We have sort of a bad habit of cutting it close in the airport. During our trip to Maine last summer, we arrived to O'Hare so late, that we missed the 45-minute deadline to check our bags. But since that episode, we've tried to reform, and we now make a genuine effort to get to the airport a little earlier. Of course, this is a double-edged sword, because now we have more time to "entertain" TJ in the airport. Luckily, there are a number of things for kids to see and do in most airports. Here are a few favorites:
- Moving Walkway. TJ LOVES riding these back and forth for endless hours, yelling "Hi, Daddy!" every time we pass TD. It is scary how fast he can run with the help of this automated walkway. I like it because it tires him out and gives us a 1 in 10 chance he'll actually sleep on the plane.
- Gift Shops. Every airport has a token toy store, and multiple gift shops. TJ likes looking at everything from stuffed animals to magazines to magnets. Some airports have great specialty stores for kids. For example, Mindworks is in Philadelphia International Airport and the National Geographic store is in LaGuardia.
- Pay Telephones. In the age of wireless cellphones, no wonder TJ is so amazed to see real old-fashioned phones with big buttons and fun cords to play with.
- People-Watching. People are surprisingly friendly in airports. TJ gets a number of high fives (especially from men) when he runs up to them babbling about something or other, and he especially likes to watch passengers deboarding planes.
- Soft Pretzels. Auntie Ann's or any other variety is a big hit. They keep TJ munching and happy. If you can't find a pretzel outlet, try any other kid-friendly snack.
- Find An Outlet. If you are truly stuck in the airport for a long time (once TD and I were stranded in Las Vegas McCarran Airport for 11 hours - thankfully we had left TJ at home that trip!) - look for an outlet to plug in your DVD player. Often you can spot one that is used to plug in vacuums at the base of a column or pillar.
Additionally, before you go on your next flight, check out Cheapflights.com's Kids Airport Diversion Guide (warning- you have to sign up for their free weekly newsletter to receive this)-- a great guide to kid-friendly museums, play areas, and other entertainment, listed by airport. I can't believe I just discovered that O'Hare has a Kids On The Fly interactive exhibit sponsored by the Chicago Children's Museum. I've never seen it before, but thanks to Cheapflights, I'll be heading to Terminal 2 next time we're in the airport with TJ!