7 Tips to Navigating Airports with Children


The thought of taking children through a busy airport causes panic and stress for many. But airports can also be an exciting and great place for children and families! Here are seven tips to have an enjoyable and memorable airport experience the next time you fly.

1) Prepare ahead of time. You can check-in to your flight online and print your boarding passes before you even leave home. On many airlines you can also change your seat selection. Take care of these things before you get to the airport. This will limit the time you have to wait in line.

2) Pack your bags the smart way. Separate any liquids and place them in an approved size bag and then add to your carry-on. When you go through security you’ll only need to grab these bags instead of rummaging through your entire carry-on to find the items.

3) Carry-on Bags. Speaking of carry-ons, encourage your children to be in charge of their own bags. Their toys and activities can be added to their own bags. This will help foster responsibility and limit the amount of things that they may wish to take. Mom and/or dad can be in charge of extra items that are heavier or more fragile (like electronics).

4) Leave Extra Time on Arrival and Layovers. Be sure you plan to give yourself extra time to get to the airport and check in your bags. You also want to avoid layovers with very short connections. Depending on the size of the airport, you generally need at least an hour between flights. With delays, children who need a potty stop, and a whole host of other issues that can arise, give yourself the time and avoid the added stress.

5) Snacks. If there’s one thing that experienced family travelers echo time and time again, it’s the importance of having snacks on hand. Buying food in an airport is incredibly expensive and often there’s a limited selection. Also most airlines don’t provide free food on-board. Pack several snacks and/or a small picnic style meal to keep everyone happy. You can buy drinks once you’re through security. This will save time and help reduce whining!

6) Long layovers. If you’re at the airport early or you’ve got a long layover between flights keep your kids busy. Put together an airport scavenger hunt or I-Spy game. Play card games, or visit the children’s area. Many airports have play areas for kids. Do a little research ahead of time to see what the airport has to offer – you might be surprised at what you find!

7) Get Help. If you’re traveling alone with kids, or you have children with special needs airport staff are usually very willing to help. They can arrange a cart transport to take you from one gate to the next or other special services you may need. Contact your airline and the airport directly to see what services they can offer.

If you have any tips to add I would love to hear them.

Happy traveling! 


  1. sarah sar says

    These are some great tips! We always pack snacks and games for the kids. Leaving early enough is still a challenge for us…we've never missed a flight but we've had some close calls!

  2. chrisappleford10 says

    Great tips Kim, we had our first long haul flight with Jack a couple of days ago and it was a real eye opener. A couple of tips from us – when you first book call ahead and make sure you get a seat with a bassinet for toddlers and babies. This gave Jack his own space and parents get a bit more leg room. Also, we hired an iPad entertainment unit which was so useful. We don't like Jack being on our iPad for long periods of time, but when it comes to long haul flights it amused him for hours.

  3. Great tips! I have always been so scared to go to the airport because my kids would not like all the waiting and such! This will be helpful for when we brave it!

  4. Fabulous tips!!! We will be flying with our 2yr old this Dec and will keep your tips in mind 🙂

  5. pricelessyona says

    Great tips! I'm glad that I haven't had to travel on an airplane with my nephew only because he is so active and his attention span is like nilch when it comes to wide open spaces that he can run around at. I do think the only thing to keep him occupied is an iPad, and if I play drawing games with him.
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  6. Awesome tips, now if most childfree adults could be as prepared! They are usually the ones that don't think ahead like parents do! I'd also add antibacterial wipes for airport and airplane areas – kids touch everything so giving those things a good wipe down ahead of time would probably be a good thing!

  7. You, Baby and I says

    I travel often with my toddler so these are great tips for me!

  8. I got to travel with my friend's family last February and she brought her 1-year old son. She says it's kind of not-so-easy to travel with a toddler so she brought her son's nanny with her.

  9. hannah staveley says

    Some good tips but mine are not ready for fights yet.

  10. Kinda sounds like my way of travelling with my husband and our tiny dog, haha! My husband stresses out easily and I'm the one who packs everyone up, ready to go. So he's worried about when we have kids and how we'll travel.

  11. I haven't been to the airport with kiddos – I can't imagine how stressful that would be! Love these tips!

  12. The New Classy says

    Leaving with plenty of time to spare is definitely important with kids. In any situation. You just never know what will happen, lol.

  13. When I travel with my children, I allow extra time because we really need it.

  14. Travelling with kids can be very stressful. These are all great tips. I think being prepared with snacks and things to do is a great idea.

  15. These are great tips! I've never flown before with my kids, been many years in fact, but I hope to visit some friends this coming year and I plan on bringing at least my youngest with me. Thanks for the advice!
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  16. These are great tips! I'm going to print these tips to keep handy for our next trip.

  17. stephanickeety says

    It's been awhile since we've traveled on an airline with the kids. I had a flight attendant attack me many years ago when my oldest was just 2 yrs old. It was a nightmare, so I always get a bit anxious when we're traveling on a plane.

  18. touristmeetstravel says

    This is so useful, I'll be flying soon and it has been a little while; though I am very excited!

  19. Fi Ni Neachtain says

    Great tips! We travelled with our son for the first time this summer and the snacks really helped us through an his favourite comforters too.

  20. These are great tips for travelling, especially the snacks idea and keeping kids busy with games. We used to play word games when they were little 🙂 Now it's great that many airlines have tablets in the waiting area so you don't even need to bring your own!

  21. I have not tried this yet, the thought of flying with 5 kids overwhelms me and then there is the expense. Great tips!
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  22. I have never taken my kids on a plane but one day i'm sure I will need this and i'm sure I will be the one with a melt down on the plane haha

  23. Elizabeth O. says

    Snacks are a must! Saves me from headache…

  24. Great tips. It's been awhile that we travel far with the airplane. We wait until our toddler little bit grown up because we knew how stress can be flight with children 😀
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  25. Melissa Smith says

    I think this is one of the reasons as to why I'm terrified to travel with my kids. But with these tips, we might actually go somewhere sometime soon. Thanks for sharing!

  26. brandyellen says

    Great tips! I rarely fly but when I do, I would so totally have to use your tips to get by. Appreciate these ideas.

  27. Rebecca Swenor says

    These are great tips for navigating airports with the kids. I have never traveled by plane with small kids and my boys are grown now. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Great tips! I didn't realize that airline staff is willing to help out when you're traveling alone with kiddos. Thanks for sharing!

  29. bonniegowen says

    Great tips! We don't travel much but will keep these in mind.

  30. Mrs. Mashed Up says

    Ugh–I think I will be getting on a plane soon with Baby Mash. I am NOT looking forward to this. Thanks for the tips. I'm going to try to avoid it if I can–but if I can't I'll need this.

  31. Great tips. We go out to eat and play games together when we're experiencing long layovers.
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