Travel tips for getting through customs quickly.

August 8, 2018



We recently took the whole gang to get passports for an upcoming trip, and it shockingly went pretty quickly! (Props to Gabe for being really prepared and having all of our documents ready beforehand.) Since we are heading to Dominican Republic next month, we need to have passports and go through customs. I was feeling really anxious about that, but so many of you shared helpful travel tips for getting through customs quickly. There were some great nuggets of info, so decided to put them all in one post for anyone else wondering the same things I was!

1. Passport app. – So many of you recommended this to us! It allows you to scan your passports and input your info for each person. This will cut your customs process time down and get you through lines faster!

2. Apply for Global Entry. – This would be more for the frequent traveler, because there is a fee to apply per person as well as an interview. This does apparently get you to the front of the lines though so well worth it if you travel abroad often.

3. Put as much into your checked baggage as possible.  – The less items you have to haul around the better, so we plan on having everything in two larger checked suitcases, and a few backpacks for plane items.

4. Strollers that fit into the overhead compartments. If you have a baby or toddler, having a stroller is really helpful when getting around the airport. They allow you to fit it in the overhead compartments as a carry on if it is the right size. You can also check larger strollers which the will allow you to gate check right before you get on the plane.

5. Slip on shoes. – With 5 little ones, getting shoes off and on for security will be comical. I am doing all slip on and velcro shoes!

6. Split passports in case something happens. – Gabe and I will both be carrying our own passports and dividing the kids’ passports. That way, if for some reason something happens to one set of the passports we will at least half of them still with us!

7. Bathroom breaks before landing. – I didn’t even think of this at first! Since there are no bathroom stops until before you are through the customs line, you can guarantee I will be taking them all to the airplane restrooms before we land to our destination!

Also, did you know you can take your own passport photos at home? We took the kids pictures using the guidelines on the U.S. passport website, and had them printed at UPS. They were accepted! It definitely saved us time!

From what I hear, European airports are much friendlier to families than American ones. Go figure! Any tips to add to the list? Wish us luck!

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  • Hi Anna! I just traveled to Punta Cana, DR and came back yesterday. If you are going to that airport I would highly recommend a few portable fans for your babes. It is an open air airport (no a/c). It wasn’t a problem flying in (things moved quickly) but traveling out we stood in lines for hours and some areas got pretty hot/humid. I wasn’t expecting that so I hope it helps you! Safe travels! It’s a beautiful country 🙂

  • Babywear – bring a carrier for the baby, especially if the baby doesnt have a carseat to sit on during the flight (babies can fly on lap until 2 years old.
    On american airports you dont have to take the baby out of carrier going through security!!

  • Kathleen

    Just took five kids to Italy in June and there were bathrooms before customs, which we utilize but it is smart to go on the plane. I will say that when they saw us with our crew, especially the 7 month old they whisked us into a special line! Traveling with a big family was such a delight, and people treated us with a lot of extra care! One other tip is make sure you write the passport application in black pen. We used blue because we weren’t paying attention and then we had to rewrite all 5 application right there with everyone running around! Totally bananas!

  • […] both in Atlanta and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and got through really quickly. (We shared some tips for getting through customs here.)   […]

  • I don’t know if your idea #6 would work for everyone… I’d be worried I was doubling my chances of something going wrong instead of splitting them.

    As a family with five kids (currently ages 10, 9, 7, 5, & 3) who has travelled internationally with them at least yearly for the past eight years, we’ve found it works best if we assign roles. One person is responsible for passports, the other is responsible for the kids. That way no kid wanders off, and no parent gets confused. It seems to work more efficiently and move the airport lines along faster too.

    • Yep whatever works best for each family! For us we each need to have a toddler because they both run in different directions. I had a few passports and Gabe had a few which helped us during lines, but that may not be best for everyone.

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