10 Airport Tips with Kids
1. Arrive early
We always get to the airport earlier than we need to and on more than one occasion it has proven to be worth it. From the not-always-so-convenient, long-term car park to the overweight suitcase, there is almost always something unexpected that happens when traveling. And, for those rare days that go smooth sailing, you can get your coffee and enjoy the airport with the kids. When possible check ahead to see if the airport has any children play areas.
2. Prepare the kids
It’s easy to take for granted the airport and the process of getting through it. Talk through the different stages of the airport with your child even if they have travelled before. Talk about check-in and why we hand over our suitcases and how they get to the plane.” What will happen when we go through security and possibly passport control. The airport can be an exciting and bustling place, but children will benefit from this chat before you get there and while you’re there.
3. Airport security liquid bags
Bag your liquids ahead of time- at home. Put them in an easy to reach location. Put all baby milk, formula, and food in one location, so you can easily show staff. Simplify what you bring as well. It’s a fine line between packing what you need for all occasions and over-packing. See here for packing tips. See here USA TSA travel advice.
4. Airport security family order
We go through airport security as a family sandwich. One adult leads, usually me. I set my backpack first and then my purse. The children each set their own things on the conveyor. I go through the security gate and then each of my kids follows with my husband being last. My husband is the one who usually carries the laptops and tablets, so this also gives him extra time to take everything out. If am travelling alone with the kids, then my eldest daughter goes first. Keep little kids occupied and close to you by telling them to look for and point to their bag. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from staff, if you need it. I have had staff help me with opening up the pram when I was traveling alone.
5. Stay Calm
Do your best to stay calm and breathe especially when going through airport security. Getting to the airport early usually means having time to calmly go through security. Sometimes there are also special lines dedicated to families. Airport security is often filled with lots of people and noise. It can be overwhelming to some children (and adults), so smile and patiently explain what is happening.
6. Toilet break
30 minutes before the flight we all do a toilet check. With babies and toddlers this would be when we would do a diaper/nappy change and possibly put an overnight pullup on if they are going to sleep and sketchy on the night training. Personally, if your child is not completely trained, then just put pull ups on them for the whole flight. Even if you are in the middle of toilet training, you can still bring them to the toilet for their checks on the plane, but it just means less stress while you’re traveling. Remember you want to keep things as simple and easy as possible for the whole family.
Don’t overfeed the kids and limit juices and other sloshy drinks right before the flight. This is especially important if your child is prone to travel sickness. By all means, give them some water and light food like crackers and bread. And, bring children’s travel sickness tablets with you on the plane. You can buy them in pharmacies and most airports have a pharmacy in case you forget.
Pack your chargers in your carry on as most airports have powerpoints. They also usually have free wifi these days too. If your kids get too narky, you have games and movie options.
9. Window Shop
If you have a long layover then go and window shop, after you have found and confirmed your gate though. Then, take a walk with the kids and enjoy. Occasionally, we allow the girls to purchase a magazine from the newsagent/bookstore. This is something fun for them to do and helps the time pass by. We don’t usually tell them ahead of time, because you have to judge moment by moment. If they are cranky and tired, it’s usually better not to enter a shop.
Traveling with children can be exhausting, do your best to pack ahead of time and get a decent night’s sleep the day before you go. Remember, travel days don’t usually last longer for a day, so focus on the fun and adventure of it. If possible try to make your first day at your destination, a day filled with light activity so that you can all recuperate. Do this even if it’s a short flight, but especially if it’s a long flight.