My children flew around 60,000 miles in one year, and now that we’re back in the United States we permit them to fly unaccompanied to visit family members in other states. I give each of them one backpack with their favorite electronic device, a snack, paper and pen. They usually toss in their favorite blanket or a stuffed animal for the flight, too. Sneak a note or a photo inside the top of their bags just before they board so they have something to look forward to. My kids can both read now, so sometimes I surprise them with a new paperback or game book to boot.
How to give yourself and your kids a sense of peace so they can enjoy their solo flight:
- Take a photo of the kids on your mobile phone before they board the plane so you have record of what they’re wearing should anything unfortunate happen. Email the pic to the person picking them up on the other end of the flight. (Don’t tell them it’s for security purposes, of course.)
- Introduce them to the airline stewardess who escorts them on the plane.
- Give each child a watch to keep track of when they’re supposed to arrive (set to the local time of the location they’ll be visiting).
- Send a signed medical release for your child(ren) in a backpack so the people they’re visiting have your insurance information and can seek medical care on behalf of your child. For added safety, email the signed release to the hosts so they may retrieve it on a smart phone in an emergency.
- Place any prescription medications in the carry-on backpack should luggage be misplaced. Be sure to include an index card with dosing information to aid the host.
- Laminate a travel card for them with your emergency contact information, any allergies the child has, and the local name/address/phone contact for the people they’re traveling to see.
- Agree on a time you’ll speak on the phone or have an online video chat after their arrival so the child(ren) knows when he will have contact with you again.