Stranded with kids in airports-have fun!

When faced with a long scheduled layover or an unexpected flight delay ,autistic travelers ,more than any othercategory of travelers can become increasingly agitated and apprehensive ,requiring a plethora of activities to keep them busy and entertained.In order to avoid any stressful moments, it is important to conduct a short Internet research of the options available in and around each airport during the initial travel planning stage.

Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports

Have fun in an airport museum

The emergence of airport museums is on the rise, and presents a win -win situation for all involved. Museums can introduce their collections to a wider more diversified audience and even sell some of their licensed merchandise, airports supply their frustrated travelers with a unique way to kill an hour or two and bored globetrotters are presented with a great opportunity to engage in an activity they might have never thought of trying otherwise.

Outstanding domestic airport museums

San Francisco
International:the Riijk Museum in Schipol Amsterdam should not be missed.
Hands -on kid museums and other entertainment in domestic airports

Many kids museums have satellite locations in airports ,providing a sensory hands on experience for younger autistic globetrotters and some much required respite minutes to their caregivers.Wonderful places to check ,among others are :

San Francisco International Airport : Kids’ Spot (in partnership with the Exploratorium of San Francisco)Boston Logan International Airport : Kidport (in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Boston)Chicago O’Hare International Airport : Kids on the Fly (in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum) .

International airports

Singapore Changi-:eatures the world’s longest slide that provides a wonderful sensory outlet,a swimming pool, a movie theater and as many arcades as you could possibly play at
Hong Kong International Airport  : http: //   has its own an aviation discover center, i-sports complex and PlayStation Gateway Center by Sony.
Auckland, New Zealand :If Singapore is the Mecca for indoor entertainment, Auckland is the ultimate destination in outdoor and back to nature pleasures.- , just outside the airport, comes so well equipped with a butterfly house,aquarium,,insect house, crocodile exhibit and farm yard .

Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports

Enjoy an airport tour

Another great idea that combines fun and education is a ‘behind the scenes peek ‘ at how the airport is actually run. Many autistic globetrotters might find this informative tour fascinating, especially those dislike or even fear crowded airports, and experiencing the tour might give them a more positive perspective of future travel. .Some places in the U.S like Cleveland,Tampa

airports do require advance notice and an e mail confirmation process, while some European airports like  Frankfurt and Zurich conduct them daily and are easier to attend at the last minute.Observation decks

A once in a life time view of the airport grounds along with takeoff and landing runways, can be enjoyed ,by the aviation obsessed autistic globetrotters who do get to visit the few observation decks worldwide that remain open .despite the heightened security measures post 9/11.
Lax, California :  – boasts the newly renovated and reopened observation deck inside restaurant .
Bankok,Thailand :  prides itself on being the second-biggest air terminal building in the world.
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina:  has a beautiful park located near the air traffic control tower ,where one can enjoy a ‘mini picnic’ while watching the take off and landing of the planes.

Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports

Children’s Play Areas

Many airports have area playgrounds, mostly inside to let that extra energy. It would be a wonderful idea to put in some swings to further calm special needs little ones.
Baltimore  BWI
Buffalo Niagara,

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International
Cleveland Hopkins,
Dallas/Fort Worth
Denver International 
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Las Vegas McCarran
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
Nashville International Airport
Portland International Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Salt Lake City

Noteworthy (domestic) airport kids play areas

Philadelphia International Airport – has a Please Touch Aviation Station-and International Airport .
Seattle/Tacoma International Airport – large aviation-themed facility
Pittsburgh International Airport – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood play area

Noteworthy (international) Airports with children’s’ play areas.

Glasgow Airport  has Fingabox interactive screens
Halifax Stanfield International Airport
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
London Gatwick Airport South
London Heathrow Airport
Sydney Airport – There’s a kid’s cinema too.
Toronto Pearson International Airport
Vancouver International Airport-has various sensory based play areas

Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports
Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport

Go see the city

Since many cities are relatively close to their airport, a short sampler tour might be a pleasant way to get introduced to a future vacation spot.
Singapore airport leading the way by offering free Colonial, Cultural, or Lifestyle city tours –
During that L.A stopover you can visit Hollywood /
Toronto-  city tour /  Airport-Transit-City-tour ort-tour

Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports

Go Geo caching

Geo caching is the twenty first century GPS based treasure hunt with a twist. Basically individuals or groups hide caches all over the world, advertise the hidden location on the Internet and wait for GPS enthusiastic players to find the hidden item. The person/s who discover the item or items are rewarded with a variety of rewards ,get to publish their ‘discovery’ on the web and are supposed to leave a treasure of their choice for the next Geo enthusiast. Although we have never gone geo-caching ourselves, some of my readers who have autistic globetrotters swear their kids had fun looking for those caches, and found the activity highly entertaining.

Try the local cuisine

Being stuck in an airport might become a golden opportunity to sample new foods your Autistic Globetrotter might not have dreamed otherwise of trying. Here are some of our ultimate favorites.

Miami ‘s Kafe Kalik that is famous for its conch fritters and Bahamian foods and La Carreta , serving their famous Cubano sandwich, with roast pork, Swiss cheese and pickles.
Albuquerque International Sunport:Garduno’s Chile Packing Company and Cantina has mouthwatering green chiles, machaca enchiladas and honey-drenched sopapillas.
Boston’s Logan :Airport has three Legal options -Legal’s Test Kitchen for people on the go , Legal C Bar full menu plus beer bar and the traditional restaurant. Personal recommendations and all time favorites are the clam chowder and lobster sandwich.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport- Brookwood Farms BBQ that many claim is the best they’ve ever had.
San Francisco features Boudin’s Bakery known for its sourdough bread since 1849.

However, if food does become a point of contention and a reason for a meltdown, head on over to the nearest Macdonald’s .
Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports


Adult autistic globetrotters might be tempted to visit a casino, but this is not recommended since it might become a nasty addiction to extinguish later. If they insist on going in ,have them play the one cent or five cents slot machines for a while.


This might be that golden opportunity to brush up on the basics of personal hygiene and appearance by giving your autistic globetrotter, a much needed hair cut or a mani-pedi combo, or get them to relax before the next flight with a body massage.

Get a room for the day

Saving the best for last, my ultimate favorite is getting a room for the day. This way everyone in the travel party can get what they want and need like showers, beds, TV , swimming pools and business centers with WiFi..For many autistic globetrotters a quiet place away from the airport bustle is a great way to regroup and relax. Many properties are either part of the airport complex, or adjacent but connected with walkways and tunnels, like the Hilton in Chicago O’Hare or Sheraton in Frankfurt. Search the links below for properties but contact the hotel directly and ask for day rates
Fun ideas to try when you are stranded with kids in airports

Ever been stranded with your kids in an airport and found a way to occupy them-share with us!


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