NETMUMS is the UK’s biggest national parenting website and we spoke to Editor in Chief Cathy Ranson for some advice on keeping the little ones entertained at the airport and how to avoid them wanting to play on expensive arcades!
- Make sure you do your homework before you get to the airport and check out their dedicated website. Airports are delighted to showcase how family-friendly they are. Some have dedicated kid’s areas and even indoor playgrounds, but at the very least you‘ll find out where the best place is to view the planes taking off and landing from the terminal. Located near to the dedicated family friendly airport areas are always the biggest and best baby changing and feeding rooms too.
- Stay as long as possible in the kid’s play area in the terminal as the departure gates can sometimes be very small. In older buildings there might not even be enough seats for everyone to sit down – let alone space for a curious toddler to let off some steam. In order to keep your children entertained without disrupting the passengers around you, our best advice is to stay in the terminal for as long as possible! With a very important caveat – make sure you find out how long it is to get to your gate from the kid’s play area. This will be well sign posted in the terminal, in some airports it can take up to 25 minutes to get to the final gate and the last thing you want is to be rushing.
- We have a secret that will cost you £3-£5 and will be worth every penny for a stress-free flight! Go to your local Pound Shop and choose 3-5 toys, depending on the length of your flight, that you know your child will love to play with – whether it’s a dinky china tea service, a fun paper post office set, or some mini cars. Wrap them up in wrapping paper or pages torn from old magazines like a pass the parcel, and let your child open one during the flight when you see them getting bored or restless. Having something new to play with is fun and the unwrapping is all part of the excitement. Also, because the toys are cheap, you won’t be worried if some items get lost on the plane or on holiday, and the promise of more to come helps in tricky moments.
- Let your child have their own hand luggage for toys that they can help you to pack or they can pack themselves if they are older. Make sure the bag is a suitable size bearing in mind baggage size and weight and what else you have to carry with you. We love the Trunki range of cases for kids as these can double up to give children a seat on long walks to claim luggage and through passport control, but they may be too large on some airlines for hand luggage. Always take precious toys as hand baggage and not in suitcases. Make sure you have a duplicate at home of THE most precious item just in case!