The earlier you get your kids into the habit of flying, the less risk there is of them developing phobias that prevent them from leaving the country. Taking a baby on a plane, for instance, is a fantastic way to acclimatize them to the experience before they know it’s something to fear. Equally, semi-regular flights throughout childhood should become such a standard that your older youngsters don’t bat an eye for even long-haul flights.
As any parent who’s tried will already know, though, flying with youngsters is far from easy. Even if you’ve managed to knock fear on the head, boredom can inevitably rear its ugly head when you ask your kids to sit down for longer periods than they’re used to. Hence why finding ways to keep them entertained on the flight is vital for your sanity and that of everyone else in your cabin. But, you’ve already considered that. What you might not have thought about is the wait in the airport itself.
The entire airport process of your trip is an often-overlooked feature, yet failure to consider how you’ll keep your kids entertained at this stage could see them already suffering from boredom when the time comes to board. That’s no way to the flight-long mentality you’re aiming towards, especially not when you consider that the need to arrive early and perhaps face delays could see you waiting around for extended periods.
Make sure this doesn’t become the sting in the tail of your trip by considering the following tips to ensure your vacation gets off to a flying start, even before that plane is insight.
Don’t arrive before you have to
Guidelines typically state that you should arrive two hours before your flight is due to leave, yet many of us let fear or just plain excitement push that to three or even four hours. If you’ve got kids, though, turning up at the airport a few hours before you can even check-in is asking for trouble. Worse, you’ll be stuck out in the boring airport lobby for goodness knows how long!
The key takeaway here is that you should never arrive before you have to. That doesn’t mean you need to cut things fine and stress yourself out, of course. Instead, aim to arrive at around that two-hour mark, which is likely when your boarding gate will open anyway. Then, by the time you’ve checked in, gone through security, etc. you’ll likely only have an hour or less to kill before it’s time to get on that flight. That’s a timeframe that even your kids will struggle to get bored within!
Consider airport entertainment, too
Any well-traveled parent knows the importance of packing an airplane entertainment kit for the kids, but you might also benefit from doing the same in the airport. You’ll want to keep these fun bits separate from what you pack for the flight, of course, but investing in some activities that will keep everyone amused even in the case of last-minute delays is always a good idea, and there are plenty of options to make the most of here. Card games could see you all getting in the communal spirit while fill-in puzzle books keep you entertained. Even better, you’ll all be able to get stuck into the games here, ensuring that you can all have fun as a group before the more quiet environment of the plane.
All you need to do is stock up on a few essentials ahead of time, and be sure to keep them in your hand luggage so that you have them within easy reach. If possible, present these fun bits one at a time to keep the entertainment coming, and distract your kids from even thinking about the passing time.
Always eat at the airport
Airport restaurants typically charge a small fortune, which is why most of us prefer to eat before we get there. But, trust us when we say that those costs will seem like a small price to pay for the distraction that airport eating can bring.
Whether you head to a fast-food chain once you arrive, or go to one of the airport’s sit-down restaurants, you could pass an hour or more with this alone. Admittedly, those tables can get filled pretty quickly, so you’ll want to make sure that you leave ample time for this if you do intend to take this route. But, if you’ve got two hours or more to kill before you set off, a sit-down meal could be just the thing. By the time you’ve chosen, ordered, and eaten, you may even find that it’s time to head off, without your kids once having had the chance to complain about there being nothing much to do!
Give the kids some spending money
Along the same lines, it’s worth making the most of the shopping opportunities on offer in the majority of airports. As well as having the benefit of being duty-free, airport spending is the ideal way to pass a little dead time.
You won’t want to go mad here, of course, especially considering you’ll need to carry those airport buys onto the plane with you. But, giving your kids a modest amount of spending money each could be the ideal way to keep them amused, and even give them a last-minute chance to stock up on goodies for the flight.
Whether they buy snacks, books, or brand new games, the act of finding what they fancy alone is guaranteed to take up the hour or more you have to kill here. Not to mention that you could find these purchases provide them with amusement for your entire vacation/journey, a benefit that no parent should ever sniff at!
Take a seat by the window
Even if you have a little time to kill after implementing all of the above, taking a seat by the window could be a fantastic last resort. This won’t always be possible, of course, but the majority of airports have some pretty spectacular window views if you know where to look for them.
As long as it isn’t too far from your boarding gate, taking a seat next to one of these could be another fantastic way to pass the time for you and the kids! After all, watching flights take off and land never seems to get old, and it could be the ideal prep for really getting you all in that holiday mood.
This will prove especially useful if you take the time to point things out for your kids about the different types of planes, the people working on the runway, and all that fun stuff. You may even find that this time-killing exercise becomes educational if you do your research ahead of time!
A final word
Killing time in an airport is rarely an easy goal, and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in dreading the chants of ‘I’m bored’ from your kids. You haven’t even set off at this stage, after all, and the last thing you want to do is deal with impatience already!
As you can see from these pointers, though, there are things you can do to avoid the onslaught simply by making allowances for the airport the way you already do with flights. And, of course, getting your timings just right guarantees there’s less time for trouble to arise.
As simple as that, you can all jet off with excitement rather than irritation, and finally enjoy your family trip to its fullest!