PlayAreaWhoever said “the journey is more important than the destination” didn’t have a toddler in tow. A layover can be painfully boring to even the happiest, most experienced traveler.  Throw a cranky toddler with the wiggles in the mix and it’d have Mary Poppins running for the nearest bar. 

That’s why I’ve come up with some tips to help pass the time (hopefully) a little easier should you be faced with a layover with your toddler…

  • Business first.  Use the restroom, change the diaper, grab a snack, and find your next flight gate.
  • Check out the airport map and see if there is a children’s play area.  Airport planners have finally realized that not only does a play area help get the wiggles out before boarding the next flight, it also takes the sting out of long layovers – which translates to happier passengers in the long run.  Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco International, Seattle-Tacoma International, and at least 30 other US airports are designing play areas just for these reasons.Restaurantpic
  • Take a walk around the airport and be creative.  Come up with a scavenger hunt to find things like, the water fountain, the restroom, a magazine or newspaper stand, etc.  Or maybe you’ll find another set of parents dealing with the same thing with their toddler.  Create a safe zone (away from high-traffic) and introduce the children and let them play and be silly together.  In the long run it could turn into a newfound friendship.
  • Play eye-spy.  “Eye-spy something yellow with flowers on it”, etc.  This is always a great game to play anytime your little one is starting to get antsy.
  • Consider buying a Trunki before traveling.  A suitcase that doubles as a ride-on toy.
  • Research the airport of your layover.  Find out what restaurants are available, shops, and/or activities.  Some airports have theatres, museums, and other attractions to help pass the time.
  • Depending on the length of the layover, take the time to get out and explore or try a day stay.  Meet new people and see new things.  Take into consideration that you may have to go through security more than once.  Stay within a comfortable radius and know a quick/easy way back.  Afterall, it would be a little embarrassing to miss your flight because you took some extra time to play outside airport grounds.
  • If all else fails: open up that emergency “bag of tricks” you were saving in case they starting squealing on the plane.  You just may have to purchase a few new things for the next flight at the airport store.
  • And lastly, check with one of your airline’s ticket agents at the layover airport to see if there’s enough room on another flight that will be leaving sooner than yours is.  They may have had a last minute cancellation that could squeeze you on.

By the time you’ve done some (or heaven forbid) all of these things, I hope that your gate agent will be calling your flight to board and you can finally take that deep sigh of relief.

Disclosure:  The child pictured above is mine.  To the best of my knowledge anyway.
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Amanda is a freelance writer and blog owner of “The Procrastinating Mommy” – a PR friendly personal blog detailing her day-to-day struggles as a SAHM of 2 boys – just trying to maintain her sanity and sense of humor. Follow her on Twitter for more tips and techniques on traveling with a toddler as well as her personal rants and raves: @Amanda_AKA_Mom