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Flying home from Canada this September our family had a three hour layover in Salt Lake City. Prior to children, a layover meant sitting on the floor somewhere next to a power outlet, charging my phone and utilizing the free WiFi. (Side note: airports, if you don’t offer free WiFi, get with the program). In fact, here’s a picture of me a year ago on our way to Ireland (19 weeks pregnant) doing that exact thing.
Before I became a parent, I loathed layovers. In fact, I would try to schedule my connecting flights as close as possible. If I planned it right, by the time I speed-walked through the terminal my next flight was just about to board. I know a lot of people don’t like cutting it that close. But when I was traveling pre-kids, I just wanted to get to my destination as quickly as I physically could. If anything, a bathroom break and an Annie Anne’s pretzel was preferably all I would have time for before I was wheels up again and on the way to our next adventure.
The advantages of a layover with a baby or toddler
Nowadays, the layover is often my favorite part of a long journey. For one, I don’t have to run through the airport with a baby strapped to me to catch a connecting flight. The extra time in the terminal also gives my squirmy child an opportunity to get out of the baby carrier. It gives her time to crawl around and burn some energy, which usually means she’ll sleep on the next flight. I can also utilize the much cleaner and roomier family bathroom at the airport for diaper changes.
That beats changing diapers in the airplane lavatory any day! Seriously, do you know how gross it is to walk into a bathroom the size of a shower stall right after the sweaty man with the grumbling stomach, lay your child down right over the toilet and try to hold your breath while simultaneously keeping her from touching everything? Not my idea of a fun time.
So, if you are traveling with an infant or toddler, a layover is a welcome break from the cramped airplane seat and all the other cramped spaces you encounter on a plane.
Back to our layover last September. We laid a blanket down on the floor next to the windows so Avery could move around. She looked out the windows and happily played with her toys. At this point, Avery was already crawling. While I’d love to tell you she stayed on the nice clean blanket, that was not the case. Luckily, we never go anywhere without a healthy supply of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
Parking ourselves next to the windows kept us out of the way of any foot traffic. It also gave Avery plenty of space to explore. My husband enjoyed some Haribo Gummy bears (his absolute favorite candy in the world), and then Avery enjoyed the empty bag. The kid can have a million toys, but would rather play with an empty Haribo bag. She must have inherited her daddy’s love for gummy candies. P.S. – Haribo, if you need a tiny, toothless spokesperson, I have just the person for you!