Â Traveling With Kids: Airport Time
Here are 14 suggestions:
1) Get those little legs moving! Burn some energy and walk through the terminal. Do circles in the terminal and devote some attention to your child. Use the Two In One Harness Buddy to keep those toddlers close while allowing them some much needed independence.
Point out new sites and sounds – the airport is filled with them!
2)Airplanes and baggage handlers and ramps and jetways are great- free, moving entertainment right out the window in front of your gate! Explain to your child what they are seeing and involve them with the flight process.
This is great for when you need to stay close to your gate around boarding time and yet something is needed to occupy them.
3) Stock up on any needed beverages and snacks. Although I recommend packing healthy snacks from home, there are times when allowing a child to pick out one snack at the airport store can be worth the excitement of the child. Due to TSA rules, beverages such as water need to be purchased once past security. (I use the water to dilute any juice that I bring along. No need to add more sugar to a busy day.)
4) Check and double check your flight information on the airport computer screens to confirm if there has been a gate change or change in departure time. Point out to your child what you are looking at and how it affects your flight.
5) Check ahead of time to see if there are any play areas in the airport.
Some airports are becoming more family friendly.
Only use these play areas if you have plenty of time to return to your gate.
It is a good idea to wash those small hands after playing on any play equipment and touching things in the airport.
6) Pack a soft, small ball and find a deserted gate area and interact with your child in play.
7) Make sure that diapers are changed, PJs put on for night flights, and your bag is stocked well for the coming flight.
Use time in airports to change kids when possible instead of on the flight. Airplane bathrooms are tiny and can be
disgusting; avoid them if possible!
8 ) Check out the book, “Stuck At the Airport” by Harriet Baskas.
She is also the author of the weekly Well Mannered Traveler column for MSNBC.com. On two recent trips I really appreciated this book. Without going into a full review here, I will just say that this book allows you to get the most out of your time in any airport! With useful information
such as the cleanest bathrooms to the quiet areas of the airport, or where you can find the “better” restaurants and healthiest food, “Stuck at the Airport” is a useful tool!
9) Talk to your older child about different destinations listed on the screens or about the many different cultures that
can be observed in an airport. Guess where other passengers are headed and why, making up stories along the way. Make small talk with someone who lives a world away from your family. Your children will learn a lot from observing your behavior.
10) Still talking about an older child: make a list of scavenger hunt items and play a people observing game. Things like red shoes, a baby bottle, and a blue backpack all of a sudden contribute to your entertainment! Accompany your child; obviously do not let them wander through the airport on their own.
11) Check out the airport stores for children’s books and toys. Many airports now have kids sections and some are dedicated to toy airplanes and airports.
12) Spend a few minutes before the hectic boarding time just holding your child in your lap or sit next to them and talk quietly to them. Tell them a story or talk about the sequence of events that will happen next. My son and I always point out the ticket agent and he gets to hand his boarding pass to the agent as we board. Those few quiet moments are
critical to calm a child down before boarding the plane.
13) Eat a healthy meal. Be creative and avoid the junk. In this photo you can see that a toddler friendly meal was not on the menu, but easily found by asking for some salad bar sides in addition to the scrambled eggs. Make sure that the food is fresh and the restaurant is busy (food has not been sitting around).
14) As stated in Jet With Kids, you know your child best and what keeps them entertained and happy. One tip from this book is to not rely on the airports or airlines for food or necessary supplies for your child. Remember that airport store employees are not going to know (or necessarily care) if you are running late for a flight. Take stock of your carry on needs early on and do not chance missing your flight while standing in line to purchase items.
Try to be as active as possible in the airport since it is loud and there is lots of room. Do not forget to have basic respect for others and avoid places where people are needing to get work done, having a phone conversation, or just wanting some rest. Use the airport time as time to burn off all of that nervous energy, any tension left over from the drive there and getting through security. The enclosed cabin space in the airplane is when those toys and books should be used as well as quiet story time. While in the airport, load up the stroller with your belongings, put baby in the Ergo Baby Carrier and toddler in the Two In One Harness Buddy and explore that airport!
Additional Airport Resources:
Airport Preparation Tools: http://www.jetwithkids.com/product_preparation_tools.html
World Airport Guide: http://www.worldairportguide.com/
Expedia Airport Guide: http://www.expedia.com/daily/airports/
Airport time when traveling with kids can be fun, educational, and a great time to bond with the family.