Nobody likes the idea of flying long-haul and then having a long stopover at an airport in a far flung country. When you have children, the scenario feels a hundred times worse. With excess energy to burn off, short attention spans and zero inhibitions to cry, scream or kick souvenir stands – stopping over at an airport with young children may feel like an endurance test.
We needed some advice, so we spoke to Travelbag, the holiday experts and found out the best ways to make life on a long haul flight easier for everyone.
- Plan your stop over down to the minute
Get an idea of where everything is at the airport you’re stopping over at. This means having an idea of where the toilets are, the restaurants are, the hotels are and anything else you need to know. It also helps that you organise priority with getting off the plane and getting back on when you board your next flight.
- Treat your family to food of their choice
If your kids have their hearts set on massive blow out at the airport’s Shake Shack or Krispy Creme – let them have it. Keep reminding them of the treat, let them work out what they’re going to order beforehand – and basically used the burgers and doughnuts as a massive carrot on a stick to behave on the way there.
- Organise an airport scavenger hunt
Younger kids will love the idea of an airport scavenger hunt as you wait to board your next plane. There are plenty of printouts you can get online for young ones to work on. These all display things for your kids to find – stop signs, luggage logos, traffic cones, mop buckets, fern plants, no smoking signs, national flags. Hunting these will keep kids quiet while you plan your next move.
- Book a hotel room
When you land in the evening, do yourself a favour and book a hotel room. This will be a lifesaver if your flight isn’t until the next day, and will give you all a good night’s sleep. Airport hotels are normally soundproof, very comfortable and you can organise a wake up call from reception to get you to where you all need to be on time.
- Plan a visit to a local sight
If you’ve got time on your hands, get out of the airport and have a look around. If you’ve got friends who live in that particular city, get them to meet you. Or, go and see a local landmark – the Burj Khalifa is about a 15 minute drive from Dubai airport, for example. This will give your children something to do, a taste of the local culture and let them burn some energy off before your next flight.
- Run around
Airports are generally massive, and while they look fairly uninspiring to grown ups, they are adventure playgrounds to little ones. Long empty corridors, rows of seats, pillars to run around – loosen up and let your kids run free. As long as you can keep your eye on them, and they are not causing trouble – it’s all good.