Although you may prefer to take direct flights when you are traveling with children, there are times when you will have to deal with a layover. It does not matter if you are looking to save some money or you just want to move further ahead, layovers can and do happen at some point when you travel.
So, is there a special trick or some secret knowledge that you need to know when you are traveling with kids? Or, do you just sit there and hope that they don’t kick up too much of a fuss and disturb the other passengers?
Consider some of these tips from other parents who, like you, want to know the best way to handle long waits and layovers at the airport.
Technology May Be a Lifesaver
If you have an iPhone, this may be just the device that will keep you from pulling your hair out. It can help not only make the layover bearable but can bring calm to the entire trip. Be sure your smartphone is completely charged and is full of kid-friendly apps and games to keep them entertained – although it is more likely that your children will spend the majority of their time taking selfies and pictures of their shoes.
Don’t have an iPhone? No need to fret. Portable DVD players, handheld games consoles like the Nintendo DS, and Leapsters can also provide a nice technological distraction for your children as well. If you have a tablet, this is another good option as you can download some child friendly films, and let them watch free movies from your device. Just make sure to also pack a pair of comfortable headphones so that the noise of the film doesn’t distract other passengers.
Create Your Own Distractions
If you’re stuck with a long layover, you might need to create some distractions of your own to keep your kids entertained. Why not draw up a list of things that they need to spot and check off? This is sure to keep them entertained for a while.
Another idea is to give them a camera and ask them to take photos of things they have perhaps never seen before. If you have a view of the runway from the waiting lounge, taking photos of the planes taking off or landing is sure to keep children entertained for quite a while.
Another idea is to pack a goody bag of books, stickers and other inexpensive items to keep your children distracted. Try and give them one item at a time and let them know there are more items waiting for them if they are good and don’t disturb any other passengers. You can pack another bag of goodies for them to play with once you are on the plan.
Chances are, if your layover is for more than an hour, your children will start to get restless. Break away from the other passengers and take your troop outside. It is a good idea to research the area around the airport ahead of time to avoid high-crime areas, while also locating child-friendly attractions near the airport.
You do not know what fun things you and your children may discover. Going for a walk will prevent boredom and keep your kids’ energy high.
You may also want to take them to a child friendly restaurant and let them choose a special meal to eat. Not only will this prevent them whining about being hungry when on the plane, but it will also eat up an hour or more of your time, something that is ideal for busy parents.
So, what if none of these ideas work? Well, it may be time to change shifts with your spouse and head to the airport bar.
How do you handle layovers with children in tow?