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Airports & Kids: 10 Top Tips

Ahhh the joy of travel!  Arriving at the airport, brimming with excitement, checking the departure board to see how much time you have left to potter around in Duty Free.  Debating whether to buy a perfume or a moisturiser and loading up on magazines and booze for your next destination.  Yes that scene might no longer be the case if you’re travelling with young kids.   You’re more likely to be yelling at your toddler who’s insisting on running off at every opportunity whilst debating with your partner as to who’s going to go and change the baby’s dirty nappy.  Here are some tips on how to make your airport experience a bit more bearable.

  1. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time.  Young kids walk slowly and it’s likely you’ll get a meltdown at some point en route from A to B.  I would advise 2 hours – you don’t want to arrive too far in advance so that you’re spending ages impatiently counting down to your flight but with enough time that you don’t have to stress.  This is particularly important if you need to factor in feeds.

    Exhibit A walks extremely slowly through airports and is prone to a tantrum

    Exhibit A walks extremely slowly through airports and is prone to a tantrum

  2. Think about your hand luggage carefully.  My preference, whilst unstylish, is to use a backpack which leaves me hands free and is comfortable for my back.  Also think carefully about your kids hand luggage.  Will they really be pulling their suitcase through the airport or will you end up carrying it? And don’t get me started on the Trunki…

    Kids backpacks are tres useful

    Kids backpacks are tres useful

  3. Consult a packing list so that you have all the necessities but you don’t overpack. You should also check the liquid regulations as it’s likely you will have to sample some of your stash.  The best thing you can do if you’re travelling through Heathrow is to pre order any formula/food etc from Boots post-security.  That way you can buy a whole supply that will be unopened for your travels.
  4. Bring your baby carrier.  As above, it’s so good to be hands free, especially if you are also chasing after other children.  You never know how long a walk you might have from the aircraft to receiving your buggy and it’s also great for jiggling baby about in on a plane to get them to sleep.

    I've always been a big fan of the Ergo baby carrier

    I’ve always been a big fan of the Ergo baby carrier

  5. Do your research and see if the airport has a kids play area.  For example, Heathrow T5 has a great one near Gate 7 and Hong Kong has a variety of play areas and TV lounges dotted around. Once you find the perfect area to plonk yourself, be it play area or even just by the gate, then relax and try to enjoy a few moments of calm to yourself.  Let the kids run/crawl around a contained space and tire themselves out.  If you’re lucky enough to have access to an airport lounge, they often have kids play areas and you can fill them with food too.

    TV lounge at HK Airport - Gate 16

    TV lounge at HK Airport – Gate 16

    Heathrow Stay & Play Kids Area

  6. Look helpless at every opportunity.  Staff are normally very helpful to ragged parents, from whisking them to the front of an immigration line to opening up a new check-in desk.
  7. Come armed with snacks (preferably healthy-ish ones).  Kids love eating AND it keeps them quiet. Win win.
  8. Do recheck the Departures board. Don’t just assume the gate on your boarding pass is the gate you will depart from. The last thing you need if you’re cajoling kids through the airport is a gate change and an extra 20 mins to your journey.  This also might sound stupid but make sure you’re looking at the correct flight number. I was once looking at the wrong flight to Hong Kong, thinking I had plenty of time but actually the gate was closing.
  9. Take everyone to the toilet before you get on the plane, whether that’s a nappy change for the baby or a last minute wee for your kids.  If you’re travelling alone have the baby attached to you in a carrier, it’s a useful art to learn how to wee with them attached to you
  10. Don’t be in a rush to board the plane.  Many airlines will give families priority so just head towards the front of the queue when you feel ready to get on board.  Once you’re in that plane, that’s it so enjoy the open space of the airport!
  • Emma


    Love the part who’s going to change the dirty nappy! This is my life!

  • Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)


    So nice! I would eventually travel a long haul flight with my son and its so scary! This will help> A LOT! #mbpw

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