WHAT TO PACK
- Cell phone: If your child does not have a cell phone yet, get him or her a pay-as-you-go phone – make it easy for them to contact you in an emergency. Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased from most cell phone retailers for as little as $30. Make sure your child knows how to place a collect call and provide a calling card that can be used at a public telephone.
- Gift cards: Purchase a couple of pre-paid gift cards worth $25 or $50, this will let your child purchase food or any unexpected charges during the trip. This will save you the worry of them traveling with a large amounts of cash.
- Family members contact information: Give your child a list of names, numbers and addresses of the people who are going to be picking your child up at the airport.
- Photographs: Include a picture of the person who will be meeting them at the airport, and write the name and contact information on the back.
- Medication: Make sure your child has all medications he or she needs and is comfortable taking medications on their own.
- Travel day’s schedule: Make sure your child knows what to do in an emergency. Always explain to them how to handle flight delays, cancellations or how to handle an overnight stay. Provide at least two copies of this information and store it in two different places.
- Snacks: Pack some of their favorite foods such as chips, cookies, sandwiches, nuts, grapes, berries, gum, etc. Also tell them to buy a bottle of juice or water after they pass through the security checkpoint. Helps with jet lag.
- Entertainment: Put together a travel pouch to keep them entertained during the flight. Include such items as coloring books, crayons, books or handheld video games – wonderful distractions for little ones.
BEFORE THE FLIGHT
- Contact your airline carrier in advance of making a reservation for specific information and guidelines regarding children traveling alone.
- Always book a morning flight. If it is delayed or canceled, you have the rest of the day to make alternate plans.
- Any child under 17, flying alone on an international flight, must have a signed note from a parent or responsible adult giving permission, destination and length of stay.
- You must provide information regarding who will be dropping off and picking up your child from each airport. Children are escorted off the aircraft by a flight attendant and released to the designee or another designated employee.
- Go over with your child his or her itinerary and use a neck pouch for all their travel documents – especially if they’ll be needed for a return flight.
- Do not let your child wear any clothing that has his/her name on it, try not to make it easier for an impersonator to convince a child that they can be trusted.
- Mark your child’s luggage with a colorful ribbon, that makes it easy for them to recognize their bag.
AT THE AIRPORT
- Arriving early is important. Unaccompanied minors are usually allowed to board the plane early, so airlines recommend allowing plenty of time to check in and get through security. A relaxed pace will also be less stressful for your child.
- Inform the flight attendants that your child is traveling alone. Confirm that he or she will be seated in an area of the aircraft that’s convenient for attendants to keep an eye out – the very front or very back of the aircraft is ideal.
- When a connecting to another flight, pay any extra fees that are necessary to have a flight attendant assist your child to that connecting flight. Siblings flying together usually pay only one escort fee.