Navigating the Airport – Teaching Your Young Adult to Fly Solo
My firstborn is graduating high school and moving on to college. An away college. Along with all the emotions that come with this giant leap into adulthood for our precious babies comes the (somewhat forced) acceptance that we will no longer be able to be with them to hold their hand through these new steps.
My daughter has been flying since she was one month old and has flown domestically and internationally but…always with me beside her. I realized coming back from our college tour that she is going to have to fly home alone at least a few times during the school year. (Yes, I am assuming she will miss her family and will still want to be with us for holidays and school breaks. That one I am not ready to let go of just yet). So, we started talking about traveling and navigating the airport.
When we landed at our home airport, I asked her which way we needed to go to collect our luggage and get to our car. She took the time to look at all the signs and easily enough found Baggage Claim. There were a few more transportation options to figure out the car park, but we eventually managed that as well.
We will be flying again soon for more college interviews, and I will have her take charge of the way from the moment we arrive at the airport – from check-in and luggage, checking for gate information, finding the right TSA line, getting to the gate early, and…always a mom….one last potty break before we board.
We have a few trips planned between now and when she starts college and we will be practicing with each of the airports that service her school area so she can have some familiarity with each of them. We’ll discuss what to do if the flight is canceled, watching for gate changes, finding a customer service desk, and everything else I can think of to prepare her as best I can for emergencies or unexpected situations.
The next time you travel with your children, even if they are not ready to fly solo, give them your flight information, show them the basic signs, and then let THEM lead the way. It will help them develop independence and confidence to go it alone when they are ready.