10 Tips for Handling a Long Layover With Kids
Travelling with the kids? Here are ten ways to actually enjoy your family's next layover - no matter where it is
26 December 2019
Layovers can be a drag...
Especially when you're travelling with kids. The thought of sitting around in an airport for endless hours when you just want to get from point A to point B may feel like a waste of time, more so when a fun vacation is waiting for you on the other side. Children will feel excited about boarding a flight, with many becoming restless and agitated during a layover.
Even still, layovers can be beneficial as opting for multiple flights rather than a direct trip cuts costs - flying with family can get quite pricey. As long as you keep an open mindset, research into your layover destination, and plan before your flight, you won't have to spend dreadful hours watching the clock to wait for the real vacation to start.
So go ahead, momma. Book that cheap flight because here are 10 ways to survive a layover with kids so you can make the most of every minute of your family getaway.
1. Check into a short-stay
If you have plenty of time and you're able to enter the country you have a layover in, it's recommended you check into a short-stay accommodation such as a hotel nearby or the airport's own hotel to relax.
Air travel can easily tire you out due to lower oxygen, cabin pressure, dehydration, and elevation. Access to a comfortable place where you and the kids can nap, sleep, and take a refreshing shower can do a lot to ward off exhaustion.
2. Treat your child to something nice
Most airports offer a wide range of duty-free shopping options with foods, drinks, toys, clothes, accessories, electronics, etc. at a much lower price. If your kid has been eying and begging for a particular toy, book, electronic, or accessory lately, the duty-free shopping is a great place to save big bucks on their dream purchase.
You can also treat yourself to certain indulgences and luxuries, like a delicious dessert, your own pick of duty-free shopping, or a glass of wine.
3. Explore the airport
Some airports may have some activities, exhibits, or installations that can catch your child's attention and keep them entertained or busy during a layover.
Try researching into the layover airport to see if you might stumble across some retail choices or fun activities to pass the time, such as a movie theatre at Changi International Airport in Singapore, explore the planetarium and museum at Zurich Airport, or enjoy the skating rink at Incheon Airport in South Korea.
4. Pack some games
Playing a game together can help in elevating travel stress and boredom.
Pack one or two travel-sized board/card games in the carry-on luggage, such as Yahtzee and UNO. If you happen to spot another child who's also waiting during a layover, invite him or her to join in on the fun and let your kid socialise. They might even make a pen pal!
5. Explore the local scene
Make the most of yours and your child's time in your layover destination by checking out what the locale has to offer. Try to look into popular places, restaurants, activities, and other things to do outside the airport to save time.
It's worth remembering that you will likely need to go through airport security again, so if you plan to go outside and explore and shop, your carry-on's weight should not tilt over the maximum baggage allowance.
6. Eat and drink
It's so easy to not drink enough water during travels. Have your kid sip on water during a layover to keep them from dehydrating, and try packing their favourite goodies and substantial snacks, like sandwiches, biscuits, fruits, and veggies. You'll want to avoid sugary snacks.
Most airports offer a wide array of dining options, so you'll likely find a great spot for a proper sit-down meal. While eating, it's nice to chat with your kid about the trip, what's going on at school, what's happening with their friends, etc. Talking with your child during a meal does not only fill in the time during a layover, but often makes them happy to know their mum is interested.
7. Pack what your child likes
If your child doesn't have his or her separate carry-on, you'll want to pack your own bag with things your kid needs and enjoys. This typically includes:
- Snacks and drinks
- Neck pillow and small blanket - great for naps at the airport and in the flight
- Colouring sheets, crayons, coloured pencils, etc.
- Small toys, such as cars, animal toys, and dolls
- Card games
- Travel-friendly board games
8. Change clothes
Changing clothes during a layover allows children to feel more comfortable. Travelling and moving in the same clothes for hours is a subtle contribution to layover stress, exhaustion, and agitation.
If the layover happens during the night, try packing your kid's sleepwear as these are familiar and comfortable clothes for them. Add a travel-sized blanket and neck pillow, and your child can take a nap while waiting.
9. Walk around the airport
When your child is not napping, playing, or reading, take frequent walks around the airport. Children typically don't enjoy sitting still in one place, more so after they've been sitting on a previous flight for hours.
In the time you're waiting before hopping on another airplane, walk around with the kids - to the convenience store, nearest washroom, etc. - to get their feet moving. Try turning it into an airport scavenger hunt where you and your child have to try and walk around the airport to find the listed items.
10. Allocate some screen time
Screen time is absolutely worth it as an electronic babysitter during an airport layover. Avoid letting your child use your phone, tablet, hand-held console, and other electronic devices during a flight, as by the same you land they'll likely be too fed up to continue enjoying screentime.
It helps keep them distracted, entertained, and occupied while mum enjoys her own break.