Imagine it’s your birthday. You woke up at 4AM to get on a flight for a family vacation. You arrive at the airport, ready to go, get on the plane, are all seat belted in, kids and all, and then the pilot comes on the PA to announce that you can’t leave, your flight is cancelled. The airport is a mess there was a plane crash the day before and the airport is down one runway. You get off the plane and get in the long customer service line to find out what is the next plane you can get on. TBD. There are a few more flights leaving that morning, but no telling which will have space for your family. Check back in a few hours. All the while, your 2 year old is whining, tired, and cranky. Worst birthday ever? It actually turned out OK. We rode the air train to different terminals, browsed the airport museum, ate cupcakes (it was my birthday after all) and 7 hours later got on a new flight for our destination. Yes, true story of my 2013 birthday. As a parent travel with kids can be hard, there is nothing worse than hearing “your flight is delayed”. Entertaining kids at an airport is not easy, depending on how long your delay is, it can be torturous. Here are my top 10 tips for entertaining kids at an airport to make those delays fly by and actually make airplane travel with kids fun.
As I prepare for our next trip (18 hours of flying, eek!), I am reminded of how far we have come from being the “best behaved kid on the plane” to the self declared worst passenger on the plane and then back to somewhere in between. When traveling with big D when he was little, people would come up to us in the airport after plane rides and tell us they had never seen such a well behaved kid. (I kid you not.) Even after an overseas flight to Paris with a 16 month old, we were receiving congratulations from other passengers on what a great traveler he was. So it was quite a fall from grace, when after a five hour flight to Hawaii with big D and Tater Tot in September, we were asked “is he always like this?” (referring to Tater Tot’s plane antics).
How do you keep your little ones busy on the plane? Particularly lap infants? Big D has always been a great traveler, starting when he was little. A couple of books, some snacks, crayons, and Play-Doh and we were all set for any plane flight from 1 hour to 12 hours.
When Tater Tot came along, for our first flight as a moving toddler (9 months) I packed our carry-on the same way. The only thing I forgot was that he is a much more active kid and would only want to run up and down the aisles, ignoring all the carefully packed books, snacks, and crayons; good thing it was only a one hour flight to Seattle. On our next flight (5 hours to Hawaii), I packed everything I could think of from post-its to books to silly putty to annoying electronic gadgets and so much more.