travelling under 18

Essential Guide to Travelling Under 18 in the United States

Table of Contents

Travelling under 18 in the United States can be a daunting experience for both parents and children, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it can be a smooth and enjoyable journey. That’s why I’ve put together this essential guide to provide parents with all the necessary information and tips for their children who will be flying alone. From age requirements and eligibility to fees and procedures, this guide covers it all.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the age requirements and eligibility criteria for unaccompanied minors traveling in the United States.
  • Familiarize yourself with the fees involved and the necessary procedures for booking and accompanying unaccompanied minors on flights.
  • Ensure your child is mentally and emotionally prepared for the journey and provide them with the necessary tools for communication and comfort.
  • Book nonstop flights whenever possible to simplify the travel experience for unaccompanied minors.
  • Choose the best seat for your child and make sure they have access to your contact information in case of emergency.

Travelling under 18 in the United States requires careful planning and attention to detail. From packing essentials to arrival and security check tips, this guide will help you navigate every step of the journey. Additionally, you’ll find valuable advice for unaccompanied minors themselves, such as how to handle unexpected situations and make the most of their travel experience.

Remember, it’s essential to enroll your child in a frequent flyer program to enhance their travel experience and take advantage of the benefits. And finally, rest assured that throughout the journey, your child will be taken care of, and their safety and well-being will be a top priority.

Age Requirements and Eligibility for Unaccompanied Minors

Before allowing your child to travel alone, it’s important to understand the age requirements and eligibility criteria for unaccompanied minors. Different airlines have varying policies, so it’s essential to check with the specific airline you’ll be flying with. Generally, most airlines consider children aged 5 to 14 as unaccompanied minors. However, some airlines may provide assistance for children up to the age of 17.

To ensure eligibility for unaccompanied minor status, it’s crucial to provide the necessary documentation. This typically includes a completed and signed unaccompanied minor form, which can be obtained from the airline’s website or at the airport. Additionally, you may need to provide proof of identification, contact information for the child and the accompanying adult dropping off and picking up the child, and any applicable fees.

Each airline may have specific rules regarding the age at which a child can travel alone without being considered an unaccompanied minor. Some airlines require children between the ages of 15 and 17 to provide proof of their ability to travel independently, such as a valid government-issued ID. It’s important to review the airline’s policies and procedures before making travel arrangements to ensure compliance and a smooth travel experience for your child.

Fees and Procedures for Unaccompanied Minors

Navigating the fees and procedures for unaccompanied minors can seem overwhelming, but understanding the process will help ensure a smooth travel experience for your child. When booking a flight for your unaccompanied minor, it’s important to be aware of the additional fees that may apply. These fees can vary depending on the airline and the specific flight, so it’s essential to check with the airline beforehand.

Most airlines have specific procedures in place for unaccompanied minors to ensure their safety and well-being throughout the journey. These procedures may include additional paperwork, such as a guardian release form, which grants permission for the child to travel alone. It’s important to complete all necessary paperwork and provide accurate contact information to the airline.

Additionally, airlines typically have specific guidelines regarding drop-off and pick-up procedures for unaccompanied minors. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these procedures to ensure a smooth transition for your child. Some airlines may require that the person dropping off the child remains at the airport until the flight has departed, while others may require the person picking up the child to provide proper identification.

Airline 1$50Guardian release form required
Airline 2$75Pick-up person must show valid ID
Airline 3$100Guardian must remain at airport until departure

Important Tips:

  • Check with the airline for specific fees and procedures for unaccompanied minors.
  • Complete all necessary paperwork and provide accurate contact information.
  • Familiarize yourself with drop-off and pick-up procedures for a smooth transition.

By understanding the fees and procedures associated with unaccompanied minors, you can feel confident in navigating the journey and ensuring a safe and enjoyable travel experience for your child.

Importance of Mental and Emotional Preparation

Traveling alone can be a significant milestone for a child, and it’s crucial to ensure they are mentally and emotionally prepared for the journey ahead. Being away from familiar surroundings and experiencing the process of flying solo can be overwhelming for young travelers, so it’s essential to provide them with the necessary support and guidance to navigate this new experience.

One way to help your child prepare mentally and emotionally is to have open and honest conversations about the upcoming trip. Discuss their feelings and any concerns they may have, addressing their fears and reassuring them that everything will be taken care of. Encourage them to ask questions and provide information about what to expect during their journey. This will help them feel more confident and prepared.

Additionally, it’s important to empower your child by teaching them how to handle unexpected situations. Discuss important safety measures, such as knowing who to approach for help at the airport and what to do in case of an emergency. Stress the importance of following rules and guidelines, listening to airport staff, and not leaving the gate without a guardian present.

Tips for Mental and Emotional Preparation
1. Encourage open conversations about their feelings and concerns.
2. Provide information about what to expect during the journey.
3. Teach them how to handle unexpected situations and stay safe.
4. Empower them to ask questions and express their needs.

Next Steps for a Smooth Journey

To further facilitate a smooth journey for your child, consider packing their carry-on bag with comforting items, such as their favorite snacks, a small stuffed animal, or a personal note from you. These familiar items can provide a sense of security and comfort during the flight.

Lastly, remember to stay available and close to your phone throughout your child’s journey. Being easily reachable is crucial in case of any unexpected developments or updates during travel. By staying engaged and attentive, you can ensure that you are there for your child, even when you are physically apart.

By following these tips and providing the necessary mental and emotional preparation, you can help your child feel more confident and secure as they embark on their solo travel adventure.

Internal link: Traveling Alone

Booking Nonstop Flights for Simplified Travel

When traveling alone, booking nonstop flights can greatly simplify the travel experience for your child and provide peace of mind for parents. Nonstop flights eliminate the hassle of layovers and the need to change planes, reducing the chances of delays or missed connections. With a nonstop flight, your child can travel directly from the departure airport to the destination airport without any intermediate stops, ensuring a smoother and more efficient journey.

By choosing a nonstop flight, you can minimize the potential stress and anxiety that may arise from navigating multiple airports, dealing with connecting flights, and managing tight schedules. This allows your child to focus on their travel experience, enjoying the journey, and feeling more comfortable throughout. Additionally, nonstop flights often have shorter travel times, saving valuable hours and ensuring your child reaches their destination quickly and without unnecessary delays.

Benefits of Booking Nonstop Flights

Booking nonstop flights for your child’s travel not only simplifies the journey but also offers several other benefits. Firstly, it reduces the chances of lost luggage or mishandled baggage since there is no need for baggage transfers during layovers. This adds an extra layer of security and peace of mind for both parents and children.

Benefits of Nonstop Flights:
No layovers or connecting flights
Reduces potential stress and anxiety
Shorter travel times
Less chance of lost luggage

In addition, nonstop flights often provide a more convenient schedule, allowing for better coordination with parents or guardians at both ends of the journey. This enables smoother pick-up and drop-off arrangements, ensuring a seamless transition for your child from the aircraft to their final destination.

Overall, when traveling under 18 in the United States, booking nonstop flights is a practical choice that simplifies the travel experience for your child. By eliminating layovers and connecting flights, you can minimize potential delays and stress, allowing your child to travel comfortably and safely. So, make sure to consider nonstop flights when planning your child’s solo journey.

Booking Nonstop Flights – Simplified Travel
Benefits:No layovers or connecting flights, reduces stress and anxiety, shorter travel times, less chance of lost luggage
Tips:Check flight schedules for convenient pick-up and drop-off arrangements
Link:Discover more travel tips on Top Travel Topics

Choosing the Best Seat and Contact Information

Selecting the right seat and ensuring your child has the necessary contact information is essential when they are flying alone. Not only does it provide them with a sense of comfort and security, but it also allows you, as a parent, to have peace of mind throughout their journey.

When choosing a seat for your child, consider their preferences and needs. Some children may feel more at ease by sitting near the window, while others may prefer the aisle seat for easy access to the restroom. Take into account their age and maturity level to determine if they would benefit from being seated closer to the front of the plane or near the flight attendants.

Additionally, make sure your child has their contact information easily accessible. Provide them with a card or note containing your name, phone number, and any other necessary emergency contact information. Encourage them to keep it in their pocket or carry-on bag at all times, ensuring it is readily available in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

To further enhance their safety and security, consider using a GPS tracking device or smartphone app that allows you to monitor their location during the journey. This can give you an added layer of reassurance as you can track their flight progress in real-time and ensure they are safely en route to their destination.

Remember, when your child is flying alone, every precaution counts. By selecting the best seat and providing them with the necessary contact information, you can help ensure their journey is as smooth and secure as possible.

Key Points
Choose a seat based on your child’s preferences and needs.
Provide your child with a card or note containing contact information.
Consider using GPS tracking devices or smartphone apps for added security.

Packing Essentials for Unaccompanied Minors

Packing the right essentials ensures that your child is prepared and comfortable throughout their journey as an unaccompanied minor. Here is a checklist of items that you should include in their travel bag:

  • Identification documents: Make sure your child has a valid passport or government-issued identification, as well as a copy of their birth certificate.
  • Travel itinerary: Include a printed copy of your child’s flight details, including the airline, flight number, departure, and arrival times.
  • Emergency contact information: Write down your contact details, including your name, phone number, and email address. Include an alternate emergency contact as well.
  • Important phone numbers: Provide your child with a list of essential phone numbers, such as the airline’s customer service, the airport’s information desk, and any other contacts they may need during their journey.
  • Comfort items: Pack a small blanket, a travel pillow, and their favorite stuffed animal or toy to help them feel secure and at ease during the flight.
  • Snacks and water: Bring some non-perishable snacks and a refillable water bottle to keep your child nourished and hydrated throughout the journey.
  • Entertainment options: Include books, magazines, puzzles, or electronic devices with headphones to keep your child entertained during the flight.
  • Medication: If your child requires any medication, ensure that they have enough for the duration of the journey, along with any necessary prescriptions.
  • Cash and cards: Give your child some cash in case they need to make small purchases or need to use a payphone or vending machine.
  • Charger and adapters: If your child is traveling with electronic devices, don’t forget to pack the charger and any necessary adapters for the destination.

Remember, it is essential to pack these items in a bag that is easy for your child to manage and carry independently. Preparing their essentials beforehand will ease any anxiety and ensure their journey as an unaccompanied minor goes smoothly.

Identification documents1 set
Travel itinerary1 copy
Emergency contact information1 sheet
Important phone numbers1 list
Comfort items1 blanket, 1 travel pillow, 1 stuffed animal/toy
Snacks and waterAs needed
Entertainment optionsAs desired
MedicationAs required
Cash and cardsAs desired
Charger and adaptersAs required

By packing these essentials and following the guidelines provided in this essential guide, you can ensure that your child’s journey as an unaccompanied minor is safe, comfortable, and stress-free. If you are looking for more information and tips on traveling under 18, visit for an extensive range of resources and guides to help you navigate the process.

Arrival and Security Check Tips for Parents

Arriving early at the airport and being prepared for security checks is crucial when your child is traveling alone. To ensure a smooth and stress-free experience, it is recommended to arrive at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure time. This will allow enough time for check-in, security procedures, and any unexpected delays that may arise.

Before heading to the airport, it’s important to familiarize yourself and your child with the security check process. Make sure your child understands the rules regarding liquids, electronics, and other prohibited items. It is advisable to pack these items in easily accessible compartments of their carry-on bag to facilitate the security screening process.

Additionally, it is highly recommended to provide your child with a clear plastic bag for any liquids they may have in their carry-on. This will make it easier for security personnel to inspect and avoid any unnecessary delays or complications.

Table: Prohibited Items

Prohibited ItemsAllowed Items
Sharp objects (e.g., knives, scissors)Medically necessary items (e.g., insulin syringes) with supporting documentation
Firearms and ammunitionPrescription medications labeled with the passenger’s name
Explosives and flammable substancesNon-alcoholic beverages and food items

Remember to check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for the latest updates on security regulations. By following these arrival and security check tips, you can help ensure a safe and smooth journey for your child as they travel alone.

Tracking the Flight and Staying Available

Keeping track of your child’s flight and being available throughout their journey provides parents with peace of mind and ensures a smooth travel experience. As your child embarks on their solo adventure, it’s essential to stay informed about their flight’s progress and be readily available in case they need assistance or reassurance.

To effectively track your child’s flight, utilize the flight tracking services provided by the airline. Many airlines offer real-time updates on their website or through mobile apps. By entering the flight number, you can monitor the departure, arrival, and any delays or schedule changes. This information allows you to plan and adjust accordingly, ensuring you don’t miss any important updates or milestones during your child’s journey.

Additionally, it’s crucial to remain available by keeping your phone charged and within reach at all times. Make sure your child has your contact information easily accessible, and encourage them to contact you if they need any assistance or encounter any issues. As a parent, being easily reachable provides reassurance to both you and your child, knowing that help is just a phone call away.

The Importance of Communication

Communication is key when your child is traveling alone. Regularly check in with them before, during, and after their flight. Reassure them that you are there to support them every step of the way. Encourage them to ask questions and speak up if something feels wrong or uncomfortable. By maintaining open lines of communication, you ensure that your child feels secure and confident throughout their journey.

Essential Tracking and Availability Tips
1. Utilize flight tracking services provided by the airline.
2. Keep your phone charged and within reach at all times.
3. Provide your child with your contact information and encourage them to reach out if needed.
4. Regularly check in with your child before, during, and after their flight.
5. Reassure your child that you are there to support them and to ask questions if needed.

By following these tracking and availability tips, you can ensure a smooth and worry-free experience for both you and your child. Remember, their safety and well-being are of utmost importance, and with the right preparation and communication, their solo journey can be a positive and empowering adventure.

For more essential tips and information on traveling under 18 in the United States, be sure to check out for a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the journey.

Tips for Unaccompanied Minors

As an unaccompanied minor, it’s important for children to be aware of certain tips to navigate their journey smoothly and safely. Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

  1. Listen and ask questions: Pay close attention to the instructions given by airline staff and ask for clarification if anything is unclear. Understanding the process and what is expected of you will help ease any anxiety.
  2. Speak up if something is wrong: If you encounter any issues or feel uncomfortable during your journey, don’t hesitate to speak up. Notify a flight attendant or airline staff member immediately, as they are there to assist you and ensure your safety.
  3. Don’t leave the gate without a guardian present: It’s crucial to wait at the gate until a designated adult comes to pick you up upon arrival. Avoid leaving the area with anyone other than the authorized person specified by your parents or guardians.

Remember, your safety and well-being are the airline’s top priority. By following these tips and staying alert, you can have a smooth and enjoyable travel experience. For more travel tips and information, be sure to visit

Tips for Unaccompanied Minors
Listen and ask questions
Speak up if something is wrong
Don’t leave the gate without a guardian present

Additional Tips for a Hassle-Free Journey

  • Carry necessary documents: Keep your identification documents, such as your passport or ID card, with you at all times. It’s also wise to have a copy of your travel itinerary and emergency contact information.
  • Pack essentials: Don’t forget to pack essential items like cash, a debit or credit card, a fully charged phone with a charger, and any necessary medications. Having these items on hand will help you navigate any unforeseen circumstances.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings: Stay aware of your surroundings and avoid engaging with strangers during your journey. Trust your instincts and notify a trusted authority if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Additional Tips for a Hassle-Free Journey
Carry necessary documents
Pack essentials
Be mindful of your surroundings

By following these tips and being well-prepared, unaccompanied minors can have a safe and enjoyable travel experience. Remember, it’s important to stay calm, communicate any concerns, and trust in the support systems provided by the airline. Happy travels!

Enrolling in Frequent Flyer Programs

Enrolling your child in a frequent flyer program can provide perks and benefits that enhance their travel experience as an unaccompanied minor. These programs are designed to reward loyal customers and offer various advantages, such as priority boarding, free checked baggage, and access to airport lounges. By signing up your child for a frequent flyer program, you can ensure that they receive special treatment and enjoy a smoother journey.

One of the key benefits of enrolling in a frequent flyer program is the opportunity to earn points or miles for each flight. These points can then be redeemed for future travel, allowing your child to enjoy discounted or even free flights. Additionally, some programs offer exclusive promotions and discounts specifically for young travelers.

Another advantage of frequent flyer programs for unaccompanied minors is the added peace of mind they provide. By registering your child with the airline’s program, they become part of a recognized and regulated system. This means that the airline will have their contact details and special instructions, ensuring that they receive extra attention and assistance throughout their journey.

Top Travel Topics: Your Ultimate Travel Resource

If you’re looking for comprehensive information and tips on traveling, be sure to visit Top Travel Topics. This online resource covers a wide range of travel-related topics, including destinations, accommodations, transportation, and more. Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a solo adventure, Top Travel Topics has got you covered with expert advice, detailed guides, and helpful recommendations. Make the most of your travel experiences by staying informed and prepared with Top Travel Topics.

Benefits of enrolling in frequent flyer programs:
Prioritized boarding
Free checked baggage
Access to airport lounges
Opportunity to earn points or miles
Redeemable points for discounted or free flights
Exclusive promotions and discounts
Added peace of mind and assistance for unaccompanied minors


In conclusion, the essential guide to traveling under 18 in the United States provides parents with all the necessary information and tips to ensure a smooth and safe travel experience for their child. The guide covers a wide range of topics, including age requirements, eligibility criteria, fees, and procedures for unaccompanied minors. It emphasizes the importance of mental and emotional preparation, suggesting parents take the time to discuss the journey with their child and address any concerns or fears they may have.

One of the key recommendations in the guide is to book nonstop flights whenever possible. This not only simplifies the travel experience for unaccompanied minors but also reduces the chances of delays or missed connections. Choosing the best seat and providing the child with contact information are other important considerations highlighted in the guide. By selecting a seat near the flight attendants and ensuring the child has a way to reach out in case of emergencies, parents can have peace of mind throughout the journey.

The guide also provides a checklist of packing essentials, including important documents, cash, cards, and a charger. It advises parents to arrive early at the airport to navigate security checks smoothly and recommends tracking the flight’s progress to stay informed. Additionally, the guide offers valuable tips for children flying as unaccompanied minors, such as listening to instructions, asking questions if something is wrong, and not leaving the gate without a guardian present.

Overall, the essential guide to traveling under 18 in the United States aims to support parents in navigating the process of their child flying alone. It provides comprehensive information and practical tips to ensure that both parents and children feel prepared and confident during the journey. By following the advice in this guide, parents can rest assured that their child will be taken care of and have a positive travel experience.


Q: What age is considered under 18 for unaccompanied minors?

A: Unaccompanied minors are typically children between the ages of 5 and 17 who are traveling without a parent or guardian.

Q: What are the eligibility criteria for children traveling as unaccompanied minors?

A: Airlines may have different eligibility criteria, but generally, children must be able to follow instructions, have valid identification, and have someone drop them off and pick them up at the airport.

Q: What fees are involved when booking unaccompanied minors on flights?

A: Fees for unaccompanied minors vary by airline and can include both a base fee and additional charges for certain services or special assistance, such as supervision during layovers.

Q: What procedures do I need to follow when booking and accompanying an unaccompanied minor?

A: Procedures can vary by airline, but typically involve completing necessary forms, providing contact information, and ensuring that the child is properly checked-in and picked up at both ends of the journey.

Q: How can I mentally and emotionally prepare my child to travel alone?

A: It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your child, address any concerns or fears they may have, and help them understand the travel process and what to expect.

Q: Why should I book nonstop flights for my child traveling alone?

A: Booking nonstop flights can minimize the chances of disruptions, reduce the overall travel time, and eliminate the need for the child to navigate multiple airports or face potential delays during layovers.

Q: How can I choose the best seat for my child and provide them with contact information?

A: Prioritize selecting a seat closer to the front of the plane and provide your child with a way to contact you, such as a cell phone or prepaid calling card, in case of emergency or if they need assistance during the journey.

Q: What essentials should I pack for my child traveling alone?

A: Make sure your child has proper identification, relevant travel documents, a sufficient amount of cash or cards, a phone charger, and any necessary medications or personal items they may need during the journey.

Q: What arrival and security check tips should I follow as a parent?

A: Arrive at the airport early to allow ample time for check-in and security procedures. Ensure that your child is aware of the screening process and any necessary documentation, such as a passport or boarding pass.

Q: How can I track my child’s flight and stay available throughout their journey?

A: Utilize airline tracking tools or flight tracking applications to stay updated on your child’s flight status. Keep your phone close by and remain available in case your child needs to contact you at any point during their journey.

Q: What tips should unaccompanied minors follow when flying alone?

A: It’s important for unaccompanied minors to listen carefully to instructions, ask questions if something is unclear, and not leave the gate area without a designated guardian present. Encourage them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or need assistance.

Q: Should I enroll my child in frequent flyer programs?

A: Enrolling your child in frequent flyer programs can offer benefits such as priority boarding, access to airport lounges, and the ability to earn rewards or miles for future travel.

Leave a Reply