Traveling with Toddlers: Layover or Not?

When I took my 20-month-old daughter on a 10-hour flight to Hawaii the last thing I wanted was to have her fall asleep right as our connecting flight was about to land. The thought of having to switch planes and tote a sleeping toddler around the airport while juggling my carry-ons was all the incentive I needed to shell out extra money to book a direct flight.

But that’s just me.

If your toddler is not a napper, then a layover provides the chance to have your son or daughter run off some steam. The break also allows you to eat at one of the airport’s restaurants, which is especially critical now that many airlines offer little more than onboard snacks during flights of less than five hours.

If you are still deciding whether or not to schedule a layover during your next trip, consider the following factors:

Number of children flying: If you have more than four children, the idea of a layover may not be very inviting. After all, what sane parent would want to go through the trouble of getting loaded, seated, and settled, just to do it all over again on a connecting flight? Conversely, if you are traveling with your spouse and a single toddler, you might appreciate the chance to stretch your legs and let your child explore the airport. By letting your tot burn off as much energy as possible, he might sleep during the next leg of the trip.

Length of layover: Personally, I find layovers more manageable if they do not exceed 2 hours. Any more than that and you will be dealing with children who went from being restless on the plane to being restless on the ground. After all, there is only so much you can do in an airport. On the other hand, you don’t want your layover to be too short. If you find yourself disembarking one plane and having to make a mad dash to catch your connecting flight, then your layover is too short. Another consideration: luggage. If your layover is too short (under an hour) then you run the risk of your luggage not making it on your next flight.

Financial considerations: If the bottom line is price, then you will probably be better off purchasing a ticket that includes a layover or two. Shop around, sometimes you can find a direct flight for just a few dollars more than one that includes a layover. You decide if the few extra dollars will be money well spent.

Related Articles:

Air Travel and the Toddler

Toddler-Friendly Airports

How to Keep Your Toddler Occupied on a Road Trip

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.