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Last Updated On: 2/2/2012

Both of my boys, ages ten and fourteen, traveled together to California for Christmas.  I was terrified that something was going to happen to them because not only did they have one stop, but they had to change planes too. The first stop was only forty five minutes, and the second was a almost two hours.  Images danced in my head like a stranger taking them, Unaccompanied Minor Travelgetting lost, my active ten year old using the airport as a playground.  To say there is a lot of stress involved is an understatement for both parents and child. I know I couldn't wait to get the phone call from my father, whom they were spending the holiday with, that my kids arrived safely and they are on their way.  Here are some things to discuss with your child before the big trip.

  • The Airport--I did not have to say so much to my fourteen year old, but I did have him listen as I talked to my ten year old.  He is very active.  I told him that the airport is not a playground.  He had to stay next to his brother at all times because the airport is very large, and he could easily get lost.  It would be a good idea to talk about what to do if your child does gets lost.

  • The Layover--Besides needing stuff to do on the plane, there would be some time between flights.  I told him that he needs to find stuff to do that will keep him occupied like drawing, his DS, his camera, a book to read.  I told my fourteen year old to pack some cards so they can play war.  Help your child find stuff to do on the airplane and during a layover.  Perhaps even shopping for something new to play with.  New things are always exciting to a child.

  • Bear--Being ten, he loves a stuffed bear animal that he has named, "Bear."  He wanted to bring him with.  I think it is good for a child to bring something that comforts them.

  • Emergency contact numbers--Write down all of the important contact information.  You can place this in your child's backpack or purse.  If you are taking advantage of the unaccompanied minor service, then be sure to let them know of any allergies or medication your child is taking.

  • Money--Both of my boys were given money for Christmas, and I made sure they took some with.  If the flight is direct, money probably won't be necessary.  However, if there is a layover, it would be a good idea that they have some for snacks and drinks.

  • Arriving--I told both of my boys that their grandpa should be right there at the gate when they get off.  If they are not, then they need to start walking towards the exit from the gates because they will be waiting there.  Let your child know what to expect upon arriving, especially if they are in the unaccompanied minor service.  If they know what to expect, they are less likely to get scared.

As parents, we are always going to worry about our kids safety however old they are.  Whether they will admit it or not, they are also scared.  Knowing how to prepare your child will help take some of the panic away from you and from them. 

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