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  • Last Updated: 04th September 2014

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Family Holiday Inspiration - Airport Stopovers

If you’re thinking about a long haul family holiday, the idea of 8 hours or more on a plane with the kids may be putting you off. Long distance flights with bored kids can be a nightmare for everyone – but it doesn’t need to be! By making an airport stopover during your journey, you can get off the plane to stretch your legs and allow the kids some space – and you could even get the chance to explore a new destination en route. Take a look at some of the best places for families to make an airport stopover, and grab the opportunity to visit somewhere new en route to your holiday destination!

Dubai

Best if you’re travelling to: Asia and Australasian destinations
Things to do: Head into Dubai city! UK citizens don’t usually need a visa to enter Dubai, and the airport is only three miles to the city centre. Once there, you can hit the beaches on the Arabian Gulf, head to the Wild Wadi Water park or even go skiing at the Mall of the Emirates!
Airport facilities: Dubai International Airport is a stopover haven for families; palm trees line the indoor areas and there’s plenty of space for the kids to play. There’s also a children’s play area where they can expend some energy – and an airport hotel with rooms available by the hour if you really need a quick sleep!
Keep in mind: Dubai is a predominantly Muslim country and you should respect local laws and customs, whether inside or outside the airport. Ensure that women are not wearing provocative clothing, and remember that public displays of affection between adults are frowned upon here. It’s also considered bad manners to walk in front of someone in prayer.

Singapore

Best if you’re travelling to: Australia, Asia and the South Pacific
Things to do: Grab a disembarkation / embarkation card near to security, fill it in and head out to explore the city; transport to and from the airport is copious, but remember to leave enough time to get back for your onwards flight! If your flight arrives during the Singapore evening, you could take the kids to the Night – Morning Zoo Safari – where you get to see the animals all waking up. Alternatively, a river cruise is a great way to explore without tiring out little legs!
Airport facilities: If you arrive at Singapore Changi Airport for a stopover, you may find you don’t even want to leave! The airport is a luxurious space, with hair and beauty salons, a number of duty-free shopping boutiques and bars – great for adults to relax! However, kids will love the nature trails (including a cactus garden), the rainforest lounge and the swimming pool – and there’s a napping area if they get tired out!
Keep in mind: The airport also offers a number of computer gaming areas, with x-box consoles and games that will keep kids and dads entertained! If you do decide to head into Singapore, the MRT train and transit takes around 30 minutes to take you into the city centre.

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New York

Best if you’re travelling to: the west coast of America, the return leg of American journeys
Things to do: UK Passport holders shouldn’t need a visa to leave the airport – although all visitors to the States do need to have filled out an ESTA form before you board a plane to the USA. If you’ve never visited New York before, take the kids to see the sights – the Staten Island Ferry is a great free way to see the Statue of Liberty up close for free, and the Empire State building is iconic in the NYC cityscape. The kids will love visiting New York’s most famous toyshop, FAO Schwarz, too!
Airport facilities: Most UK travellers will fly into New York JFK airport – here you can find luggage storage, shops, restaurants and other amenities. However, with luggage storage handy and New York just a short taxi ride away, why wouldn’t you head out to explore the city?!
Keep in mind: New York has two further airports – LaGuardia and Newark – so check which airport you’re flying into and out of. JFK is the more common airport for international travel – but if you’re flying from an American destination, you may be flying into a different airport.

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Los Angeles

Best if you’re travelling to: Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific
Things to do: UK Passport holders shouldn’t need a visa to leave the airport – although all visitors to the States do need to have filled out an ESTA form before you board a plane to the USA. The home of Hollywood, a stopover in LA needs to include a trip to see the infamous sign, or head out on a tour of the Sony Pictures Studio to see where real TV shows are made! If you’re in LA in summer, head to South Bay’s Manhattan Beach – a perfect way to keep the kids happy whilst you soak up the Venice Beach laid back lifestyle.
Airport facilities: Los Angeles International Airport – or LAX – is a great place to have a stopover. There are a number of airport lounges for various airlines, wireless internet is available and there are some great places to eat. If you have time to explore, check out the public art displays within the airport, or take the kids to the Flight Path Learning Centre which the whole family will love. There’s also a 9/11 Exhibit currently on show.
Keep in mind: Traffic in and around LA can be notoriously bad, especially around rush hour. If you do decide to head out into California, ensure you leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport. Also, the airport does not offer a left luggage service – so arrange to leave your luggage with your airline on arrival.

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European Stopovers

Best if you’re travelling to: Anywhere! Many European airlines include a stop at their home-hub airport, so why not make the most of the time you’re there? KLM flights often stop at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, Air France will land at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lufthansa flights often stop at Frankfurt Airport. All three are great places to explore for an afternoon with children!
Things to do:British citizens should be able to leave the airports in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt without visas – so head out and explore! In Amsterdam, the canals systems will be loved by the kids, whilst there’s also a diamond factory to see. Paris has great art museums – from the Louvre to the Dali Exhibition, as well as the Eiffel Tower which is bound to make an impression! Frankfurt is a great place to try some German frankfurters – and maybe even some German beer!
Airport facilities: Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt airports all contain all of the facilities necessary for travellers, from shops and restaurants to places to charge phones! However, unless you have a short stop, the best way to spend your time is to head out into the city and take a look round.
Keep in mind: You will have to pass back through security as you re-enter the airport – so keep passports and boarding cards close to hand, and remember that hand luggage restrictions will still apply. Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt all use the Euro – so ensure you have some small Euro notes if you want to spend money outside of the airport!