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How to Survive a Layover with Young Kids


Traveling with your kids can be a fun and rewarding experience, and provide you with a treasure trove of memories that you’ll be able to recall with fondness later. It can also be a harrowing, frustrating experience if you’re not properly prepared, though. Sometimes a layover is unavoidable, but the lack of a direct flight doesn’t have to be the kiss of death for your family trip. These tips can help you not only survive a long layover with little ones, but perhaps even have a bit of fun.

Research Airport Play Areas

Before you embark upon your incredible journey, start researching the availability of play spaces and kids’ areas in the airport where you’ll be spending your layover time. Many airports, understanding the inherent difficulty of managing a trip with kids during air travel, have created areas specifically designed to keep kids occupied and entertained while their parents wait for flights to come in. Find out what, if any, facilities are available for kids in the airports where you’ll be spending a bit of time. If there are no dedicated play areas, make a point of exploring the stores, restaurants and lounges together.

Set Your Kids Up for Layover Success

Much of how well your kids manage a layover will be dependent upon how well you’re equipped for the occasion. Bring along tablets, smartphones and tech toys that your kids enjoy, and be sure that you have the requisite chargers on hand to keep them running after the battery is depleted. Bring along a favorite stuffed animal or comfort object for those moments of uncertainty and stress. Also, realize that a tired, hungry little one is sure to be a cranky little one before long. Make sure that your child is as well-rested as possible, and that she’s got access to plenty of snack foods along the way. You may have to relax your standards regarding restricted foods and be prepared to spend a bit more than market value for airport food, but a well-fed child isn’t as likely to have a meltdown in the middle of the airport.

Consider Leaving the Airport

Depending on how long your layover is, you may want to consider getting out of the airport altogether for a bit. Find out what, if any, kid-friendly attractions are in the area and determine whether or not you have enough time to visit them. Just be sure that your first plane arrives on schedule and that there’s no danger of missing your connecting flight, or your long layover could turn into a missed flight and a stressful situation.

Invest in a Photo Editing App

Kids love to snap pictures of the things around them, and they love crafts projects. You can’t very well pack a full art studio in your carry-on luggage, but you can simulate the experience by investing in a few photo editing apps for your smartphone that allow your child to alter, doodle and paint on the snapshots they’ve taken. When it comes to a no-fuss, mess-free art project, you can’t beat these applications.

Set Up a Scavenger Hunt

While you’ll want to accompany your youngsters every step of the way in a crowded airport, why not make a scavenger hunt list before you leave the house? Look for things like “a man in a yellow shirt” or “three green signs.” Kids will get a kick out of crossing every item off the list, they’ll expend a bit of energy before boarding another plane, and the entire family can get in on the fun. For a competitive edge to the game, split into two teams with a parent heading up each team, then see who can check off the most items in the allotted time.

Enjoy the Experience

Like so many things in life, the success or failure of the layover experience will lie largely in your perspective of the matter. If you feel like the situation is doomed to be a disaster, then that’s the way you’ll remember it and the mood you’ll project to your kids. If you approach it from the perspective of a new and exciting adventure, you may just find that everyone has fun along the way.

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