Surviving a (Scheduled) 11-Hour Layover in Seoul With a Toddler


Believe it or not, a dreaded day-long layover in Seoul turned out to be a gift. We had back to back 10-hour flights on our two legs to San Francisco from Bangkok. It just happened to work out that they were both red-eye flights, and those 11 hours fell during our one-year-old’s daytime.

People routinely ask me whether I’d recommend breaking up long flights with a hotel night midway. And usually my answer would be—with kids?—an emphatic “no.” It’s not worth collecting your bags, getting transportation to and from the airport, setting up for sleep in a new place, and going through security (and possibly passport control) all over again. Just get it over with. Rip off the band-aid, so to speak.

But this was an exception. Seoul has an in-airport hotel that will allow you to rent a room for a short block of time (I believe we paid for six hours) this meant showers and naps for everyone, without our having to retrieve our bags or deal with customs. But even had we forgone that luxury in favor of a stroller nap and time at the play zone, there was plenty to distract us for the day: My husband had one of those in-airport massages; we spent time at the Korean Welcome Center (which even featured musical performances); and we tried unfamiliar (to us) foods at the food court. And of course we took turns chasing after a toddler and sitting in the various play zones.

But the best part of all? Our toddler, who had run all over the terminal, slept soundly through both of those 10-hour flights.

If you have a long, scheduled layover, call the airport’s service desk or look around online to see what they offer to entertain waylaid travelers. I’m afraid not all airports are quite as well-stocked with amenities as is Seoul’s, but you might be pleasantly surprised.

Read more of Ashley’s writing at Hither & Thither.
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[photo my own]

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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