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Travelling with the Whole Family – Kid-Friendly International Airports

Time for something a little different here at Plebs with Kids...
If you are one of our regular readers, you will know that we traditionally fill this page with reviews of kid-friendly venues in and around Johannesburg.

Thanks to Angie Picardo (a writer for TravelNerd - go check it out!), this post touches on something that parents often overlook.
When was the last time you went overseas, and you thought about just how kid-friendly your destination airport was?
Well this should give you a few ideas for that next overseas trip... :)

Travelling with the Whole Family – Kid-Friendly Airports

Travel can be tough on families, especially with children in tow. Long layovers and endless delays are frustrating enough, but entertaining the little ones presents a whole different challenge. Luckily, a number of airports have recognized this difficulty and begun to offer entertainment and amenities specifically for children.  
To help ease your travelling blues, here are some of the most kid-friendly airports around the globe.

Boston’s airport boasts two separate play areas for kids, called “Kidports.” 

The first, located in Terminal C, was designed by the children’s museum of Boston and includes a number of kid-sized replicas of airport features. 
There’s a baggage-claim slide, a climb-able airplane, and a number of educational, hands-on exhibits. Soft, spongy floors allow for safe playtime, and a separate play area for infants and toddlers keep them entertained as well. 
The second Kidport – near Gate 18 in Terminal A – is similarly designed, featuring a miniature air traffic control tower, a child-size replica of Terminal A, colorful slides, and climbing structures. 

Boston has also thoughtfully included several amenities for families travelling with babies, including rocking chairs placed throughout the airport, diaper changing stations, and private rooms for nursing mothers in Terminals A, C, and E. 

Chicago O’Hare is infamous for its crowds and delays. 

So to ease the stress on families, the airport has designed a number of kid-friendly amenities. 
While traditional play stations allow kids to relax and play with LEGOs, Chicago O’Hare’s main attraction for the kids include a number of educational, hands-on activities that reflect the strong presence of museums within the city. 
The Children’s Museum of Chicago designed an interactive exhibit called “Kids on the Fly” that features a helicopter’s cockpit, a cargo plane that needs refueling, and an air traffic control tower. 
These exhibits allow children to explore and discover, using their natural curiosity to learn more about the inner workings of an airport. 

In addition, a restored F3F-4 World War II fighter plane is on exhibition in Terminal 2, and a life-size Brachiosaurus skeleton looms over B concourse in Terminal 1. 

Paris has designed a lounge exclusively for kids, much like the first-class lounges elite business people enjoy.

This private area allows kids to play, chill out, or nap, and entertainment includes PlayStation 3s, flat-screen TVs, and board games. 
Complementary snacks are provided, but parents must wait outside while kiddos enjoy all of the amenities.

For parents with younger children, dozens of baby-changing stations are located around the airport, and loaner strollers are available for families needing to trek across a terminal.

Hong Kong’s airport has two extensive play spaces for kids, featuring the traditional slides and equipment as well as a six-seater helicopter and a large-scale model of an airplane.  

The airport has recently begun offering a four-hour city bus tour to travelers with lengthy layovers. 
The tour departs from Arrivals Hall B, where travelers board an air-conditioned bus and journey past a number of sites including Lantau Island, Man Mo Temple, the impressive Central skyline, and the Victoria Harbour.

In fact, a number of organizations have supplemented the attractions offered within the airport itself and instituted ways to get families with long layovers out and about. 
For example, the US Fish and Wildlife service has provided low-cost and easy excursions to National Wildlife Refuges for families stuck in airports in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, or San Diego. Interested travelers can simply log on to the US Fish and Wildlife Service website to research options.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance site that helps people tackle the challenges of parenting, from flying with kids to college tuition planning.
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About Plebs with Kids

Plebs with Kids visits mainly JHB-based venues, coffee shops, restaurants, play areas and other such establishments.

We rate their kid-friendliness (among other things :) for your convenience, and for the next time you need a place to go, while knowing that your little ones are well catered for.

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