How to survive with children at the Airport

A Parents Ultimate Guide

Traveling with children can be a daunting task, especially when it involves navigating the busy, often stressful environment of an airport. From long security lines to unexpected delays, airports present a unique set of challenges for families. However, with some planning and a few clever strategies, you can turn the airport experience into a manageable, even enjoyable part of your journey. Here’s how to survive – and thrive – with children at the airport.

1. Preparation is Key

Pack Smart

  • Essentials: Pack a carry-on bag with all the essentials your children might need during the flight. This includes snacks, a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, and any medication.
  • Entertainment: Bring a variety of activities to keep your kids entertained. Think coloring books, small toys, tablets loaded with games and movies, and books.
  • Comfort Items: Don’t forget their favorite comfort items, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, to help ease any anxiety.

Documentation and Tickets

  • Organize Documents: Ensure you have all necessary documents, including passports, boarding passes, and any required travel authorizations, in an easily accessible place.
  • Check-In Early: Whenever possible, check in online before arriving at the airport to save time and reduce stress.

Discuss the Plan

  • Prepare Your Kids: Talk to your children about what to expect at the airport. Explain the security process, waiting times, and the importance of staying close to you.

2. Navigating Security

Dress Appropriately

  • Easy-to-Remove Shoes: Choose shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. This will speed up the process at security checkpoints.
  • Minimal Metal: Avoid clothing and accessories with metal that might set off alarms and cause delays.
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Use Family-Friendly Lanes

  • TSA PreCheck and Global Entry: If you travel frequently, consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. These programs expedite the security process and are often more accommodating for families.
  • Family Lanes: Many airports have designated family lanes that are designed to be more accommodating for those traveling with young children.

Be Organized

  • Separate Liquids and Electronics: Have your liquids and electronics ready to be scanned separately. This will make the process smoother and quicker.
  • Keep Kids Close: Hold hands or use a stroller to keep your children close and secure while going through security.

3. Managing Waiting Time

Find a Play Area

  • Play Zones: Many airports have play areas specifically designed for children. These can be a lifesaver for letting your kids burn off some energy before the flight.
  • Walk Around: Explore the airport terminals. Walking can help to reduce boredom and anxiety for both you and your children.

Healthy Snacks

  • Pack Snacks: Bring a variety of healthy snacks to keep your children satisfied. Nuts, fruit, and granola bars are great options that are easy to pack.
  • Stay Hydrated: Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water. Bring empty water bottles that you can fill up once you’re through security.


  • Screen Time: This is the time to relax screen time rules. Load up your tablet with your child’s favorite shows and games.
  • Interactive Games: Simple games like “I Spy” or “Simon Says” can keep kids entertained while waiting at the gate.

4. Boarding and In-Flight


  • Take Advantage: Many airlines offer pre-boarding for families with young children. Use this time to get settled and stow away your carry-on items.
  • Get Comfortable: Once on the plane, get your children comfortable with their seating area. Set up any entertainment or snacks you have prepared.
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Flight Essentials

  • Comfort: Bring pillows, blankets, and noise-canceling headphones to make the flight as comfortable as possible.
  • In-Flight Activities: Use the same strategies for in-flight entertainment as you did in the airport. Rotate activities to keep things fresh.

5. Handling Delays and Layovers

Stay Calm and Flexible

  • Be Prepared: Delays and layovers can be inevitable. Keep a positive attitude and explain the situation to your children calmly.
  • Explore: If you have a layover, explore the airport. Many airports have interesting features like aquariums, art installations, and even mini-museums.

Make It Fun

  • Games and Rewards: Turn waiting time into a game. Set small challenges or scavenger hunts around the terminal. Reward good behavior with small treats or stickers.
  • Comfort Breaks: Use layover time to find a quiet corner or lounge where your children can relax and recharge.

6. Additional Tips

Traveling Solo with Kids

  • Ask for Help: Don’t be afraid to ask airport staff for assistance. Many airports offer special services for solo parents.
  • Stay Organized: Keep all necessary items easily accessible. A backpack can be more convenient than a traditional diaper bag.

Keep it Fun and Relaxed

  • Positive Attitude: Your attitude can set the tone for the entire trip. Stay positive and treat the airport experience as part of the adventure.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate small milestones like getting through security or finding your gate. It helps to keep spirits high.