Airports are not the ideal places for families to spend time together. However, when they’re waiting for flights or in between connecting flights, they’re often forced to find ways to pass the time as pleasantly as possible.
A big, busy airport doesn’t lend itself to the usual playground or playroom setting for children’s fun and games, but some creative efforts by parents may turn the time and places into enjoyable experiences for their children.
Where do you start?!
The first task is to try to find ongoing airport events and locations for family activities. Some airports have play areas set aside for children, including computer game rooms and TV theatres. Some have historical aircraft and other interesting exhibits that can help pass the time. For example, Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol has a branch of the Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum, where families can stroll through to see famous paintings, sculptures and other works of art.
Food, glorious food
If the airport layover is long enough to require the family to eat a meal together, several variations are possible. Everyone can grab a fast-food sandwich or pizza slices and gather at a table or on some empty benches. If they’re fortunate, there may be much more pleasant nearby outside areas provided for picnics.
Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has four picnic areas surrounded by gardens where families can sit together and enjoy their waiting time with choices of many varieties of food. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and other styles of food. All are available for take-out at various locations throughout the airport.
Make the most of tech!
With today’s ever-evolving electronic advancements, families can bring portable versions on flights and for use during airport layovers. Both adults and children can use them to make the waiting hours pass. A fully-equipped laptop computer can provide just about everything necessary for passing the time. It contains endless websites and capabilities that offer person-to-person communications, music, movies and interactive games. It also can play varieties of DVDs and CDs.
Additionally, because small DVD and CD players cost as little as $50, individual children can use their own players and other hand-held devices for whatever entertainment or educational purposes they choose. Of course, there are always those old-fashioned things called books, crayons and player cards.
Have a little snooze
Another challenge for families during long airport layovers, especially those with small children, is to find peaceful places for when the activities end and rest is necessary. If the airport waiting area is not busy … sometimes a rarity … they can find a row of seats for the children to nap. If that isn’t possible, they should look for quiet, clean floor spaces away from the noise and activities of the terminal.
They can use newspapers and/or flat cardboard as bases, wrap the children in coats and stand by while the little ones nap. Sleep masks or hats pulled down low can dim the harsh airport lights, and soft music from CD players’ earphones can induce sleep.
Prepare yourselves in advance!
In today’s world of busy, noisy airports, and with the inevitable delays and layovers, parents with children may be hard-pressed to come up with interesting activities for family members. However, with careful planning and preparation, along with some creative talent, it’s possible to make the airport stay a pleasant one.