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Traveling with your family can be hard, especially if you have a long layover. But, if you are creative, you can turn these wasted hours into an added bonus to your trip. Here are some creative ways to make long layovers fun for your family!
When your layover is 2-4 hours long
For me, layovers that are between 2 and 4 hours long are the hardest ones because they are long enough that you have to kill a big chunk of time, but not long enough to really leave the airport. But, there are some things you can do at the airport to make these fun.
- Find the nicest restaurant you can afford in the airport and have a nice, leisurely meal. Have a drink (or two) and let your kids have dessert. Take your time and savor it. This can easily eat up 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
- If you have little kids, look for a playground inside the airport where they can burn off some energy.
- Do some window shopping in the airport shops.
- If the airport has a tram of some sort, go for a ride. Your kids will have fun with this!
- Find an uncrowded corner and let your kids jump, run, and wiggle to get out that excess energy.
- Do some people watching. Take turns making up stories about the people you see and where they are going.
- Find a quite area and take a nap.
- Read a book to your kids. If you didn’t bring one with you, pick one up in the airport.
- If you know you will have a long layover, pack some coloring books, paper, and/or art supplies. Then let your kids draw and color during your layover.
- Pack some travel games that you can play as a family during your layover.
- Lead your kids on a scavenger hunt.
- Use the departure screens and take turns planning a fantasy trip.
When your layover is 4-6 hours long
If you have a layover that is in the 4-6 hour range, you have a few more options on how to spend it. With a layover this long, you could potentially leave the airport and do some exploring, especially if it is on the longer side.
But, time can easily get away from you in this situation, so you have to be careful. Plus, you need to be sure to leave yourself at least an hour to get back through security and to your gate before boarding. And remember that typically flights will begin boarding half an hour before your departure time.
So, before your trip, I suggest you research what there is to do in close proximity to the airport. Find something that your family will enjoy doing that is close by and can be done in the time available.
Some things you can do to make long layovers fun if you leave the airport are:
- Go eat at a nearby restaurant.
- Find a tourist attraction to explore.
- Go shopping at a nearby mall or market.
- Head to a park or playground to let your kids play and run around.
- Take a spin on public transportation.
- Find some fun photo ops to grab some memorable pictures of your family.
If, on the other hand, you decide that you would rather stay at the airport (or if there is nothing close by to do), then you can:
- Use some of the ideas above in the 2-4 hour section.
- If the airport you are in has multiple terminals, find something fun to check out in another terminal and head there.
- Go on an airport pub crawl. If you prefer, you could also go on a snack or dessert crawl.
When your layover is 6-14 hours long
When you have a layover that is more than 6 hours long, you have even more options to make your long layover fun for your family.
- Either rent a car or use ride share or public transportation to go explore the city.
- Visit a museum, zoo, or aquarium.
- Soak up some rays at the beach.
- Shop for souvenirs.
- Eat at a unique or trendy restaurant.
- Hang out at a brewery or bar.
- Go see the sights.
- Stroll a popular street or area and do some people watching.
- Catch a movie or sporting event.
When you have an overnight layover
While no one really wants an overnight layover, sometimes they are unavoidable. What you are able to do on an overnight layover will depend on what time you land and what time you have to be back at the airport the next morning.
Here are some ways to make long layovers more fun if you have to spend the night, assuming you have time for them:
- Rent a hotel room near the airport and get a good night’s sleep.
- Find a great restaurant and have a nice dinner before calling it a night.
- Try to get tickets to a local sporting event.
- Head to a nearby movie theater and watch a movie.
- Go see a few sights.
- Head to a local theme park for a few hours.
Long layovers can be hard, but there are ways to make the most of them. I hope these ideas for how to make long layovers fun inspire you to think outside the box the next time you find yourself killing time in an airport with your family!
For more things to do when flying with your family, see my post on the best screen free activities for flying with kids, the best airplane snacks for kids, the best airplane snacks for toddlers, mistakes to avoid when flying with toddlers, and the best airplane activities for kids.
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