How do you know which airport security line is the fastest to get through? It’s the one without a stroller. Yes, other travelers will discriminate against you because you have kids… and a stroller… and 2 carryons… and liquids… Ok, so maybe they have a point. They will avoid you like your family has the plague. (Of course, you just might. Kiddies are little biological probes…) You might not be as fast through security with twins as you were before you had children, but we’ll give you some tips to speed things up a bit.
Plan ahead! We say this over and over again but cannot stress enough how important this is with all things travel related when little ones are involved. You know the process, think it through with a clear head well beforehand. Time pressure and child meltdowns can force even the calmest of us into avoidable mistakes.
1. Know your roles. As you get to security you should know what to expect and plan for it. As you get to the plastic bins with your little ones in the stroller take care of yourselves first. Get the bags onto the conveyor, take off shoes, empty pockets, etc. Someone has to unload the stroller (gear before babies). Where are the liquids? Who has the electronics? Who will hold 2 babies while the other is collapsing the stroller(s)? Figure out what works for your family and do it the same way each time. Consistency is the key here.
2. Dress for success. The less you (and your kids) have to remove at security, the easier it will be. Wear shoes that you can take on and off quickly. Minimize bulky jewelry. Pack your jackets in a suitcase or carry on. Once you have checked your substantial luggage at the ticket counter, parents should be preparing for security- removing and storing wallets/watches/belts/mobile phones/etc in carry ons while keeping ID/passport/boarding pass handy, etc. Security made us take shoes off our 4mo old girls (which was beyond ridiculous), but that is no longer necessary in the US for kids under 12.
3. Compartmentalize. You put all your liquids in a small baggie for security. Why stop there? Organizing your carry ons will speed up the security process. For example, we each had small Ziploc bags for liquids (medicines/toiletries), 1 gallon sized bag for foods/snacks/bibs, another for toys/books/entertainment, one small collapsible cooler for milk/formula, etc. You hit security with the liquids and laptops most accessible (though not necessarily together!). You pull them out of the bag and place them in the bin. Yes, it is a pain to be this organized, but there are enough stressors vying for your attention at the airport. Use down time to organize beforehand.
4. Many airports have an express/family lane. If you don’t see one, just ask the nearest airport employee. This is especially handy if you have to change flights in international airports. (It boggles my mind why I go through security, spend 8hours in an aluminum tube, then have to go back through security again. Don’t think I can cause much trouble with the plastic spork that came with my meal!) You fall to the end of the line waiting for strollers and elevators as you deplane but family lines allow you decrease time spent waiting with little wigglers. Some countries even have a family line at customs. Keep a look out for them!
5. Stroller(s) : There are many options out there. We used 2 umbrella strollers on our first international trip but never after that. We prefer small, light side-by-side double strollers. Our double strollers were Delta City Street Side by Side and Combi Twin Sport DX stroller. They are narrow enough to fit through standard doorways and collapse small enough to slide through the X-ray scanner on the conveyor belt (much to the surprise of security staff). This way is much faster than getting the stroller pat-down. Please read our post about how to choose the right double stroller when traveling with twins.
6. If you are traveling with breast milk or liquid formula, let security know in advance. It will add another painful step to the process as most airports will test it to make sure it’s not explosives. Keep the liquid in a ready to drink bottle that is easy to open and close. Some international airports may ask you to drink it. That was a surprise to us! (You can have your children drink it instead.) They won’t let you bring an ice pack to keep it cool so bring a lot of small Ziploc-type bags that can be filled up with ice from a nearby restaurant as soon as you exit the security area.
7. Avoid pre-packaged food or juice boxes. Some security in international airports will open them and you will be left with an open container. Sometimes you will be forced to throw them away while others you will have to eat/drink immediately or find a way to store them. You can bring your own containers that are easy to open for testing and close securely afterward. Some international airports inspect carry ons at the gate. In these airports, you are often not able to bring any purchased liquids onto the plane. This can be quite inconvenient (if you buy water for formula, etc). Some airlines (many international flights) stock baby food and will give it to you on request.
8. Baby Bjorns/slings. We tried to use them a couple of times but security had us put them through the scanner (without babies). Good for getting on/off the plane but not for security.
9. Toddlers (2-4 years old). Educate them in advance about going through security and it will help avoid many security meltdowns. Explain to them that they will get their favorite toys or blankets back shortly. Our girls were responsible for carrying their ‘backpacks’ through the airport (generally containing a blanket, stuffed animal, and a book or small toy). We would have them put their packs in a bin just like mom and dad. At these ages kids can be carried or walk through security by themselves.
10. Don’t forget to ask for help if needed. We have had help from people next to us in line and security personnel. They are usually happy to help (in fact, they generally offer before you ask).
11. Double check. Take a final long look and make sure that you have everything. You’ve made it this far but you could be in for a long flight if you leave something critical behind!
12. Relax and smile. Plan ahead and take your time. There may be a few bumps in the road but remember to take a deep breath, look around, and enjoy yourself.
Now, go explore the world! Bon voyage!