IsaacZeldasubwayCan two children under the age of ten navigate Denver International Airport?  More specifically, could they get from the plane to baggage claim and then to the car rental bus?  (Can they rent the car?)  Are we the only people who’ve tried this?

My family went to Boulder over the New Year’s break and flew into Denver International Airport.  Our kids are seven and almost nine. My husband and I like the idea that our kids are becoming independent people (make your own lunch, kids!) and know that in order to get them to the next level, they have to be given opportunities to flex their independence, curiosity and problem solving skills.

My husband and I decided to do the following experiment: 
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So they got us to the moving sidewalk.  Truth: they would have taken the moving sidewalk, even if it was the wrong way to go.  What kid can resist the moving sidewalk?  (Running on the moving sidewalk?)
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They knew we had to go down to take the subway to the main terminal to get our bags.  Because the Denver International Airport train makes the whole shebang worth the price of admission.
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And when you get on the train, be sure to sit in front.  Those are the best seats.  Just ask my kids who assertively (be positive!) got to the seats before anyone else.
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So, even though we kept telling them to look up at the signs, it was like the signs were invisible.  They kept looking for… our bags?  Someone to tell us where our bags were?  They missed this sign:baggageclaimdenverinternationalBut once we pointed it out to them, they told us, “We’re here!” To be a little tricky, our baggage carousel was changed after waiting in front of Bag Claim 6 for fifteen minutes. A teachable moment.

Mercifully, all our bags came out quickly and we were on our way to the rental car busses.
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Do you think my son knows that he is in the right place?  It’s unclear from the photo, eh?isaac enterprise

End result: they couldn’t have succeeded without a little help/coaching from us, but the point is that they are that much closer to becoming independent travelers.  Important to point out: they think about how to navigate the airport now.  Instead of acting like a sheep, following us around, they are looking up at signs.  It has developed their sense of awareness that there are signs that we follow.  It’s not like Mommy and Daddy magically know everything.  (We do.) We read signs. 

Try letting your kids lead you through the airport — if you’re not in too much of a rush. Everyone will benefit and the kids take a giant step toward becoming the independent travelers that you are dreaming hoping, and praying for.

See more of Elizabeth’s posts on TravelingMom.com here.
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