We’ve had our share of layovers and I like to think we’ve become good at them. Gone are the days where we sit for 6 hours in an airport seat staring at the gate, waiting for the airline staff to announce boarding.
In Shanghai, China we booked a hotel for our 10-hour layover and slept like babies before continuing onto LA refreshed the next morning.
In Istanbul we managed to locate a premium lounge for a couple of quid that provided us with all you can eat and drink and Wi-Fi. Plus some pretty comfy seats to for the kids to sleep on.
And when we can, we try to turn layovers into a week-long vacation rather than an hour-long stepping stone, and enjoy the intermediate destination, like we did in Dubai or Warsaw.
Recently we found this infographic by Corporate Travelleron how to spend your time on a layover. It’s pretty accurate for the solo or couple traveller.
But what about kids? What do you do for those hours in the airport with children?
Same rules apply to kids as to adults. Fill up their little tummies with Burger King or the business lounge buffet or something else… preferably something that takes a long time... or a short time if you are running behind schedule.
Singapore is one of the best airports in the world for families. It features a beautiful butterfly garden, a playground and an entertainment with TVs and video games for older kids. Also check out the family zone, koi pond, movie theatre, swimming pool and more.
Hong Kong has a playground, as does Heathrow, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Auckland, Las Vegas, Chicago, Perth and Sydney. In fact you will find playgrounds in more and more airports as they better cater to family travellers. But be aware, they are often tucked away in an underutilised corner so be sure to locate an information booth to get the low down on the play down.
Kids love new places so instead of rushing your way to your gate to just sit, explore this new land. Let their little legs take you wherever they want. For slightly older kids show them how to read signs and get to where they need to go.
A last resort is bringing out the electronics. You are going to be really tempted to do this right at the beginning, especially if everyone is tired, but resist. This is the perfect activity on the plane so run, jump, play and eat… and then when all else fails turn to the iSitter (iPad).
If you really need to resort to electronics why not consider making a video with the iPhone in the airport or practise taking some photos before deciding on a movie or games.
If you have enough time try and let the kids get some sleep. In a lounge, on the floor, in a hotel, on your lap. Nothing passes the time like sleeping and this goes for airports, so make sure you set an alarm!
What are some of your best secrets for airport layovers? Do you like the longer ones or the shorter ones? Have you found an airport that stands out as the best place for family travel?