It’s a rite of passage to stress out over taking small children on an airplane and facing the reality of being locked down with them for hours, just hoping they won’t have a meltdown and brand you as a bad parent for life. But there’s less focus on what to do when you get to an airport and, due to missed connections, weather, or just bad luck, realize you have hours to fill on a long layover.
The good news is there’s plenty you can do to turn a long layover at the airport into a somewhat enjoyable experience. Here’s your roadmap for airport fun.
Turn It Into an Adventure
Don’t discount the fun and wonder that’s right inside an airport that your kids have never seen. Talk up the idea of exploring your family’s new digs and turn it into a grand adventure. Whip up a scavenger hunt-style list where a parent and kids split up. When you find the items on a list, like fine chocolates or a leopard print suitcase, you get to check it off your list and the winner gets a small prize from an airport store.
Your team can also load up on a plane train to take a cruise through the airport and pretend you’re on a safari looking for wild animals. Given the state of most crowded airports, this probably won’t feel like much of a stretch.
Find the Fun Stuff
The added benefit of turning your airport layover into an adventure is finding fun stuff along the way. There’s a play area in Baltimore Washington International Airport, a Children’s Museum of Chicago play area at Chicago O’Hare, and a movie theater right in the airport at Changi Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, to name a few. You may find your kids don’t want to leave the fun at all to catch the next flight out.
Indulge in a Treat
You can still enforce healthy eating at the airport by grabbing outrageously overpriced yogurts, granolas, fruits and smoothies for your kids. But if your family has an occasional treat policy, make the airport the time to indulge. There’s no shortage of treats from ice cream sundaes to candy. A treat can also be a special toy from an airport store or new game downloaded to their devices to make a never-ending layover more bearable.
Get In Some Exercise
Languishing around the airport all day can feel akin to being trapped, especially if you need to hover close to the gate to monitor constantly changing timetables. Pick a corner of a waiting area or see if you’re near the dead end of a concourse hallway and get in some exercise. Work on stretches, jumping and lunges with the kids and encourage them to lead the workout. In a pinch, a headstand contest helps change the mood of your kids.
Make it Cozy
There’s a 100 percent chance your long layover will spill over into naptime and bedtime with no end in sight. This moment can feel like utter defeat, but it is possible to just roll with the punches. Make it cozy by laying down a blanket or sweatshirts to create a soft area for the kids to stretch out with a book or their gaming device. Throw an extra pair of socks in your suitcase the kids can ruin at the airport when they take off their shoes to stretch out and relax. When they get up and sprint across the gate to explore the candy shop for the 10th time, you won’t worry about the state of their sockwear when they’re just throwaways or for the bleach pile anyway.
With kids back in school and the grueling temperatures of summer finally behind us, life is starting to get back into the routine of fall. That doesn’t mean, however, that family fun has to stop. Big international trips may not be practical for all family travelers this time of year, but places like South County in Rhode Island offer so many fun things to do for families, a quick trip to this East Coast haven is practically a must.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Take Part in England’s Exmoor Dark Skies Festival Dusk Wildlife Safaris and Children’s Art Competition
Planning a trip to the United Kingdom soon? Time your travel for the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival in Somerset, England, from Oct. 13 to 29. The setting is Exmoor National Park, located within a gorgeous mix of farmland, wild forests, stunning valleys and moorlands in South West England.
Part of a family who just loves a good scare or ghost story? This fall, wherever your travels might take you, chances are you’ll be near an Omni hotel or resort with a history of haunted sightings and other scary happenings. So, why not learn a bit about where you’re staying to make the experience all the more eerie …
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Overshadowed by nearby Portland and overlooked by tourists bound for the popular coastal towns of Camden and Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick is not on the radar of most family travelers in Maine. But couples looking for a cozy getaway will find fine dining, antiques, art and quiet streets for strolling, many lined by distinguished homes and well-kept gardens.