Saving Tips Travel

3 Essentials To Keep Airports Cheap And Fun With Kids

Disclaimer: I was provided free products from ECOlunchbox. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more information.

The odds are pretty high, if you are reading this article, that you enjoy traveling, and likely with kids. We certainly do! And as you know from reading us, we live a fairly frugal life so we can afford to take our little family of 5 across the globe as often as possible.

Traveling is expensive in itself, and there are many ways to spend less during the journey so you can spend more once you reach your destination. A lot of it will have to do with keeping the little ones happy and busy!

Related article: 5 Hacks to Save Money on Flight Tickets

The Airport Experience

There is something about airports that gets most of us spending. We are excited to be on vacation. We know we are entering a spending-zone since we are living out of a carry-on. Let’s be honest – we are waiting for our plane to take off and those shops are clean and well lit-up and…. “oh, I totally need this fluffy neck pillow!!!” Waiting makes hungry and the free airline magazine is not feeding you. They say it’s tax free, “I can’t pass on the 6.5% off, it’s now or never!” And…. baby John rolling on the floor and yelling that he has to have this rainbow plush!

I could go on and on… spending in an airport is easy and attractive, but also unnecessary and could be money better spent once you get to Paris, Reykjavik, L.A., Hong Kong, or wherever that plane is taking you!

Smart Packing To Save On Airport Expenses

Traveling with kids is a wonderful things. I won’t lie to you, chasing a toddler between gates is not the bliss you imagined. But the memories you are about to make are priceless!

Related article: 10 Sanity-Saving Tips for Traveling with Kids

There are three things we never travel without:

Food and Snacks

This is your #1 way to cut on airport expenses while keeping everyone happy. I’m not a big snack-packer at home, but I do not travel with food to please everyone! Airport food is not only horrendously expensive, it is often unhealthy and will leave you thirsty, hungry, and crashing on the plane… We always pack food and snacks for everyone in our ECOlunchboxes!

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I love my Tri Bento. I can pack 3 different snacks without them touching or getting soggy. For the adventure traveler, you can even re-heat your food in the metal containers in a medium-heat oven or over a campstove!

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For the kids, I use ECOlunchbox’s Seal Cups. I love the colored silicone tops and the stainless steel containers. Our kids love to each have their own snack and feel very special when they don’t have to share. You’ll agree that those are the cutest thing! And when they’re done, they all fit in one another and take very little space.

A quick look at why we choose ECOlunchbox for traveling:

There is no plastic in any of their lunch boxes, hence no risk of feeding our family harmful substances found in plastic, such as BPA or BPS. By being planet-responsible, each year, ECOlunchbox is offsetting the CO2 equivalent of 13 million driven miles! I feel great not creating more trash and reducing our family’s plastic footprint. And the shape and sizes of the lunch boxes are super convenient for the little hands and easily slipped in our carry-ons!

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So while you are saving money and eating healthier at the airport, you are also supporting a brand who cares about our planet and its people! And you now have re-fillable boxes for those on-the-road snacks!

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Pro tips: pack snacks you don’t typically give your kids at home, or some that you know are their absolute favorite. They’ll be excited to discover a favorite and won’t be asking for the fast food right across the hall! Make sure you don’t pack liquids if you plan on eating after security!

Head over HERE to get your own ECOlunchboxes!


Those of you who have read our sanity-saving tips for traveling with children know that we happily let the kids use electronics at the airport and when flying.

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We never go on a trip without a couple of charged iPads and Kids Edition Fire Tablets and since we don’t always fly to large airports with free wifi, we always make sure we load movies and shows for them. Both Netflix and Prime Video let us download the kids’ favorite programs and they can watch them while we travel.

Related link: Amazon Video – Start Free Trial Now

We have gotten so much done during that time at the airport – from re-packing carry-ons, planning a piece of the road trip, checking out attractions at our destination. Don’t make the mistake of carrying on with your no-screen policy at the airport… there is very little apart from shiny stores for the kids to look at and you are doing your wallet and your sanity a huge favor by keeping them occupied with screens! Travel wouldn’t be fun without exceptions 🙂

Fun Work

There are fun ideas for busy activities for kids of all ages. We always start our airport experience by finding a playground. But when we can’t find one, there are many other ways you can make waiting-at-the-airport fun for the kids! And those ideas will evolve with your growing children.

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Some of our favorites include:

Toddlers – gel stickers, plain paper and crayons, hard-page books, hand puppets

Pre-Schoolers – gel stickers, repositionable sticker books, coloring books, picture books, water magic coloring books

Elementary School Students – logic books, level-appropriate reading books, color-by-the-numbers, scratch & sketch books

Keeping the kids busy and happy at the airport will save you from chasing them throughout stores and you won’t have to give in to the “mommy, but this baby plush is sooo cute!!”

Keeping The Airport Cheap And Fun

There you have it. The 3 things we never travel without when our trips involve kids and airports:

  1. Pack favorite foods and snacks in re-usable lunchboxes
  2. Allow kids to use electronics and load them with shows they can watch off-line
  3. Have 2 or 3 fun activities for each kids to complete

Enjoy the adventure!!

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Related articles you might enjoy: 
Keep Your Super Hero’s Teeth Clean This Halloween
5 Hacks to Save Money on Flight Tickets
10 Sanity-Saving Tips For Traveling With Children 

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  1. These are all great tips and I used many of these when my kids were younger. They are now 16 & 18 and they pretty much keep themselves entertained with their phones and Switch game system. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing. I love the bentos and they are perfect for every day use.

  3. Ugh…the airport with kids! These are perfect ideas. We always like to arrive at our gate leisurely so as not to add stress to the travel day, so these ideas are great to pass some time. Snacking makes them all happy, even hubby. And it is really a good time for them all to have a little sugary treat!

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