Whether you’re stuck at Terminal 5, in the belly of a ferry in Dover, or just sitting on the M25 for six hours, delays and dead time are an inevitable part of travel. Many adults find waiting around difficult enough, but for excited children faced with delays, the change of plans, the disappointment, and the physical discomfort of being marooned in a strange place, can be altogether too much to bear. We want to give you our top tips on how to kill time at the airport with a toddler.

How to kill time at the airport with a toddler

Here are a few ideas to help you manage these potentially difficult times:

  • Don’t go far! A change of scene and a break from your routines is often the best and most revitalising part of a holiday. Consider family breaks that don’t put everyone under the stress of long journeys, until the children are older and more able to cope.

kill time at the airport with a toddler

  • Game on! Time to bring out your repertoire of games and show just how much fun you are. I Spy, Guess Who and word association games can all be played without any apparatus.
  • Let them eat cake. Forget all your healthy rules and let them eat their way through the wait. It’s not going to do them any harm and it may just save your sanity.

How to kill time at the airport with a toddler

  • Explore. Have a hunt around the airport and get them to draw maps or play hide and seek.
  • Practice your poker face. Letting your children know that you are stressed or angry about delays makes them feel worried and stressed, too. Show them this is normal and fine and they’ll be a lot easier to hang out with while you wait.


Praise your child when they’re behaving well during stressful delays. Be specific about what they’ve done that made you happy. For example: “I’m really proud of how patient you’re being” or “I liked how polite you were to the cabin crew.” Praise which acknowledges specific behaviour, rather than generic superlatives, helps them understand the right way to behave in difficult situations.