Tips on Surviving long layovers with kids



Long layovers, the stuff of nightmares when your travelling with young children. While children are very adaptable there are still certain scenarios that just are not great and unlike adults they don't have the ability to "power" through especially when tired and bored. Now layovers don't just happen in Airports but also train stations, bus stations, ferry ports - we have experiences them all (10hr delay for a ferry, 8hrs wait for an overnight train etc) and while as parents we always look to reduce waiting times, sometimes we just have to accept long connections and be prepared for that.

Having done long-haul travel from a very young age as we lived in Cape Town as my father was South African and my mother Welsh, it meant travelling to the UK every two years or so and then often on to Europe as well. Having spent hours in airports and sleeping overnight on couches in a few has equipped me well for travelling with my own kids and I thought I would share some tips on surviving a long a long layover, also if your looking for stress-free ways to travel with kids check out this blog post.

Kids who travel

1. Do as much research as possible. The more information you have on the airport or train station etc you are going to be stuck as for a few hours the better. Some have fantastic facilities such as small soft plays or cinemas while others are very sparse with little to do, knowing this will stand you in good stead with planning how to keep your children entertained.

2. The Perfect Pack - once you know what facilities will be on hand you can make sure to pack the right things in your kids day bags, such as colouring books, crayons, small magnetic board games such as snakes and ladders, audio books and small toys. Water and snacks is also key and if you plan to take a tablet or ipad then make sure there is not only a charger in your bag but also your child's. Packing a small blanket and pillow is also a good idea should they want to take a nap, especially if your layover goes into the early hours. If your not a fan of Ipads or Tablets then check out my vlog about 5 screen-free ways to entertain kids while travelling.

3. Download movies - we actually pack our children's tablets away at home and they only come out when we travel because we find that they are the most useful then. Depending on how long your layover is a movie or two will certainly help to break that time up so make sure there you have downloaded something age appropriate that your child hasn't seen before and do make sure to pack headphones - this is a must!

4.  Explore your surroundings and take a walk - my children like most are naturally curious so why not take a walk around the terminal or station, really discovering what makes it tick, take your time and you can easily take an hour or so wandering around and this also helps to burn some energy off while keeping boredom at bay.

on aeroplane

5. Food food and more food - the last thing you want to happen is your kids having a hangry induced meltdown. Making sure you are all well hydrated and full is key to keeping everyone happy so why not make a real treat of it? Now we are pretty money savvy travellers but if your faced with a 6hr+ layover than treating the family to a meal out can really help to break that up and best of all no rush, you can take your time and enjoy some family time together over pizza, pasta or whatever takes your fancy.

6. Leave the Airport - this may not be realistic is all cases but by doing research prior you can find out if there are any family friendly places to go close-by and this could be a real saving grace especially when facing a long layover this can dramatically break up the waiting time. Just make sure you give yourself more than enough time to get to and from the airport without missing your connecting flight or train.

7. Book into a hotel - if your layover is going to be over 11hrs I would suggest booking into an Airport hotel for your own sanity as it will give you the down time you need and possibly some sleep as well and many hotels have some kind of facilities for kids. We did this exact thing when travelling to Finland via Heathrow, staying at the Renaissance Hotel.

We have a few trips we are planning over the next year, there is also a big birthday on the horizon so we have been looking at cheap flights to New York for next year and while the flight might be direct we have to via Heathrow or another major airport in the UK and will of course have some kind of layover to deal with but doing research beforehand is key.

long layover



  1. This is first time I am visiting your website and I find this post very very useful thanks for giving such a great information.

  2. Love the photo on the trunki. Some good tips here that I will pass on to my sister. It’s all in the planning!

  3. I love your tips here. Having food and snacks is very important. Some entertainment helps too!

  4. Mellissa Williams25 October 2018 at 14:15

    These are some great tips - travelling and having long layovers with children can be so stressful! I'm so glad those days of mine are over.

  5. Thankfully this has never been an issue for us. Entertainment and food is definitely the way forward!

  6. We've got 14 hours in Helsinki coming up in between landing and getting our overnight train. We've decided to book into a hotel as we land early hours and will be desperate for some sleep. But great tips all round.

  7. Booking into a hotel airport is a great idea. I would feel a lot more relaxed knowing we were in a space of our own

  8. We have never done any long layovers with the children yet, these are some great tips for if we ever do x

  9. These are really helpful tips. I think being prepared in this situation is a must and I would only consider a long layover with fully charged tablets and a few movies to watch. I totally agree about food, my kids are total snack monsters

  10. Wonderful & very informative article. I think these tips and advice are much helpful. Great Sharing.


Lovely comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...