Easy Ways to Entertain a Toddler at an Airport

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My family traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Labor Day. We love to travel, and a three day weekend is the perfect excuse to fly somewhere new. I’ve written several times about activities I’ve done with Buddy on airplanes (read more here, here, and here). However, the things we do in the airport are completely different.

When we have extra time in an airport, I try not to pull out our airplane toys. If Buddy plays with them before the flight, they’re not as entertaining on the flight. Also, I don’t want him to sit for any longer than he has to since he has to sit for a long time on the flight. So here are some of the things we’ve done together in the airport.

1. Watch Planes

This is by far our favorite airport activity! Buddy is so happy to watch everything going on outside the airport. He loves the planes, trucks, and people. On one of our trips earlier this summer, one of the airport workers saw us watching and gave us a big wave! This activity keeps Buddy occupied for a long time. He was very frustrated in Jackson Hole this morning because in that airport, there are no jet ways and as a result, the planes are farther out and hard to see. But in most airports, it isn’t difficult to find a window with a great view.

2. Sing Songs

We do this most often when we’re waiting in lines at the airport. (Usually that’s waiting to get through security or on the plane.) “Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald” are great ones because you can add a lot of verses to make the song last a long time.

3. The Color Game

Buddy and I play this game every time we are waiting in line at the grocery store, and it works well in airports too. I say a color, and he has to guess what I’m looking at based on the color. Then he picks a color, and I have to find his item. (Buddy still likes to point as his object when he says the color, so he needs to work a little on this part of the game.) On this trip, we played in a gift store. Fortunately, Buddy can be in a store and not want to buy everything. However, if your toddler doesn’t do well in gift shops, this can be played anywhere in the airport.

Buddy found my “something black.”

4. Exploring 

I try to give Buddy time to stretch his legs before getting on the plane. Usually, that means we just walk around to see what we can find. Today, we found a small dog that let us pet him. Then we found a couch made with cow hide. (I thought it was kind of gross, but Buddy liked feeling the hair.) The interesting things at an airport always vary, but toddlers are curious about everything, so it’s not too hard to find something fun for them.

5. Scavenger Hunt

I have wanted to print out a scavenger hunt for all three of our summer flights, and I have forgotten every time. (I love this coloring one on Mama.Papa.Bubba’s blog!) Hopefully I will remember before our next trip. In the meantime, I just made up things for him to find based on things around us. Buddy loves animals, so when we were in the gift shop, we did some animal iSpy. Sometimes our scavenger hunts are more like, “find a square on the floor and stomp on it.” I change the game depending on where we are.

Buddy found a bear!

6. Playing Pretend

Buddy enjoys pretending to be different animals. I’ve blogged before about our animal movement game (read here). It works well in the airport too. Some example movements would be to hop like a bunny or fly like a bird. Today, he saw a movie with buffalo, and he decided to give himself buffalo horns!

If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s “horns”.

It takes a little effort and creativity to keep your toddler entertained without toys or electronics. But the effort it takes is worth it to have a happy toddler as you get on the plane. A happy toddler means a happy trip. If you have any other airport ideas, please share in the comments. And best wishes for happy travels, from my family to yours.

Having fun in Grand Teton National Park!




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