What is it like traveling with mixed kids?
Traveling when you don't look like your parents or match your kids presents some unique obstacles. And while you may not face them all the time, you most certainly will face them at least once or twice if you are part of a multiracial family.
I remember traveling with my Uncle to England; he was a darker shade of brown than me, I was in college and he was in his 50's. Leaving NYC was no problem but trying to get into London was not so easy.
The customs agent began to go down a line of questions that assumed I was being kidnapped/trafficked. Thank God I was older and could speak for myself but it flustered my Uncle who was an immigrant and conscious of his accent (and his skin color especially while abroad). We were finally able to move through but not before I told the lady what it was in my finest NYC attitude.
𝗧𝗜𝗣 1: Always Travel with Documentation
My first tip in this series is to always travel with documentation. If you are the parent of mixed kids, make sure you carry a copy of their birth certificate that proves you are the parent/parents. I always carry my daughter's just in case and I have, believe it or not, been asked to produce it. It's a simple thing but it can really help out should you find yourself in a tough spot.
TIP 2: Be Timely & Organized
When traveling, be as timely and organized as possible. Having more time will allow a buffer in case you are questioned or detained.
As a person with the last name Mohammed, I can tell you that I am always randomly checked, have my luggage randomly searched, and am always randomly selected for more screening of any and all kind. If I did not allow myself time- these checks would make me miss a flight.
Have all your paperwork neat and orderly, and ensure your luggage is the same way in case of checks.
TIP 3: Rehearse Possible Questions with Your Child
If you are traveling with a child, this tip is for you.
Before you set out, rehearse with your child possible questions they may be asked. If your child is verbal, ensure they can reply if spoken directly to.
A lot of the time, agents will ask the child a direct question and they expect a direct answer from the child- not the parent.
This actually happened a few weeks ago to us- we were moving through TSA and the agent asked my kid her full name and age. Had she not been able to respond, I can see us having been pulled aside.
If your child doesn't know it by now, be sure to teach them your/your partner's first and last name (real name, not Mommy/Daddy), a phone number, their full address, their full name and their ages. For the trip, tell them where you are going and why (Mexico for vacation, or Texas to see family). Practice asking them a question and them answering it. Have a discussion about traveling and if an official asks them a question to answer it loudly and clearly.
It may seem like overkill, but these are all important pieces of info to know- why not teach them now rather than later?
TIP 4: Just Go!
Our last tip is to JUST GO!
We know it can be daunting traveling with kids period but it's so worth it. They get so much out of the experience and the more you do it, the more experience you'll have and learn what works and what doesn't.
For us we know we can only get on direct flights. We also know our kid is a morning flyer and she loves snacks. We run her out before we get on the plane to reduce her energy and we reserve special things just for travel (like she can only watch movies on an iPad when she's on a plane, she can get a little ginger ale while on a plane, etc.).
Travel is a great way to teach kids about diversity, geography, respecting customs and traditions, manners, the list goes on and on.
So, get out there and explore!