I actually don’t mind hanging at the airport, waiting for a flight. I see it as free time for myself – I read, flip through magazines and eat nibs while I surf the internet. But if you’re travelling with young children, NONE of those things can happen. They want to run around, be entertained, fed, taken to the washroom (repeat, repeat).
True, you can bring along a few snacks and activities to keep your young traveller(s) occupied during the wait but then what’s left to entertain them with on the actual flight – that small space where everyone expects them to sit quietly?
Here’s an idea inspired by a play-date I went to today with my 4-year-old. It’s a fun, easy way to fill that antsy wait time at the gate. It may also be the perfect antidote for nervous (or new) little flyers by giving them an opportunity to explore and understand the environment or simply distract them from their worries.
The play-date, organized by my friend, was a scavenger hunt that took place at a large international airport terminal. Brilliant!
All you really need is a printer and some stickers! My friend found the airport scavenger hunt list that we used on a blogger site (Pack Your Passport, Baby!). It has lots of items that you’d find in most airports so you don’t need to know the airport you want to use it in beforehand.
Here’s how OUR play-date ‘played out’. Switch things up however you see fit to make your next visit to the airport a little less stressful and a lot more fun.
We met at one of the restaurants in the terminal and had lunch to kick things off – all good play dates MUST include food. After lunch the real adventure began. Our host handed each child their scavenger hunt page and a sheet of cool stickers to help tick off each item found.
And then they were off on their hunt…
During their search the children investigated the kiosks that dispense boarding passes and luggage tags, waved to a pilot, spoke with a customs officer, rode the escalator and the sky train, checked out a friendly business-traveller’s passport, spotted a few luggage carts and wheel chairs and watched lots of airplanes take off and land. Loads of educational opportunities presented themselves at each turn. My favourite part was that the long, wide walk-ways and overall ‘busyness’ of the airport meant not having to request “indoor voices!” and “walking feet please” incessantly. Amen!
Our hunt included a bonus round that was specific to our airport. Once all had successfully filled in their sheet they were given the extra challenge of finding a life-size dinosaur (there’s an Allosaurus near the international arrivals area in our airport). This was the finish line of our scavenger hunt and where each child was then awarded a prize – their own little travel kit. Also known as the ‘in-flight entertainment kit‘ ;)
Let me know if you plan to give this a try next time you’re travelling with little ones.
Have fun with it!