Saturday, February 19, 2011

Traveling with kids: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

Apart from Arlanda Airport, Schiphol is the airport I've traveled through most often, both with and without kids. The simple reason for this is that KLM usually offers pretty good deals from Vancouver to Sweden. Not that I mind really, because Schiphol is a very nice airport.

Getting around
One of the great things about Schiphol when you're traveling with kids is that pretty much all the gates are located on one level, in one building. The layout of the airport, one central hub with "piers" radiating out from that hub, also makes it pretty easy to find your way around.

It's a massive building to be sure, and it can take quite a while to get from where you arrive to where your next flight is departing from, but as long as your child keeps walking (or running), and you can steer them in the right general direction, getting through this airport is quite easy. And if your child is in a stroller or carrier, you can just hike along to your gate without having to deal with buses or trains to take you to another terminal.

Shops and restaurants
There are lots of shops and restaurants in this airport, especially in the central hub, including a pharmacy, book stores, convenience stores, and the usual glut of tax free shops. If you need diapers, snacks or food for the kids you should be able to find it inside Schiphol.

A lot of the eateries in this airport seem mainly geared to adults, and many offer bar-stool seating that isn't really great for kids. However, there are also many places that sell sandwiches and lighter meals and snacks to grab and go. When I've traveled through here with the kids, we've usually just sat down near our departure gate with some sandwiches, maybe some yogurt, a bottle of juice and various other snacks rather than going to one of the restaurants.

Facilities for kids
There is a play area called Kids Forest, located between piers E and F if you have some time to kill between flights and your kids are going squirrely with boredom.

A new facility that I have not yet seen myself, is Schiphol's baby care lounge. I hope to check it out on a future trip, even though I don't have any babies of my own anymore, because it sounds like an awesome facility for families traveling with infants. To quote the airport's website:
The 'Babycare Lounge by Nutricia' was recently opened in the Terminal. In the Babycare Lounge parents can take care of their babies (in private), bathe them, feed them and/or allow them to sleep for a while in one of the seven bed cabins, which include comfortable seats for the parents.

In the hectic airport environment, the Babycare Lounge is a haven of peace and quiet where parents can get their breath back while their babies are comfortably asleep or playing.
What a great idea. I hope more airports follow suit with similar lounges.

Other useful facilities at Schiphol include showers, and a hotel called Yotel, which features very small rooms for a cheaper price than regular hotels in case travelers want to get some sleep in a real bed between flights.

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