9 Airport Tips for Smooth Travels with Families - Family Traveller (USA)

Avoid tantrums, tears and boredom at the start of your family vacation with these genius airport tips.

1/9 Leave early!  

It sounds obvious, but there’s nothing worse than stewing in a traffic jam watching your departure time creep closer.

Be extra generous with the time you allow – spending extra time in the departures lounge is less painful than sprinting through the terminal as your final call booms over the intercom.

2/9 Research before you set off

You’ll find decent family amenities – play zones, restaurants and changing areas – in most airports, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find.

Go online and find out exactly where these spots are in your terminal, so you can head straight there without getting lost in duty free. 

3/9 Don't forget the essentials and the spares

Avoid emergency dashes to the shops. Make a list of everything you need in your hand luggage and pack well before you set off.

Spare clothes will rescue you from spills and accidents, ziplock bags are great for shoving in any dirty items, and bring twice as many diapers as you think you’ll need.

4/9 Be prepared for security

Shepherding tots through security can be a major headache, so pre-plan to dodge any last-minute scrambles.

Buy a bunch of small clear plastic bags so you can pre-pack all your liquids at home instead of in the line.

Those lace-up boots may look fabulous, but it's best to stick to shoes that slip off easily or velcro, especially for little kids who will likely need help taking off and putting back on shoes. Don’t forget to empty your pockets to avoid any delays.

5/9 Be smart with your handheld luggage

It’s nearly impossible to travel light when you’re with the kids, but bear in mind the possibility that you may have to carry your own bag, a tired-out tot, plus their carry-on, too.

Backpacks are best, leaving you free to hold on to little hands, and plenty of pockets can help you stay organised.

6/9 Stock up on snacks 

Airports are pricey, and long delays mean rumbling tummies. Include a hefty snack bag, stuffed with non-messy, easy-to-eat bites. For the sake of your sanity, keep sugary sweets to a minimum!

Pack a couple of empty water bottles to fill up at the fountains after security to keep hydration high and spending low. 

7/9 Unplug your entertainment 

A tablet or laptop loaded with fun games and movies can certainly keep kids happy for hours, but don’t risk finding yourself with empty batteries and nothing to distract the kids.

A few books and games are essential to keep the low-battery panics at bay.

8/9 Consider a lounge pass

Airport lounges are no longer restricted only to business and first-class flyers; many major airports now have excellent lounges open to anyone who wants to escape the chaos.

Check to see the facilities available – a lounge with a playroom for little ones, games area for older kids and comfy calm spaces for mom and dad may well be worth splurging on. Plus the free food, drink and WiFi can be well worth the price.

9/9 Decorate your luggage

So you’ve navigated the departure lounge, survived the flight and made it to your destination. Hurrah! The baggage carousel is the last obstacle. Make sure you can spot your bags instantly by making them stand out – ribbons, bright luggage tags and stickers should do the trick.