If you recall the first rule of starting travel with your kids early and often, my wife and I found that by the time our son was about three years old is when the traveling started to get interesting. By this time he had become accustom to travel and knew how to be part of the tribe by watching and learning from my wife and me. Taking cues from us on how to move, navigate and have some basic understanding of the airport process. It’s amazing how much my son was able to pick up in those early developmental years. Although there were a few hiccups, like our son walking the wrong way through TSA in the Orlando airport and setting off alarms, he pretty much knew his way around an airport.
By the time that our son was mobile and had been watching mommy and daddy travel through airports for what’s been their entire life (all of three years by this time), he wanted to be part of the tribe. He wanted to be like mommy and daddy, so Rule #5 for traveling with kids…Make them responsible; make them part of the tribe. Kids, being the little sponges that they are tend to imitate the parents. Our son showed this by wanting his own wheelie bag and backpack to tote around the airport like mommy and daddy. Rather than discouraging this, we encouraged it. It’s a bit of upfront work, but hey, if he’s carrying his own snacks and “treasures” (i.e. his toys), then so be it; one less thing for mommy and daddy to lug around.
I think kids that are exposed to travel eventually want to take part, so my wife and I tried to make the encouragement as fun as possible. We had our son pick out his own Lightning McQueen wheelie bag, REI backpack and Hydroflask. He was so proud that he was doing things like mommy and daddy and feeling more a part of the traveling tribe doing “big-boy stuff”.