not do things perfectly by any means, but we are always trying and with a little trial and error, we have come to a few loose conclusions/suggestions.

Jane preparing for her trip!

Getting to and through the airport:

Sadly, we do not have easy public transportation in our home city to the airport. This first tip may not always make sense, but occasionally, when we haven’t had a spacious car owning friend available to take us to the airport, we have gotten a cheap car rental from the airport the day before so we can drive ourselves and check in the car at the same time. Sometimes when family, luggage and multiple car seats already take up most of the space in a car, we have found this to be a nice option. It can be a lot less expensive than getting an airport shuttle or taxi.

It seems that the most harrowing leg of air travel with kids can actually be the short luggage-laden trip from curb to ticket counter. We love the sky cap and feel like tipping the nice guys who take our baggage at the curb is money well spent! If we are checking in a rental car, once my husband’s ID is checked, he can take one of the kids and return the car while I take care of the check in. Airports in the United States drive us crazy because they always charge for luggage carts. I think just about everywhere I have been in Latin America/Europe/Asia/Middle East and all have had complimentary luggage carts for passengers. Come on America, help a family out!

Once you are through the airport doors, there is that lovely detail of getting through security. How we love the security screenings! Please unpack most everything you have just neatly packed to make it through your day of travel. Worst of all, the kids have to walk through too. My kids especially at age 1-3 are runners which makes security extra exciting. Once when I was traveling alone with my two kids, I was lucky enough to be selected for an extra security screening. There was a nice lady behind me who thankfully stayed with my kids. My almost two year old daughter would have run off to board a flight to Ghana given the chance. I find it adorable too when security makes me take my toddlers’ soft soled leather shoes off (they are practically socks), as if my child is the next shoe bomber. If you are traveling with a stroller be ready because you will need to fold the stroller and get it x-rayed at security. You can ask to have the stroller hand checked if you have too much to handle through the check point. Remember too that even though there are limitations on liquids you can travel with, breast milk or prepared formula and baby foods are fine to take through (Caveat: In London once, I was asked to take a drink of the contents of a bottle, presumably to prove it was not a hazardous substance. Thankfully it was apple juice, and not my own breast milk.) I always make sure to have an empty water bottle to fill up on the other side of security and a couple of extra sippy cups for beverage service on the plane. Also make sure to take advantage if the airport security has a special line for people traveling with kids, well worth it!

One final thought: as kids get old enough, get them involved in the process. Our son loves having his own little backpack of toys to put on the security conveyor and loves taking a turn pulling a roller bag. He knows the routine so well by now, he hardly needs directing. He has flow so much he has already earned his own frequent flyer ticket.”

Thanks so much to Ann for Part one!  We’ve got more advice from Ann about how she adapts&survives!

10 comments on “Ann’s guide of how to tackle the airport with kids in tow!

  1. Yes, we will have to work on a video of the fire breathing. The best thing is that my same friend who taught me how to breath fire 12 years ago(in a whole other life it feels like) also introduced me to phil&teds strollers back in 2006!

    I also have this responsible mom voice that has invaded my head which worries about kids playing with fire, and more specifically MY kids playing with fire. Hmm. . . we will figure something out!

  2. HELL YEAH!

    p.s. fabulous blog post Ann! So relieved to hear you didnt have to taste your own breast milk heh heh!

  3. As I mention Before love reading from you and Carolyn! :) You are a trooper I am kinda threading going to the States and Mexico to visit my family and friends as my little ones are SO ACTIVE!! U gave me hope! and of course HELL YEAH! hehe oh! Tahiti Airport also charges for the luggage carts :/

  4. Dear Ann:
    I’d like to ask you for some advice I am travelling from Montreal to Buenos Aires and will be spending there 2 month…I got the explorer recently and wish to bring it with me to use on those beautiful bumpy streets of tango :) Now my question is: is it better to checasthenosphere P&T as luggage to pick up at my destination and use 2 cheap stroller umbrellas in the airports? ( I have a 2 1/2 and a baby that will be 7 month by
    then …I’d love to gate check my p&t but not sure if it’s ok, I am also concerned that if I send it with the luggage they can brake it?
    So do u take it with u to the gate?
    Thanks so much in advance
    regards,
    Marcela

  5. Hola Marcela! Sos argentina? Que haces por alla? Vivi un ano y medio en la argentina y estoy tomando mate ahora!

    Sorry, I do not have all the correct castellano accent marks on my laptop and maybe you are not even Argentine, all the same, hooray for your travels! In the second part of what I wrote I directly address your question, here is a little sneak peek:

    Traveling with our phil&teds:

    * We love traveling with our double phil&teds and could not imagine being without it while exploring the world! We have used it a few different ways in airports. If you’re not checking it from the start, the stroller is a great way to get all the carry-on luggage to the gate with you. We sometimes have our older child walk or we carry our little one so as to free the doubles kit for back packs/computer bags/camera equipment, etc. When we use our stroller through the airport we check it at the gate. Unfortunately when gate checking, our stroller would frequently not come back to us at our arrival gate but would go to the main luggage carousel (despite being clearly marked as a gate checked item). Different airports handle things differently, especially when traveling internationally, just to add to the excitement of the day. We were lucky to not have our stroller damaged by a lot of gate checking. I have heard of many people whose strollers have been damaged or broken, so beware. (When gate checking I used to travel with a roll of plastic wrap in my diaper bag and we would wrap the stroller prior to gate checking to try and protect the fabric. I shared this tip with a friend who one upped me by padding the handle bar of their phil&teds with diapers and then plastic wrapping it, brilliant!)
    * After two years of phil&teds use we finally invested in the up&away travel bag to ensure the stroller is well packed and safe while we travel. We now prefer to pack the stroller at home prior to the trip and send it safety with our checked luggage. The bag does a great job of protecting our beloved buggy. How sad would that be to get to your destination stroller-less! Since the rear wheel guards need to come off to properly pack the stroller in the travel bag, make sure if you have one of the models where the guards go on with a screwdriver to pack a screwdriver too! It may take a couple of times to see how to pack the up&away bag so maybe try it at home and don’t leave figuring out how everything fits in the bag on the jet way! As I said, it is our preference to pack it up before we travel and to send the stroller on its merry way since we are typically juggling a little more than we can handle as we board the plane. Also, if you have a Lazy Ted adapter which makes a great baby bouncer/travel chair from your doubles kit, the Lazy Ted also fits with the stroller in the up&away bag, hooray!! One easy thing while traveling!

    Sorry, super long answer! But we have taken a very cheap umbrella stroller to use through the airport while the stroller is checked. Would it be an option to have your 7 month old in a carrier so you would not have to bring 2 little strollers? I do really like the up&away bag to know the p&t stroller is safe.

    What a great trip you have coming up, I would love to get back to Argentina! I’ll be writing up what has help me pack and tips on keeping kids happy on airplanes soon too!

  6. Si, soy Argentina, Ann :) asi we viviste en Argentina?? Si thanks so much for the great info, I agree that if there is any minimal chance of damage in checking the stroller at the gate I would prefer to buy the travel bag, nobody touches my baby (my precious phil&ted ) lol . I heard great things about that bag. Now it’s not easy to find here, but that’s another story.
    Ann agai thanks for then info… I’d like to keep I touch with you…if you want to friend me on Fb we can share our travel adventures you
    can find
    me with : mwierny@hotmail.com
    gracias,
    Marcela