Thursday, January 20, 2011

What to do at the airport when traveling with kids

Depending on the circumstances, family travel time spent in airports may be only marginally less stressful than the time spent on board airplanes.

If you’re transferring to another flight you may have barely enough time to find the next gate. On the other hand, if there’s a delay or just a long scheduled wait before your next flight, you may have hours to kill in a place where there is not a lot for your children to do. Both situations can be taxing for you and your kids.

Better than TV.
Some airports (though not enough of them) do have good play-areas and they can be invaluable if you have a lot of time to kill before or between flights.

Bathroom breaks
If your child is anything like mine, then when they say they need to go, they’re in a hurry. And if your luck is anything like mine, this will happen when you’re waiting to board your plane, when you’re in the security lineup, or when you’re having your hand-luggage x-rayed. In those situations it isn’t always easy or even possible to find a bathroom.

That’s why I highly recommend keeping an eye out for bathrooms at all times, and to hustle your children into one when you do have the time and you think they may be due for a visit. 

Keeping safe
Keep an eye on your children at all times. Yes, it’s obvious advice, but there are so many ways for children to get into big trouble at an airport. There are security zones, security guards, no-enter areas, conveyor belts, electric cars, heavy luggage carts, alarmed doors… you get the idea. Keep them close to keep them safe.

Be ready for delays. With all the security measures in place today, getting around an airport even under normal circumstances can take a long time. Long lineups can form everywhere: at check in counters, at various passport, security and immigration checkpoints and at the gate. Add any other kind of delay because of volcanoes, terrorism, weather or mechanical problems and you may be in for a trip that’s a lot longer than you planned.

You can’t control these things so just come prepared and bring extra supplies of diapers, formula and snacks, just in case.

At the gate
Families with children are usually allowed to board the airplane before other passengers, so be ready for that and grab the opportunity when it’s offered!

Read more about flying with kids:

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