Surviving Flight Delays With Kids

With all the flight cancellations in the past few weeks, more travelers are finding themselves stranded in the airport. There have been a couple of good articles recently on dealing with flight delays with kids.

On, Wendy Perrin wrote a great article on Ten Things To Do When You're Stranded at an Airport. Check out the comments for all sorts of helpful ideas from fellow travelers. **

Vagabondish had a nice article on Travel Games for the Road It's a good reminder that if you're creative, entertainment on the road doesn't have to come in the form of heavy electronic equipment or expensive toys with lots of small pieces. Playing a game together might even turn those idle moments into a special part of your trip.

ParentHacks, always a favorite of mine, has a nice hack on carrying a travel journal for each child with you wherever you go. Once filled the journal becomes a nice keepsake for the child to keep or send to grandma.

Need More Ideas? Here are a couple of my own:

  • Get a room at an airport hotel. Sometimes having a private space (or a place to sleep if you're jet lagged) can make a huge difference in everyone's mood.
  • Try to get your kids moving, find an empty gate area and let them run or jump a little
  • If you are stuck on the tarmac (instead of in the terminal) and the plane door has not been closed yet, ask whether you can let your children walk and play on the jetway.
  • Even though you're frusterated, try not to let your kids know it. They'll only pick up on your mood.
  • Resist the temptation to keep your kids (temporarily) quiet with juice or sugary treats, it will only make them harder to manage later.
  • Engage your kids in imaginative play. If they're old enough, try making up stories about why the flight is delayed (maybe squirrels in the cockpit?), where the plane should go instead, or make a list of things you would pack if you were staying at your destination for a year

Wendy Perrin was the first travel writer I knew by name, and I was inspired by her writing long ago when I still worked 70 hour weeks, had no kids and little vacation time. Her article on a difficult trip to Club Med back when I was thinking about getting pregnant for the first time struck a chord & I decided right then that we'd do the research ourselves instead of relying exclusively on resorts that might not actually be as family friendly or efficient as they appear. Her blog posts often feature helpful information about traveling with kids, and now would be a great time to check it out.

Related Links:
Flying With Kids

 Subscribe to our feed

Subscribe by email:


  1. Wendy Perrin on April 16, 2008 at 7:18 a.m.

    Hi Debbie,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. You've made my day. I'm amazed you still remember that Club Med trip. (How I wish I could forget it.)

    You're absolutely right that one of the best -- and certainly most educational -- ways to entertain kids on the road is with imaginative play and thinking games. My sons and I have made up all manner of guessing games during our long road and train trips. When they were your children's ages we played the "color guessing game" and the "number guessing game." Now my six-year-old and I play the "state guessing game" (that's where I try to guess the U.S. state he's thinking of) and my four-year-old and I play the "Thomas the Tank Engine guessing game" (where I try to guess the engine he's thinking of). Actually, perhaps I should write a post on my blog about this. To be continued . . . .

    Thanks again,

  2. Nancy SV on April 21, 2008 at 1:36 p.m.

    I can't even tell you how many hours we have passed by playing imaginative games!! We've traveled with our kids since they were itty-bitty - they first went to Ethiopia at age six weeks!!

    Now we are getting ready to take off for even more - this time to ride our bikes from Alaska to Argentina. My twins are now 10, so that makes it a bit easier!! You can read more about our journey at

  3. Susan on September 12, 2011 at 4:11 p.m.

    I found a great way to deal with the stranded problem- The Layover Table. It fits over the telescoping handle on a roller board bag and has cup/bottle holders and a flat surface for food or games.