Adults will find a way to occupy themselves during an airport layover, but it’s not always so easy when you’re traveling with kids. We’ve teamed up with family travel expert, Erin Bender of Explore With Erin to help us keep the kids amused. From 1 to 10-hour layovers, Erin’s done it enough times to give us her best tips.
In the past 8 years of travel with my children, we’ve had our fair share of layovers. I’d like to think I’m a pro in this area, but I can still be surprised sometimes.
Long gone are the days of sitting at the gate, waiting for that boarding call. Long gone are the days of listening to music or reading a book. Instead, I’ve become more savvy and more in tune with keeping the kids occupied and pumped for the upcoming flight.
We’ve used options like booking a hotel for our 10-hour layover in China from Australia to LA. Or booking a premium lounge in Turkey to enjoy food, drinks, Wi-Fi and some comfy couches. Other times I’ve even managed to turn a layover into a week-long vacation destination, instead of an hour-long stepping stone.
Those options are all well and good, but if you are stuck in an airport for a layover, how do you keep the kids sane?
Adults may eat when they’re bored, but kids eat all the time. Take the kids to McDonald’s for an airport treat or try the business lounge buffet. Take your time looking at the options and fill up those little tummies. Not only will this avoid the dreaded “hangry” meltdown, but it will also save you spending $10 for a soggy sandwich on the plane.
In a lounge, on your lap, in a hotel, on the floor. If you have enough time, try and get the kids to take a nap. Nothing passes the time like sleeping. Just make sure you set an alarm!
There are some pretty amazing airports around the world. A definite family favorite would be Singapore with its beautiful butterfly garden, multiple playgrounds and an entertainment zone with TVs and video games. While you wander, be sure to check out the family zone, koi pond, movie theater, swimming pool and more.
Other airports with playgrounds include Hong Kong, Heathrow, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Auckland, Las Vegas, Chicago, Perth and Sydney, just to name a few. The only problem with these playgrounds I’ve found is that they are often tucked away in an underutilized corner of the airport, so be sure to locate an information booth and leave plenty of time to get back to your gate.
Worried about those Fitbit steps? Never fear! Kids love new places so instead of rushing your way to your gate to just sit, explore this new land. Let little legs take you wherever they want. Or for slightly older kids show them how to read signs and give them the responsibility of getting you to the right gate.
My kids love to push, pull and ride the luggage. Hand it over and let them be entertained for hours.
Draw up a scavenger hunt with gate numbers, toilets, or water fountains for them to find and then set them free to run wild.
Bring out the coloring pencils or Lego pieces.
Let them make some new friends with the locals. That should keep them very busy for awhile.
And when all is said and done, bring out the electronics. You are going to be really tempted to do this right at the beginning, especially if everyone is tired, but resist. Electronics are the perfect activity for the plane so encourage the children to run, jump, play and eat while at the airport… and then when all else fails turn to the iSitter (iPad).
If you do need to resort to electronics while at the airport, consider having the kids make a music video on your phone or practice taking photos before settling down for a movie or games.
Do you have airport layover tips? Have you found an airport that stands out as the best place for family travel?
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