The days of long layovers where you sit back, enjoy a latte, and lose yourself in a good book seem to disappear after you have kids. Layovers are a lot more work when you now have to entertain little ones. In fact, after having kids I try to avoid layovers as much as possible, but sometimes they can’t be avoided. Here are 10 tips for how I survive a layover:
- GateGuru App– As I learned in elementary school, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance!” Especially when traveling with kids, it is important to plan your layovers. This app shows you maps of terminals and tells you about the airport’s restaurants and amenities. The app gives real-time flight statuses and even checks the weather at the airport. It has terminal and gate arrival and departure information and even estimates TSA security wait times. It can be your all-knowing best friend when traveling.
- Plan to eat a meal. Depending on what time your layover is, food is always a good way to waste time. I’d rather sit down at a restaurant and eat a meal and then just have a snack on the plane. I actually hate eating meals on planes. It’s so crowded and I don’t even have to tell you how unappetizing airplane food can be. If you don’t have time for a full meal, find somewhere to sit and have an ice cream or some dessert. (And cocktails…did I mention cocktails?)
- Download movies. Who doesn’t love a good movie? I download ITunes movies because they are available for 24 hours after you press play. That way, if you need to pause it, you can watch the rest of it later.
- Netflix app/ Xfinity app: Along with downloading movies, my family likes to watch television shows. Most are only 30-50 minutes long so it isn’t a big commitment. We use our Netflix subscription as well as our Xfinity app. I especially like that the Xfinity app allows us to watch shows we’ve recorded on our DVR. However, if you are overseas these may not work. I was so sad in Portugal when I realized I couldn’t watch Grey’s Anatomy.
- Download new games. Download some new games onto their electronics and put them in a folder labeled “layover.” They can only play them while at the airport. For a change of pace, have siblings choose games for each other. When they get bored with those games they can swap their electronics and have all new games to entertain them.
- Play easy games. Pack easy games the entire family can play. A deck of cards or a book of MadLibs are always a safe bet. We also love the app Heads Up. It is like an electronic version of Headbands. On our last flight we played it for over an hour while we were waiting for our plane.
- Time for a good book. Is there anything better than a good book? I like to surprise my girls by getting them books they’ve been wanting. I keep old Scholastic book order forms that they’ve circled books they like.
- Get some energy out. When kids have to sit down for hours at a time, they need to move around and get the wiggles out. Plus, it’s not good for anyone to sit for too long. Get your blood pumping by walking around the airport. It doesn’t matter where you’re going…just get moving!
- Traveling during school? This is the perfect time to get some work done. Don’t let your kids read this because they aren’t going to like this. When traveling during school, they’ll probably get some make-up work to do. Why put it off until you’re sitting in paradise when you could get it over with at an airport? Work now so you can play later!
- Leave the airport. Full disclosure, I’ve never left an airport. I’m too paranoid that I would miss my next flight, but several people I know have done it. Can you go to a nearby attraction? Is there a good local restaurant? The amount of time you have on your layover as well as the location of the airport will determine if you can leave.
What tips do you have for surviving layovers with kids?