... There are long airport lines, security checkpoint(s), boarding the plane, sitting in a confined, shaking, noisy space that can pressure little ears, and travel etiquette issues like not kicking the seats...

But when children understand what to expect and what is expected of them, they are always much better behaved.

If parents are prepared and prepare their children as well, travel with little ones can be an absolute joy!

Links to recommended articles - each emphasizing the need to involve children in preparation for the trip!

Packing and Pre-Trip Considerations.
Links to our
favorite checklists.

Tools (DVDs & Books) to Prepare Toddlers for Travel.

26 June 2008

Flight Delayed? What To Do With Toddlers At the Airport

Airlines are feeling the squeeze just as we are and flights are being cancelled, delayed and re-routed at an unprecedented rate. When you are a parent flying with a toddler, the prospect of an extra hour (or three) at the airport can be daunting. But fear not! Tried and true plans of action await you below...

First, and most importantly, if possible, keep moving!!!

Exhausting as it may be for the parent, ideally it will be for your kiddos, too, so that when they do finally board the plane, they’ll be ready to nap or snack (ie, sit still). If a family sits, sits, sits during the delay, parents shouldn't be surprised when their children are ready to consider the airplane seat their own personal jungle gym! As one parent writes, "As a professional speaker, I spend many hours in airports. It amazes me how many parents insist that their toddler or preschooler sit in a stroller or a chair waiting for the flight. Since everyone will be constricted on the plane, it’s better to keep active in the airport."

What is a travelling parent to do?

  • Explore. Most airports have displays on loan from local museum collections. Many airports have kid play areas.
  • Count baggage. Identify colors of shoes walking by. Make a scavenger list together (let your child help think of silly things to look for and then set off to see if any of the items can be found)
  • Play "One Sip" - I am quoting directly from a great Travel Tips page over at Silvana from Nashville writes about this fabulous game: "My daughter and I like to play the “one sip” game. We walk through the airport from drinking fountain to drinking fountain, taking only one sip at each. The idea is to walk as far as possible with your child."
  • Hit the loo. If your plane is delayed for a long time, find a bathroom in a different terminal – ideally arrived at by a tram, train or long people mover, all of which are always entertaining for little ones. For that matter, up and down the escalator you go!

More great ideas from more traveling families:


Andy said...

Wish I would have read this before our last trip to the Caribbean. We had a LOOONG layover in MIA (almost 8 hours). We took as long as we could to eat in a very expensive (read: overpriced) restaurant. Then slowly made our way to the assigned gate area and camped out. I ended up chasing kids for the next several hours. The one sip tip would have made it a bit more tolerable. Maybe throw in a one drink airport bar golf for the adults. Ah, on second thought maybe not ;-)

cheap flights to Sao Paulo said...

Thanks for the information..I really like your post its informative..I had a worst experience..
We travelled back from Rome, Italy to San Jose CA and had every conceivable delay. Computers at check-in in Rome were down. All flights delayed 2 hours. One guy almost got in a fight with another while waiting in line. A cop (perched on top of a kiosk) w/ an Uzi quelled that fight pretty quick. When we got to JFK, the computer's were down in customs. Took about 3 out of our 4 hours of layover in JFK to make it to the San Jose gate. Only reason we made it that fast to our gate is that they let everybody with toddler's and babies (we had our 1-year old son w/us) go to the front of the line. By the time we left the gate, we hit the Europe flight rush hour at JFK (25 planes in front of us on runway). Finally made it to San Jose but the arm that connects the plane to the terminal wasn't working so we had to park at another gate (no big deal compared to other delays but still added another 15 minutes).

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