Stuck @ the Airport with Kids!
Updated: Jan 14
"Its not a Vacation, It's an ADVENTURE!!!"
Ever planned that perfect get away with the family only to have it start off less then perfect.
In July 2018, my family and I embarked on a journey that we would never forget. My wife and I, and four boys, 21, 12, 11 and 6 arrived at Raleigh Durham airport at noon for a 2 pm fight to Atlanta and then onto Miami to embark on an 8 day cruise.
Everyone had one carry on and a backpack full of their favorite snacks, electronic devices, books and more. We went through TSA and boarded our plane with no problem. However, we waited on the plane for an hour and a half because of bad weather in Atlanta. Deboarded the plane and was told to wait until the weather cleared.
Six hours after our scheduled take off time, we were finally on our way to Atlanta. However, when we arrived, of course we missed our connecting flight to Miami. The airline rescheduled us for a 7:00 am flight and gave us a discounted room in Atlanta, (this is after I called the hotel in Miami to see if I could move my reservation from Miami to Atlanta, of course not, $500 lost for prepaid room since the cancellation was less then 24 hours). After an exhausting commute to the hotel and a 45 minute wait to check in, we plopped onto our bed just long enough for the first bed bug bite.
1:00 am. - we get back on the shuttle to the Airport, back through TSA, to the terminal to attempt to get a few hours sleep in the busiest Airport in the world.
My children, exhausted, hungry and less just say a little cranky found their second wind on the airport train as they began dancing and I told them "this was no longer a vacation, but an adventure!!!!" We joked that this would be the vacation that they would remember for a lifetime, one they would tell their grandchildren about. The night of the storm, the bed bugs, sleeping in the airport. My youngest was excited that in less then 24 hours we had rode in a car, taxi, bus, train, plane and (hopefully) soon would be on a boat.
3:00 am - My wife, and two of my sons are able to actually sleep on a bench tucked away from the floor cleaning machines roaming the airport. My other two sons are watching movies on their phones as I wonder through the airport looking for coffee and speaking with the customer service agent from the airline as to why they would send us to a hotel whose numerous online reviews stated bedbugs and security problems. The called ended with receiving six $200 vouchers for future flights.
7:00 - we board our flight to Miami and proceed to the cruise ship terminal, where our Adventure finally turns back into a vacation.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM OUR ADVENTURE - WHAT TO BRING & DO ON EVERY FLIGHT WITH KIDS.
1. Backpack for every child, with the following
a. Snacks & nutritional foods as well - after long delays, they are going to need more then sugary snacks
b. Blanket - a small one will do, but some thing to wrap around or put over your face when trying to sleep in an airport
2. Multi-plug - outlets and USB ports are at a premium when flights are delayed and airports get crowded. bring along a Multi - plug so one outlet is able to power up the whole family. Cranky preteens with a dead phone or tablet is not where you want to be at 2:00 am
3. Deck of cards - Yep, a good old fashion game of Blackjack, Poker, Go Fish, Slap Jack can still entertain between flights.
4. Travel Insurance - never thought I would say that, but after losing $500 for two hotel rooms, I am not making that mistake again.
5. Noise Cancelling Headphones - Expensive yes, but if you are going to try to sleep, its worth it.
6. Coloring Book, Crayons, and books to read - Draw me a picture of what our cruise ship is going to look like or the things we are going to do, can be a great distraction
7. Medications - make sure to pack in your carry on luggage.