Does the idea of travelling through airports with kids fill you with dread?! Read on for some ideas to ease the stress.
There is something about air travel that brings me out in a bit of a sweat, what with all the added stresses that don’t seem to affect other ways of traveling: the getting to the airport, the strict timings that cannot be pushed, the deep fear of missing a flight that keeps me awake and then wakes me up early, the crazy busy airports (and not to mention my underlying fear of flying!!)
All of this is of course intensified when travelling with kids too.
Well, there’s not much I can do about my fear of flying, but I have discovered some great ways of reducing the stress.
Staying on, or very close to the airport, especially if you have a very early flight is definitely a big stress buster and has the added bonus of being a fab way to kick off your holiday a night early!
On our recent trip to Spain our flight was at 7am from Gatwick, which is about an hours drive away from us. I knew that if we didn’t stay nearby I would be a bit of a nervous mess the night before and that no-one would enjoy the super early start, so we decided to stay at the Sofitel London Gatwick, which has the added benefit of being connected to the terminal via a walkway so we didn’t even need to factor in shuttle buses or taxis into our morning.
A full review will be coming soon, but it’s safe to say that it definitely zapped some of the stress that we would have had to deal with otherwise, and gave us all a couple of hours extra sleep!
If you’re looking for an alternative hotel at Gatwick, then be sure to check out this review of the Holiday Inn Express by Lisa from Travel Loving Family.
Unless we’re within a reasonably priced taxi ride of the airport (which is only one airport in our case!) we would always opt to drive ourselves and park at the airport over attempting the train. With the cost of train travel, coupled with the task of herding kids and luggage across train stations and on and off of trains, we have always preferred to use an airport carpark instead. There are so many different options these days and over the years we have probably used them all; long stay and short stay car parks with shuttle buses, meet and greet parking, and valet parking just to name a few. There are many places to book online, and I’ve always booked via Holiday Extras. We’ve definitely found this a great way to reduce a bit of family travel stress!
Airport Play Areas
Lots of airports have fab play areas, perfect to counter the stress of getting through check in and security, and happy kids make happy parents!
The play area at Heathrow Terminal 5 was the perfect place for Miss T to let off some steam before our fairly long haul flight to New York earlier this year.
And Mummy Travels has put together this brilliant post on which UK airports have a play area, it’s definitely worth referring to before you head off on a trip.
Now, this one is a bit of a luxury, but is definitely a nice way to escape the often busy airports with kids. I think many people may feel that airport lounges are reserved for business class flyers and are not family friendly, but after being in a few different lounges with kids myself, even with my toddler in the BA Business Class Lounge, I can confirm that is not the case.
You can now go online and book lounges, whatever class you are flying. Holiday Extras has booking access to lounges all over the world, and we recently stopped at the Sala VIP lounge at Malaga airport.
Our flight took place on the last Sunday of the summer holidays, at a destination that is super popular with holiday makers, so you can imagine how busy the airport was! The Sala lounge was a little haven, with loads space, big stylish and very comfy sofas, a kids cinema room, and the all important food and drinks counter (stocked with juices and sweets to keep the kids happy too).
We definitely felt welcome with kids, and they relished the opportunity to enjoy a rare fizzy drink and watch some TV, whist we also had a lovely opportunity to toast our holiday on a big cosy sofa!
It’s not just me who feels that lounges can be family friendly too, Karen from Mini Travellers lists it as an essential for long haul travel with kids (and her daughter sums up the airport lounge experience perfectly in the little video!)
And Natalie from Plutonium Sox has also written about why she feels that services offered by Holiday Extras, including airport lounges, are great ways of reducing stress when travelling with kids at an airport.
So if you find airports and air travel with kids stress inducing, then I hope these few ideas on ways that you might be able to ease the stress helpful. And please do leave a comment below if you have any tips of your own which may help me on my next flight with kids!
Disclaimer: we were provided with access to the Sala VIP lounge at Malaga airport by Holiday Extras in return for an honest review. As always, all views are my own.
I wish I’d seen this before our recent trip to Venice from Gatwick South. The kids play area was closed for maintenance, and after picking up a few bits at the shops we were a little bit at a loss of how to spend the time in such a crowded space without spending more money. Only then did Mr P remember we had access to lounges via his bank account…only it was all a little too late for us. By the time we figured out where we could go and if they had space it was time to go to the gate. Next time! #MondayEscapes
The airport hotel is such a good idea, I quite often toil with it for early flights. We never seem to have time to do anything at the airport other than run for the plane, must get more organised. #Mondayescapes
Good advice! We’ve realised the hassle of public transport, bags and kids with an early flight isn’t worth it, so now use meet and greet services at the airport.
We haven’t yet tried a hotel the night before but sounds like a good idea so off to Google costs for our early start on our Easter break.
I had written off Airport lounges as for business people so it’s great to hear they have lots for families too. A glass of fizz whilst the kids watch a movie sounds ideal! #MondayEscapes
Wow! Your airport visit looks better than some of our holidays! It’s been a while since we’ve travelled by air…partly down to airport logistics so this is an inspiring read! We’re heading to Spain next Sumner do we’ll certainly consider some of these tips. Thank you #MondayEscapes
You had me at glass of fizz ….
I definitely agree with staying at the airport the night before, makes it so much more pleasant! #mondayescapes
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn at Luton the other week, also booked through Holiday Extras. I love how it makes the holiday start earlier, and we needed that chilled start before to best prepare us for the chaos of Luton Airport.
Ohh that lounge looks fab. We tend to use that airport in the summer, so we might have to check out that lounge next year! Jemma x #MondayEscapes