Layovers are often a stressful experience for parents traveling with their children, but with a little preparation they can be a fun and enjoyable part of the journey. Whether your layover is a quick stop or a long wait, there are many ways to keep the kids entertained and make the most of your time in transit. Here are some fun ideas to help make your layover experience easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
A classic way to pass the time, games can be a great way to keep kids occupied during a layover. Bring along a deck of cards or a portable board game like checkers or tic-tac-toe. You can also play word games like "I Spy" or "20 Questions." If they already have it, the Nintendo Switch gaming console is designed to be packed up and played on the go (including a built in kickstand on the screen), so your kids can play all their favorite cooperative or competitive games like Super Mario Party or Mario Kart anywhere you go, just be sure to bring enough controllers and the charging cable to keep it fully charged.
Watch a Movie
Most airports have areas with TV screens, offer free Wi-Fi, or at worst have paid-for Wi-Fi. Stream a movie or show on your tablet or laptop, or come prepared with their latest fixation already downloaded and ready to watch without an internet connection. Before you pack up, make sure that your devices are authorized to play outside your home Wi-Fi network, as some streaming services may limit where you can log in to your account. If your laptop or tablet has a headphone jack, bring a splitter and cord extensions for your kids to sit comfortably while watching, or pack some new Bluetooth headphones to eliminate tangles altogether.
Visit the Airport's Play Area
Many airports have play areas for kids, complete with toys and games. This is a great way for kids to burn off some energy and have fun, but not every airport has one. Before you leave, check if your layover airport has a play area your child will enjoy, as some feature massive airplane themed tunnels and slides while others have just a couple of kids-sized desks and donated children’s books.
Do Some Arts and Crafts
Encourage your kids to get creative by bringing along a coloring book, markers, or crayons. You can also bring along some paper and stickers to create a scrapbook of your trip. You can also get some adult coloring books to make it a whole family activity and show off what everyone was able to create during the layover.
Take a Walk
As long as you aren’t stepping off one plane and directly boarding the next, take some time to explore this new airport. Find the gate for your next flight and park your partner with the bags at the gate while you take the kids, or just mentally note where you need to be and journey through the terminal together. Check out a map of the airport and look at the different shops and restaurants you might want to walk through or have a snack. Stretching your legs on a walk is good for adults after sitting for an extended period of time, but it’s even better to tire out your children before they’re cooped up again in a couple hours.
Read a Book
If your kids are big readers, encourage them to get lost in a good book. Bring along a favorite book from home or visit the airport's bookshop and buy a new one. Terminals are always busy and bustling, but if you have time you should scope out a quieter gate with plenty of space to spread out and enjoy your books in peace. Otherwise, the food court is usually a good spot to find something like a booth to cozy up in and start reading.
Enjoy a Treat
Treat your kids to a sweet or savory snack, keeping in mind air sickness of course. Airport’s will often have familiar fast foods to fall back on like Burger Kind or Pizza Hut, but you can also visit one of the airport's restaurants and try some local cuisine or an airport-version of a local chain.
Layovers don't have to be a stressful experience for families traveling with kids. By taking the time to prepare for your layover, you can help make the experience easier and manageable for everyone. Whether you choose to play games, watch a movie, or explore the airport, there are many fun ways to keep kids entertained and distracted. So pack your bags and get ready for a fun and memorable trip!