Air travel is complicated for everyone these days. Different airlines have different regulations, and international flights or international travel sometimes call for extensive documentation. Before your little one heads off for a trip with Grandma and Grandpa or an older sibling, your best bet is to be safe rather than sorry. Hand their guardian all the information (legal documents, proof of age, and contact information) and identification you think she could possibly need and they'll arrive at her destination -- and get home again -- safely.
Also ensure the adult escorting your child has all travel documents necessary and real id if needed on their form of identification, some photo id options include a drivers license or passport. Using documents to apply for TSA precheck may also be a helpful travel tip when taking children through the airport.
Ticket and Passport
For a domestic flight, your child only needs Their boarding pass to fly; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn't require passengers younger than 18 years old to show a form of ID to get onto a plane. If you're the one to buy your child's plane ticket, walk them into the airport so you can use your credit card to pick up their boarding pass; otherwise, it's simplest for the legal guardian or relative traveling with the child to buy the ticket so they'll have the purchase card handy for picking up boarding passes. If your child is leaving the country, they must have a valid passport or passport card. Verify that your child’s passport is up to date and has accurate details such as the child’s age. Visit travel.state.gov for information on applying for a passport.
Your relative probably won't be asked for proof of consent to travel with the child through a letter of consent or a child travel consent form if they're taking a domestic flight, but it's wise to create one anyway. When your child is leaving the country, her guardian must carry this letter; in fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection warns that if the guardian is asked for a consent letter and can't produce it, they might be detained for questioning. There's no official document to fill out, so you'll have to make up your own. Write a letter stating that you, as the child's parents, authorize the relative to travel with the child. Include both the child and relative's names and details about their travel plans. Both parents should sign the letter and get it notarized. In addition, provide the relative with a copy of each child's birth certificate. Even if the trip is family travel, documentation may be requested, pay attention to court orders and alternative requirements for those who do not have sole custody of the child they are putting on a plane.
Medication and Medical Consent
The airline certainly won't ask your child's guardian for a medical consent letter, but when someone's taking your kid out of town, that person needs to be prepared to keep them healthy. Write up a letter similar to your parental consent letter, stating that the relative is permitted to authorize medical treatment for your child in the event of an emergency. The AAA Exchange recommends including the child's health insurance policy information and their Social Security number. You'll also need to pack up any medications your child takes regularly or occasionally and write up an instruction sheet for the relative. For example, explain how to administer your child's daily dose of allergy medication, or how much ibuprofen you typically give her for a headache. Add a list of the child's allergies to the page. Pack the medicine in your child's carry-on and give the letter to the relative.
No matter who they’re traveling with, your child needs the usual mix of underwear, socks, pajamas, pants, shirts, sneakers and toiletries, and you should be the one to oversee packing. If your child is young, you'll also need to pack things like diapering supplies, extra formula, their car seat, stroller, or a portable potty seat and provide instructions for use. When traveling without you, your kiddo might need a little more comfort than they would otherwise. Pack comforts like a family photo in their suitcase, tuck a favorite stuffed animal into the bag and stow a few new books and treats for the flight into her carry-on. The chance of your child sending you a postcard on her own is probably nonexistent, so if you're hoping for some memento of the trip, hand the relative some stamps on their way through airport security.
Do further research such as whether your child should travel in their own seat with seatbelt adjustments or as a lap child. Also pay attention to rules for unaccompanied minors, check-in may be different or longer know that flight attendants will monitor and help keep children safe once it is time for their flight.